Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spectacles, Testicles...

...Wallet, and Watch.
Two weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business, when I noticed some smudges on the lenses of my glasses. Now, I have been wearing glasses since the 3rd grade, I know a thing or two about wiping my glasses on my shirt. I do it many times a day, I've done it thousands of times in my life. The kindly folks at LensCrafters always tell you not to do that, but I refuse to carry around a lens wiping cloth. I mean, what am I, a nerd? Well, yeah, I am, but nevertheless, I ain't carrying no lens cloth. In any case, shirt-wiping my glasses had never been a problem. Never before had my glasses crumbled in my hands the second I touched shirt to lens. Well, never say never, because it happened this time, two weeks ago as I sat at my desk with a plan to be productive (by plan I mean a list of web videos I needed to see that day). There was no snap, there was no crack; there was only a soft rip, a sigh as my old beloved black plastic frames gave up, with one final gasp from the death throes. There was no fixing them, I knew that right off... they had split right at the corner, above the hinge. I could break out the masking tape... but, while I'm still as nerdy as I was in 3rd grade, I'm an adult now and I'd rather just break out the credit card. I had no back ups, I needed to get some glasses in a hurry. My dreams of a "productive" Saturday at my computer were dashed.

Looking into the sun
LensCrafters and their one-hour production time got my money once again (that's quite the racket they got over there, by the way... we should all have gotten into the glasses business). These are my new glasses, seen above, to the left, and below. I went bigger and more Risky-Business-by-way-of-Squints-from-The-Sandlot-by-way-of-Woody-Allen. I like them, but.... I am worried I am veering too far into hipster doofus territory. Usually, I prefer not to call attention to my self. I feel like these glasses are a little too "look at me." Of course, they are just dark brown, plastic glasses of a shape people have been wearing since the 50s... nobody cares but me. Probably nobody really thinks twice when they see me, no matter how aware I might be of my new look. But, I really do like them, they're different. Different enough from my old ones to not bore me, at least.

Actually, they mostly make me wish I was a rock star. Like an indie-band, sensitive-beard-rock-and/or-blues-revival, no-hard-drugs, maybe-a-half-sleeve-of-tasteful-tattoos, Roy-Orbison-covering, wife-and-kid-on-the-road-with-me, kind of a rock star. I could be like the bass player, or something. Bass player for the Reluctant Hipsters, recently signed to Jack White's record label. I could totally live that life.
His name was Joel in this movie. True fact.
The middle school teacher stink eye.
Behind the blogging curtain.
These pictures make it apparent I now have full-fledged "Coke bottle" lenses. I guess the windows through which I view my world have gotten thicker over the years. Time passes and now I can't remember a time when I wasn't wearing glasses; they are intertwined with my identity and my memories. 

One of my most vivid glasses-wearing memories comes from what I remember of one afternoon in little league. I remember I was pitching, up on the mound wearing my too baggy baseball pants, and it started to rain. The rain drops collected on my big, square, '80s-computer-programmer, wire-frame glasses, which were held to my face with a Florida State Seminoles-emblazoned Croakie. Between pitches, which I am sure were expertly delivered, I was wishing I'd had some windshield wipers to clear my view. I don't remember too much else about the whole of my little league experience, except that I played only one season, my number was lucky 7, I played every position except catcher, the coach was kind of a douche, and I once hit two triples in one game. Hey, some people's athletic ability peaks at age 9, don't be jealous. Hate the game, not the player.

Only a couple years before that rainy afternoon on the mound, I was peering through my glasses at picture books... a fact I had to recall recently as part of the first assignment in my Reading Fundamentals teaching certification class. I had to do a book report on my favorite childhood book, explaining why it meant so much to me. There were many that I could remember, but only a few that I remember having an emotional connection to, and could still feel that emotional pull when I thought about them now, some 25 years later. I know I loved and owned many of The Bernstein Bears books (they were Jewish, right?), but I couldn't remember any one of them specifically. When I thought back, only one image, one picture from one of my kids' books, kept coming up in my mind. It was this picture from a Little Golden Book - purchased for .76 cents, on sale from the retail price of .89 cents - called Mr. Bell's Fixit Shop:

Take a close look at that doll. Jesus. That little girl crying over her awful, post-apocalypse doll haunted my memories. That doll is creepy, man. But, beyond the chill-inducing doll, I was affected by the rest of the book, as well. It is really about the idea of having a "broken heart" and how you can fix it. At first, Mr. Bell the fixit man says that he could "fix everything but broken hearts," but by the end, after he fixes up the little girl's doll, she corrects him. It turns out, with the tools of kindness and selfless compassion, he can "fix everything even broken hearts." I remember being knocked out by the idea of having a broken heart... The picture made it seem like a very literal idea, which was fascinating. But, I also knew what they meant, and the seeds of my romantic, emo tendencies were sown. To this day, I am far more concerned with what the heart is feeling than with what the head is thinking. Sure, I like thinking, but I am turned on by heart, by emotion, by feeling.

Wait a minute, hold the emo phone, I have just seen a headline on the internet. Besides feelings and crap, there is another thing that turns me on: eating. And the big food news of the week is: In-N-Out Burger is opening in Dallas now... this is huge news, people! In-N-Out is a well known and loved, cult-status burger chain in California, Nevada, and Arizona, mostly. Their expansion into Texas signals possible future expansion to other states, maybe someday even states beginning with the letter F. They are my favorite fast-food burgers, despite their underlying Jesus-ness. Nothing like a good In-N-Out! That's what she said, etc...
Anyway, I realize while reading this article about In-N-Out how proud I am that I have experienced first-hand most of the best regional fast foods from across the nation. PROUD, as if I have accomplished something great... I am not even joking about this. I genuinely love knowing that I know what a double-double tastes like, or a Taco John's Potato Ol├ęs-stuffed burrito, or a Whataburger, or a White Castle, or a Fatburger, or a Del Taco, or a Carl's Jr (and it's affiliates The Green Burrito and Hardee's), or a Steak 'n Shake, or a Jack in the Box, or a Jollybee, or a Checker's, or a Chick-Fil-A (another expanding Jesus outfit), or a Famous Original Ray's Pizza. I have tasted the daily sustenance of many regions... the locally renowned, cult-followed fast food joints. The fast food you can't get in every town, everywhere, but has still entered into the pop-culture. Some of these chains are amazing and deserve to be everywhere; some are foul, guaranteed stomach busters that should be cast off from the earth as the abominations they are (I'm looking at you, White Castle). But, I wouldn't give up any of these experiences... some of them have been transcendent, time capsule-worthy (or at least blog-worthy), mind-blowing moments that I would love to repeat or relive over and over again.

My fast food fetishizing actually goes hand in hand with my general romantic outlook on life. Just like I'd like to relive a double-double with grilled onions every single day (my cholesterol level thanks the stars In-N-Out isn't in Florida), there are other moments of pure happiness, peace, and love that I savor in my memory and would like to go back to over and over again, too, if I could.

This reminds me of a line I recently swooned over in a book. The line comes from City of Thieves by David Benioff: She leaned forward and kissed me on the lips. Her mouth was cold, her lips rough from the winter wind, and if the mystics are right and we are doomed to repeat our squalid lives ad infinitum, at least I will always return to that kiss.

Jim Carrey's name in this movie was Joel, too.
Now, that's just pretty. And the distillation of the kind of romanticism of life moments I'm talking about. It reminded me right away of the ending of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, an amazing, extremely romantic (in a sci-fi, brain-teaser sort of way) movie. In the very last scene, after Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet have spent an hour and a half struggling with their break-up and struggling to literally hold on to the memories of their relationship at the same time, they agree to try again, even if it means they will end up in the same sad place. They look at each other and simply say, "OK." It is the most profound "OK" in the history of movies. They are agreeing to enjoy the journey together, even knowing the ending may be a wreck. They are agreeing to love; love and memories, because they are so much better than hate and loss.

By the way, Benioff also wrote 25th Hour, which became an underrated, under-seen, quite mesmerizing Spike Lee movie. This has nothing to do with nothing, but if you have 5 minutes, click that link and watch that scene. Amazing stuff. I HAVE to watch this movie every time I see it on TV.

I guess I'm about done here. Yep, that's it.
I like my glasses. Look out for Reluctant Hipster tour dates. And remember: There's a time for playing it safe and a time for...

1 comment:

  1. ahem "your glasses are an integral part of your style..."