Brotherhood of the Traveling Sunglasses

“This is why I don’t buy expensive sunglasses,” I said to myself as I activated the flashlight app on my smartphone. It was a desperate situation, made worse by my groveling on the nasty floor of a movie theater, on my knees, crawling over sticky, spilled soda. I was in this compromised position because I lost my favorite sunglasses. As I scanned my light underneath the seats, my desperation grew.  These sunglasses were nice – expensive even.  I loved them. And no freaking Hollywood flick was worth losing them over. And so I searched, but to no avail. They were gone.

I’m notorious for losing my sunglasses, which is why I never pay hundreds of dollars for a pair. The outdoorsy dude in me certainly covets fancier shades, replete with polarized, scratch-proof lenses, space-age coatings, and scientifically engineered cranial frames with tri-axl hinge mechanism mumbo jumbos. But seeing as how I have a penchant for absentmindedly letting my sunglasses disappear, I was totally fine with sporting $12 cheapies from a big box store on my outdoor adventures. But for once in my life, I had an expensive pair of name-brand shades, and now (just my luck) they were missing.

My favorite shades were Native Throttles: asphalt grey with polarized interchangeable lenses, Polyamide frames, and rad-looking vents on the tops. They were comfortable, with rubber nose tabs that never slipped, and arms that fit over my ears and around my head perfectly.

After I first got my sunglasses, I immediately knew they were special when I slipped them over my eyes, which revealed the world in perfect, sun-reduced clarity. The outdoors never looked the same after that, as I gazed through them on all my outdoor adventures thereafter. And so, as I searched the darkened theater rows, I remembered the good times we had together, and wondered, if my sunglasses could talk, what adventures they would recall.

My sunglasses would probably mention the time we went canyoneering in Zion National Park together, as they scanned vertical canyon walls saturated with red, bespeckled by sunlight glittering off the water as I rappelled over falls and swam potholes in a desert nirvana. Or perhaps they would convey the speed of bombing down singletrack through lush forests of pine and aspen trees above Park City, holding on for dear life as the bike rattled over rock gardens and swooped around banked turns. They might even remember mellow times, like weekly ski tours with good friends. They would protect my eyes as I meditated in the skin track enroute to a mountain peak, only to be ceremoniously put away in a pocket, swapped out for goggles and a powder-choked descent. Indeed, a lot of Utah’s beauty was seen through those glasses. But instead of losing them properly in an epic ski crash or a whipper of a rock climbing fall, I lost them in a stupid movie theater.

Okay, I have to come clean about something though – I got the sunglasses for free. See, I acquired these lavish shades because my wife found them on the sidewalk. That fact didn’t diminish the sense of loss I felt in the theater though, as I came to adore them over the years, and didn’t relish the thought of actually spending over $100 to replace them. So as I left the theater empty handed, I accepted the fact that they were gone.

Later that evening, I called the theater to see if my shades had been turned into lost and found, but the nasal voice on the other end of the line said nobody turned in a pair of sunglasses that day. Crestfallen, I imagined a pimply-faced theater worker sweeping popcorn off the floor, discovering my shades, and pocketing them before his co-workers knew a thing. I deserved it too, seeing as how I didn’t throw away my popcorn bucket and empty soda cup, leaving them instead for mister pimple-face to pick up. As a result, karma swiped the glasses out of my possession.

It’s just as well. I got the sunglasses for free after some other poor schmuck dropped them on the street, and now it was someone else’s turn to enjoy them. Like the exchange of dollar bills from one grubby hand to the next, my sunglasses were on a similar journey, probably enjoying lyrical travels as they hopped from one owner to the next, like a Brotherhood of Traveling Sunglasses (dear God, did I just reference a teenage girl movie? What the hell is wrong with me?)

A week later, I girded my loins (so to speak) to unwillingly spend the replacement money for new, fancy-ass shades. My Native sunglasses spoiled me rotten, and replacement shades from a big-box store just weren’t going to cut it anymore. But before I made the trip to peruse shiny shades tagged with sticker-shock beneath locked glass, I threw a Hail Mary and called the lost-and-found one more time. After describing them to the nasal voice on the phone, the amazing happened. Yes, they were there, waiting to be returned. I was ecstatic. My favorite sunglasses were found!

Unfortunately, after getting my sunglasses back and putting them on, I noticed that the frames were all stretched out, surely because someone with a fat head tried them on in hopes that they would go unclaimed. As I left the theater with ruined sunglasses in hand, my rule was simply reconfirmed. “This is exactly why I don’t buy expensive sunglasses.”

One Response to “Brotherhood of the Traveling Sunglasses”

  1. Very interesting article with great information that I had previously not known.

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