A spectacular experience | TheUnion.com

A spectacular experience

Mike Drummond

Long ago, I bought some expensive aviator-type sunglasses. The salesgirl said they gave my “sculpted features a dashing air.” I didn’t question her motives, but since when are middle-aged jowls considered sculpted?

My new purchase was a mangle of metal and glassy shards within minutes. I’d tossed them dashingly on the driver’s seat, and forgot them until the moment AFTER I dashingly sat down.

“Dash it all!” I exclaimed.

I ran through a dozen pairs and the limit on my credit card during the next few weeks. Sat on, scratched, scuffed, abandoned, lost, abducted, filched, wandered. My spirit and wallet were broken. I no longer soared with eagles but waddled with the ground-bound turkeys.

Feeling lower than the lowest common denominator, I searched the drugstore for something to ease the pain. Instead, I bought my first pair of cheap sunglasses. Red plastic frames, mirrored lenses, 59 cents. They were loud and trashy, but so what? I figured they’d self-destruct before I left the parking lot.

They were my constant companions for over five years. When I sat on them – which I did often – they fought back, bruising my tailbone. And I couldn’t lose them if I tried. Once I forgot them in a coffee shop. Several blocks away, a breathless waitperson overtook my car ON FOOT clutching my obscene eyeware. And then, with a strange smile, she refused a tip.

Eventually, one of the screws that holds the earpiece on worked loose and disappeared into the drifts of debris on my pickup truck floor mat.

The drugstore sold replacement screws, but you can’t buy just one. A dozen of them come in a tiny plastic case half the size of a book of matches (perfect for misplacing!) and include a cute little miniature screw driver. But the cost! For a quarter of the price, I could buy an entire new pair of cheap sunglasses.

Which I did … chartreuse ones with yellow-tinted lenses, 69 cents. I repaired the old red ones with a paper clip inserted through the screw hole. They are my back-up pair, not that I’ve needed them these past few years.

Now I am finding that I can’t read any more. My arms are too short, there isn’t enough light from the sun, and the newspaper’s printing press blurs everything. Tweezing an embedded sliver (a daily occurrence here at Clear Creek Ranch) is now an all-day, team-participation event.

A magnifying glass brings things into focus, but both of my hands are needed elsewhere. Visor-mounted jeweler’s glasses are OK for extremely close work, but if my head moves too fast, I get queasy. Monocles seem pretentious and make me look like a silent movie villain plotting to blow up the crown prince’s zeppelin.

Still, I hate the thought of shelling out an eye-popping amount at the optometrist’s office. So I dropped by the same drugstore and headed for the cheap sunglasses. On the next rack over were “reading glasses” — the ones that look like the bottom half of regular glasses so you can look up from your reading and glaze bleary-eyed at the rest of the world. I cancelled the retirement party for my library card.

My wife claims that when I tilt my head forward to peer over the tops, it accentuates my sculpted jowls.

Dashing? Perhaps not. But my new glasses did help me under the dashboard. It took only a few seconds to fish that long-missing sunglass screw out of the floor mat dust bunnies.

My next project is the bathroom mirror. It makes me look old – something I never noticed until I got reading glasses.


Mike Drummond is a Nevada County writer whose column appears on Tuesday. You can write him in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945; or e-mail him at miked@theunion.com.

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