Wednesday, March 18, 2015

my lost sunglasses: a lament.

I almost never lose things.

I have never lost my keys, and I have never lost my cell phone. I have never lost my wallet, credit card, or driver’s license. In my twenty-plus years of checking out library books, I have never lost a library book –I didn’t even get a late fee until last year. (Which is embarrassing, because I work at a library. You’d think that would make it a whole lot easier to remember to get my books back on time.) I don’t even lose pens.

I just don’t lose things.

The few things I have lost over the years haunt me. I once lost a black-and-white striped sock of a pair my mom gave me, and I felt terrible. Needless to say, I rarely lose socks – I haven’t worn a plain old pair of white socks in nearly two decades. All of my socks have patterns and colors and pictures of tiny lobsters, which means I NOTICE when a sock goes missing. And the only missing sock that has never turned up is that striped sock. And it’s even worse because they were gift socks. I lost this sock over a decade ago, and I still feel bad about it.

When we went to New Orleans on a jazz band trip in January 2008, James bought me a fleur-de-lis bracelet. We hadn’t been dating for long, and this was the first nice gift he’d bought me. (He had given me a label maker for Christmas, but that’s a story for another time.) We went out to dinner at an Italian restaurant called Mona Lisa, and by the time we arrived back at our hotel, my bracelet was gone. It had fallen off sometime during the damp French Quarter evening, and though we retraced our steps, we failed to locate the missing bracelet. I went right back to the gift shop where James had gotten the bracelet and bought a replacement, but it wasn’t the same.

The last thing I lost was my sunglasses.

They’re just sunglasses. No big deal, right?


I have been wearing contacts for nearly twelve years, and I’ve spent most of those years in search for the perfect pair of sunglasses.

That’s a tall order for someone like me. The sunglasses couldn’t be too expensive, as they would rattle around in my car, be worn at the lake, and be taken on vacation – scratches happen. They also couldn’t be too cheap, because they’d need to endure that general sunglasses abuse.

So the hunt for the perfect pair of sunglasses began. When I still wore only glasses, I’d had a pair of ridiculous clip-ons. I knew I didn’t want anything like that.

This was 2003, so gigantic bug-eyed sunglasses were coming into their own. No one could make these sunglasses look good – expect for my friend Sarah. 
See how good she looks?
They were meant for her and her alone. Nevertheless, I gave the giant sunglasses the old college try, and I looked just as I expected: like an insect.

There was a brief period of time when I thought I’d found the perfect pair of sunglasses. My family had gone to Disneyland in March 2005, and Dad happened to sit down next to a pair of abandoned Ralph Lauren sunglasses. After a brief search for their owner (ie, asking nearby tourists if they’d lost a pair of sunglasses), Dad gave them to me. I loved them: not only were they an actual brand (versus the whatever-brands I was used to buying), but they were stylish: in that mid-2000s kind of way, but since it was 2005, they were spot-on.
I wore them until they snapped two years later.

After the demise of the Ralph Laurens, my search resumed. I went through varying shapes and sizes of sunglasses – all purchased for twelve dollars or less at the Targets and ShopKos and Lewis Drugs of southeastern South Dakota. 
Like these. FAIL.

It wasn’t until halfway through college that I finally made progress in the Great Sunglasses Project. I’d avoided aviator sunglasses all this time, never even trying a pair on. Why? I have no idea. But what’s important is that I did finally try on a pair and realized that aviators were what I’d been looking for all this time.
The very first aviators. They are failviators.
So I’m done, right? Because I found the perfect pair?


Not all aviator sunglasses are created equal. I had to find a pair that was not too wide for my face. A pair that fit behind my ears and would not fall off if I looked down. A pair that wasn't too tight behind the ears so that it pinched my brain. A pair that wasn’t mirrored –mirrored sunglasses drive me nuts. A pair without any dumb decorations on the lenses or on the arms: no leopard spots, no jewels, no glitter. A pair that I could wear all day and be content.

A pair that looked great.

And do you know how long it took me to find that pair?

Until 2011: a full eight years after I had begun my search.

Just off the top of my head, I can think of six pairs of aviators I bought before I landed on the perfect pair.
This pair is one of the six. They are also failviators.
More failviators.
At the very least, six mediocre pairs before I found THE pair. They came from JCPenney, and I knew it was meant to be. I don’t remember the brand, but these glorious glasses fit each and every one of my criteria – and not to be devoid of personality, they had purple earpieces.
This is a terrible picture, but here are my sunglasses in all their glory.
Those sunglasses and I had a great run. We traveled together: 
the Badlands.
New Orleans.
Las Vegas.
Chichen Itza.
We plowed through Midwestern winters when the sun shines off the snow and blinds you. We enjoyed Midwestern summers: 
the Brookings Summer Arts Festival.
Hot Dog Night in Luverne.
days on Lake Poinsett.

sibling summer fun.
motorcycle rides.
Nick burgers al fresco.
ice cream in small town Minnesota.
I thought my sunglasses and I were going to have a long and happy life together.

But then I lost them.

It was Saint Patrick's Day weekend 2015. I know what you’re thinking: “oh, stupid Calla had too much to drink and lost her sunglasses.”

I will tell you right now that was not the case. As I am now an old person, I do my very best to avoid drinking too much. In my old age, hangovers now last all day - and to avoid those day-long hangovers, I must pay close attention to how much I drink. I know exactly when to stop drinking, and on that ill-fated Saturday, I stopped drinking with plenty of room to spare. That evening, I had three drinks over an eight-hour time span. On a full stomach. I metabolized those drinks into oblivion.

So the problem wasn’t the drinks. The problem was the distractions.

It was a gorgeous Saturday, and I put on my trusty sunglasses and walked downtown with James and a friend to try and find our other friends in a bar. Did I mention it was a gorgeous day outside? Going into a dark and crowded bar is never high on my priority list: especially not on a 70˚March day. I dawdled and talked on the phone as we walked, and I tried to shoo people in ahead of me. But the inevitable moment came when I had to go inside said dark bar. It was packed and loud and dark (have I made that clear?), and the rest of the night involved us shouting at each other and trying frantically to find members of our group who had drunkenly wandered off – but not before informing us all that their phones were dead. In a word, it was a shitshow.

After a late night of damage control, I dug in my purse the next morning, looking for my sunglasses… and all I found was an empty case.

I freaked out.

James called the hotel where we’d stayed, and he called the bars and restaurants where we’d been. He came up empty, and I was crushed. I had spent YEARS hunting for the perfect pair of sunglasses, and now I had to start all over? The prospect was daunting.

But it was a challenge I had to accept. I am leaving for a vacation to Arizona at the end of next week, and a vacation such as this is too important for the shitty second-string sunglasses I keep in my car for emergencies. 
Like these gas station sunglasses. They're fine.
No, I must (once again) find the perfect sunglasses – and I have a week and a half in which to do it.

My sunglasses have been lost for four days, and I’m already disheartened by the new search. Since Sunday, I’ve bought and returned three different pairs of sunglasses – “well, I suppose I’d better buy these just in case I can’t find anything better” is my defeatist attitude.

So the moral of this story? I think it’s that I should avoid dark and loud and crowded bars from now on. Forever.

Also that I will never again let my sunglasses out of my sight. (See what I did there? Even in my sunglasses distress, I can’t pass up a good pun.)

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