In the late 1980’s, my mom had a beautiful pair of authentic Ray-Ban Wayfarers. They were definitely an upgrade from the half dozen pairs of fashion sunglasses that were stored in a re purposed plastic McDonald’s Happy Meal bucket. The Ray-Bans obviously didn’t live in the Happy Meal bucket. These were special. They were stored in their designated case while my mom wasn’t wearing them, and she used neon Croakies during outdoor activities and sports to keep them secure and increase the chic factor. My dad made a big deal out of them, and said they were sharp. The photos of my mother wearing them during our family camping trips and ski trips really solidified her “cool mom” status.
When I was 32ish, I decided that it was finally time to own a pair of classy, high quality sunglasses. I wanted those Wayfarers. I wanted the exact pair that belonged to my mom. I thought that it would be so retro and cool, and it was also the most eco-responsible thing to do. I knew that she kept them, so I asked if she could pass them down to me. My mom made a face and frowned. “Really?” she said without any ounce of enthusiasm. “They’re really big and I think they’re pretty scratched up.” (Then why did you keep them, mom?!)
Bummer. It was all true. I learned that they didn’t really fit my mom all that well in the first place, and they weren’t really her favorite pair of glasses. Maybe that’s why she had to rock the Croakies? I was disappointed, but I was still going to own a pair of Ray-Bans even if it meant I had to purchase them myself. This was going to be a big milestone for me. Up to that point, all I knew in the world of sunglasses was the fast fashion type that you could pick up at any local Target, cheap mall store, or gas station.
So I finally did it. I purchased my first and only pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers. They fit really well. I felt like my eyes were getting legit UV protection. I solemnly swore to take care of them because they were expensive according to my budget. I was excited too because of how classic and versatile they were, and I knew they would last me a long time.
Womp Womp. Our time together was brief. We enjoyed a year and a half at most. There were a few trips to Lake Tahoe, and The Napa Valley Wine Country. I believe I had them for a wedding or two that I attended. I definitely wore them to a Giants game and a 4th of July celebration. Before I lost them for good, Instagram captured the memories.
After I realized that they were gone for good, I never allowed myself to buy expensive sunglasses again. I don’t trust myself to give them enough care and attention, especially nowadays when I’m trying to invest more time into people and not things. But I’m in a tricky place right now. I own the metaphorical McDonald’s Happy Meal bucket full of fast fashion sunnies. I like having the style options, but they’re everywhere. They’re in my house and in my car, in purses, and in my classroom. I even have a slip-on pair that I got from the optometry department that go over my prescription glasses when I’m not wearing my contacts. They look pretty “cutting edge”.
Now it’s time for me to choose again. Do I purge every pair of cheap shades that I own and invest in one quality pair? This is a silly problem to have. Perhaps I should consult the Instagram poll feature.
I’m thankful that I have a pair of eyes that help me to see, enjoy, and learn about the world. Choice of eye wear for sun protection shouldn’t be this dramatic. It’s time for me to get over it.
My favorite pair of shades were an all black nondescript pair that I stole from my father before I moved to California. They wrapped around my face life they were custom-fit. They made me feel like a superhero, if shades were capes. They were a cheap-gas-station purchase. They fell out of my hands once, and they cracked right in half. I miss them SO much. I’ll never find a pair like those again.
Right? Shades are sometimes more than just an accessory. They become part of our identity, history and special memories. Who knew that frames and lenses could give people all the feels!