Here's something that probably means nothing to you but means everything in the world to me.
I am getting new glasses.
My world has recently been thrown upside down, but it turns out that things will be a-okay when it comes to my eyewear.
In Austin, TX there is a man (or is it a woman?) named Vick who has my heart because of this momentous change. I have never met Vick. If I do someday, I will weep openly in front of my savior. I will not, however, take off my eyeglasses because it is those very accessories that Vick is responsible for and I want him (or her) to see them in all their glory.
For the past two weeks I have had to confront the fact that I have a pathological problem concerning my glasses. I recently took a fall on my kitchen floor as the result of a very strange reaction to cold medicine and when I got to my feet I felt a goose egg rising on my bald head and the left stem of my glasses dangling by a thread near my ear. Sheer horror, I tell you.
When that stem on my SRO 145's snapped my heart broke. I'm not a man who covets things, but those eyeglasses were the absolute favorite part of my wardrobe. They were my uniform, something I felt comfortable in every day.
The SROs came into my life when acting was a bigger part of it. Back then as a member of the Actors Equity union I had done enough work in a year to qualify for some special medical benefits. One of those perks was a free pair of eyeglasses.
I still recall the day the SROs and I met. I visited the optician, had a brief eye exam, and then was shown a wall of glasses from which I could chose my free pair. I was in my early thirties at the time and there was a part of me that was still struggling to figure out the kind of guy I hoped to be. That inward struggle had manifested itself in periods of time when I was found only wearing a baseball cap backwards, never went anywhere in anything but shorts, and grew ridiculous sideburns that looked like flattened gerbils on my face. I was always reaching for straws, and for a long time nothing seemed to fit.
But then I saw the SROs. The SROs were so different from my "in between" style choices. They were bold, big, direct, and made a statement. It took a pretty sturdy face to hold a pair of SROs, but the minute I put them on I felt like I had found the thing I had been searching for my entire life. There was no fucking around with these things.
My wife took one look at me with my new free glasses and said, "You are never allowed to go eyewear shopping alone again." My own mother saw me and said, "Really, those things make you look like a little old Jewish man." I suffered these insults from those near and dear to me because I found that for the first time in my life, I had chosen something on my own that made me feel giddy when I thought about my own appearance. I started to believe that I hadn't found the glasses, but that the glasses had actually found me.
As I ventured into the world with my SROs, something about me changed. The backward baseball caps, the shorts, the bad hair...I had been trying so hard to be something that I wasn't quite even sure was even a thing. My SROs forced me to just be. They were comfortable and lush. They defied fashion so much that they actually started to define it. I suddenly found myself getting compliments from strangers. "Hey those are great glasses, and I love your bow tie, too." The bow ties seemed to be a natural fit that came as a follow up to my new confident eyewear, a perfect dynamic duo.
I loved my SROs so very much that it was hard to take them off at the end of the day to go to sleep. A few years after I had gotten my first pair, I tripped in a parking lot one day and smashed them to bits on the pavement below. I tried to go back to the optician where I had first purchased them, but the shop had closed. I thought I'd never survive, but then I searched and searched and found the exact pair of frames for sale online at a site called Optometrist Attic specializing in classic eyewear. This is where Vick came into my life and saved my ass.
When my glasses broke this time around, there was no question in my mind as to what I should do: go to Vick and get another pair. Rushing to the site to order new SROs I was alarmed to find the words SOLD under a picture of my frames. It was a dark hour in my life, and even as I write these words and think about debates over health care for all Americans, concern for international terrorism, and who is going to run for what in this or that election, I feel a little small.
Finally after searching far too long for other resources that might have been able to sell me another pair, I threw in the towel. Their were no SROs anywhere. It was time to march on.
I thought about a possible dramatic change. Maybe it was time to be trendy. Maybe I'd go have someone actually give me a straight razor shave every week and then shape my eyebrows. Maybe it was time to try to be fashionable.
But when the first box of home-try-on glasses arrived from a company that is great on marketing the idea of quality eyewear but less super on actually providing a frame the lives up to that promise, everything became clear. To go forward, I would have to turn back, and so back to Vick I went.
I took me a while to accept the fact that my uniform was going to have to change forever. I hemmed and hawed and avoided any moves towards actually discovering new frames. I was scared about how I'd feel about something that I didn't want, something that I had never planned for.
I swallowed hard and eventual ordered a air of Shuron Sidewinders in Mint condition because they had a similar feel to my SROs. I was still wary. How could something like this ever work? Was it sort of like going on a date with a woman with brown hair just after your brunette wife has died? My SROs had been the best thing ever to come into my life as a man of style. Forget the belts, forget the nicely polished shoes; they all owed their presence in my life to the SROs.
A couple of days ago my Shurons arrived. My family was home when they came through the mail slot. I ran to get the package, and then went into a private room, a place away from other eyes. I needed to be alone to have this first meeting. I was surprised at how much anxiety this was causing me. They were just a pair of glasses for Christ sake. It wasn't like I was receiving a new kidney and trying that out for size.
I slipped the Shurons on and it was as if I felt that same magic all over again from the time that the SROs and I had met. There was something different about them. The detailing was a little more whimsical, and somehow inconceivably they were a tad larger than the SROs. They were also comfortable. It was like I was wearing a Lincoln Continental on my face. I was in love.
I'm awaiting my new lenses now. And I'm also awaiting the three backup pair of frames I immediately ordered from Vick. Change is good, but I think this time I'm not going to leave things to chance. I'm thinking about that next time I break my glasses (it will happy as I become a bit more of a klutz in my advancing years), and I would prefer never to be caught with my pants down like that again.
So if you see me before then, don't believe that the backup pair of weirdly stylish glasses that I have owned for years is me having some sort of midlife crisis. Never fear. There will be no short pants and ball caps anytime ever again. I'll be back to being an old man real soon.