Monday, January 11, 2016

The Great Sunglass Saga

Losing sunglasses did not start in my Third Third. I have left sunglasses all over the globe, wherever there is sun. Once I’m inside and remove them, they’re at risk; restrooms, restaurant tables, fitting rooms – all are like quicksand ready to suck the abandoned up.

But years ago, I acquired a pair of sunglasses that proved unlosable. I was visiting my high school friend, Rieva, in California, and I was left in a sunglass warehouse for an hour or so.

Rieva has a neighbor who managed to break her windows twice while pruning his family’s tree. He came over to fix the window, and a friendship developed. He wanted to start a sunglass kiosk, and Rieva was involved with writing about, coaching, and supporting entrepreneurs. She helped him out. That was back in 1995. Over the years, Rieva advised, he and his brother worked hard, and Sunscape Eyewear grew. By the time I was left to entertain myself in the sunglass warehouse, they were signing papers for international deals.

Their family is Muslim; Rieva is Jewish. But strong bonds developed and Rieva became an honored guest at family weddings. As discrimination against Muslims has grown, sometimes the family – and the business – faced harder times. But their friendship/partnership thrived.

And that meant lots of sunglasses. Lots and lots. I tried on dozens of sunglasses, checked myself out in the mirror. Tried on more. And then I found them:
They were perfect! Big and bold, bright and goofy. Just my style, like “wearing purple.” When Rieva and her friend got out of their meeting, I modeled. Everyone laughed and he said, “Take them,” told me the model name was “Dazed and Confused.” Even more perfect.
Those sunglasses were never left behind, never lost, never misplaced. True to form, my daughter hated them. “No one wears pink sunglasses,” she said. I’d point out pink sunglasses to her, and she’d say, “No one over ten wears pink sunglasses.” But I loved them, and they endured.

Until a friend sat on them in the car.

She felt terrible, immediately ran into a store to buy a replacement, which I ungraciously refused. I tried not to pout, but I’m pretty sure pouting symptoms escaped: “I’ll fix them,” I muttered. She was really a star, and I was really an immature shit.

I do repair things. If something’s torn, I mend it. If something’s broken, I try to get the new part. If something’s faded and dirty, I restore it. If I can’t do any of those things, I may even use it all torn, broken, and dirty. But even I know when it’s beyond hope. Those broken sunglasses were beyond hope. (My daughter did her happy dance.)

Not only had the metal hinge on one sidepiece snapped, but the plastic anchoring the hinge was shattered. I took them to opticians’ offices, where everyone looked, shook their heads, and said, “Not possible.” But I hung onto them, not ready to throw them away.
So here I was last week, blogging about eye doctors, preparing to go on vacation to a sunny place, and I decided to try again. I brought the sunglasses to Southside Optical, and instead of the shaking head and “not possible,” I was told to leave them for Chet. A half-hour later, Chet phoned.

He’d fixed them! He showed me how he’d had to re-melt and rebuild the plastic, cannibalize a hinge from somewhere else to replace the broken one. In the process, the other half of the hinge broke so he replaced that one, too. He said he was the only place that had “hot fingers” (or something like that) so he could melt it and fix it.

Chet saved the day, saved the sunglasses, saved it all from a “not possible” fate. Sometimes, the world just works.

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