June 25, 2010

a tale of two spectacles, or, eyeglasses: a love story

Yes, call me obsessed.

I recently lost my eyeglasses, frames that I had had for 15 years. Yes, you read that correctly: 15 years. Another person may have said to themselves, hey, I got many good years of use out of those frames, & now it is high time for a change.

But, good readers, without a twinge of irony, I must say that I loved those eyeglass frames. I felt they were part of my identity, & aesthetically, I found them beautiful & loved the way they complimented my face.

Allow me to go back in time, to the Mission District in San Francisco, where I first encountered the eyeglasses of my dreams...

But first, a brief bit of personal optometrical history: the first pair of eyeglasses I acquired was while I was in college in Ithaca, New York, when it became apparent that in order to make out the equations on the blackboard in the vast chemistry lecture hall, I needed eyeglasses. I got a pair of small, round John Lennon-esque spectacles, with tortoiseshell rims & those crazy wrap-around ear things that prevent them from falling off your head if you are looking down - quite handy for bicycling & skiing, etc. They were practical, & did the trick.

Fast forward to the mid-90s, when the thought of wearing the aforementioned frames in public on the fashionable streets of San Francisco was mortifying, & film subtitles were getting blurrier & blurrier. It was apparent I had to do something, so I found a well-respected optometrist in the Mission who also carried a great selection of frames. After spending a good afternoon trying on frames, I finally decided upon a pair of angular wire rims, nothing terribly special, but again, they did the trick & complimented my face well. But just "meh".

Feeling rather unsatisfied, & thinking that perhaps I should feel more than "meh" about these devices that would in effect become part of my facial features, I looked to the other end of the shop...

And then I saw them.

In the case of higher-end frames, the case I had written off as beyond my means at the time, were a pair of Alain Mikli black wire frames, with a lovely chunk of tortoiseshell on the bridge of the nose. Simple, chic & classy, with a slight cat-eye to them. Perfection!

It was love at first sight. The incredibly generous optometrist allowed me to pay for them in a few installations, so I could wear them out on the street that day. And, fifteen years later, they stood the test of time. I still loved them, & got compliments on them from friends & complete strangers alike.

And then I lost them.

I called the last place I remembered wearing them, & inquired into their lost & found. Thrice in one week. The kind & goodly folks who answered the phone were very patient & helpful, but alas, had not found them. So, in order to be able to drive & function as a normal sighted person, I got new glasses within the next few days.

My new frames are gorgeous: Kate Spade golden brown horn-rims, rimless on the bottom, with a beautiful pea-green color on the inside. Not the lightening bolt when I first tried on the Mikli's, but definitely a more mature, measured love when I saw them on the sparkly shelf in the optometrist's shop. I realized it was time to start considering a second pair, a spare, since it had become painfully obvious what a royal pain in the arse it is to be stranded without good eyesight. But I still missed my old pair.

And then I found them.

We went back to the restaurant/pub where I'd last remembered wearing them, &, not being able to let it go, I told the waitress the (abbreviated, I mean, I know I'm obsessed) story of my eyeglasses. And then she pulled them, the frames through which I'd viewed the world for over a decade, out from behind the cash register. I felt tears well up in my eyes, I'm ashamed to say.

Well then, Monsieur Mikli's, in the near future you will get lenses with my updated prescription,& in the meantime will be my spare pair. And Madame Spade, welcome. I think this is the beginning of a long, beautiful love affair.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks so much for stopping by - your comments make my day!