As I’ve mentioned before, if there’s one thing I really hate that isn’t soccer or Washington, it’s spending money. God only knows why – at the moment I’m sitting relatively pretty between what I made in the checkout room, graduation gift checks, and some inheritance.
Maybe it’s because I’m not 100% certain about my employment in LA just yet. Every time I spend any amount of money, I see a brief flash of myself broke and destitute, starving to death on the streets of LA. ”If only… I had… Eight… More… Dollars… I wish… I hadn’t… Gone… To Chipotle… On July 3rd 2011…”
That is the one exception that I make: Food. I’m more than willing to spend my money on food, because I genuinely consider myself something of a foodie. Plus, spending money at a restaurant gets you real estate in addition to food; you paid good money for that table, so you’re entitled to sit there as long as you damn well please and enjoy the atmosphere. This is a great way to get waiters to hate you.
Anything else, though, and I’m inclined to save, save, save. I wear a $19 watch from Walmart, I buy bulk socks at Costco, and I don’t have a smartphone. In fact, I’d say my phone – which barely takes low res pictures and doesn’t have a customizable background – would qualify for the short bus, were there such a thing for phones. This same spirit applies to my sunglasses.
I heard today that Oregonians buy sunglasses more frequently than anyone in the country, because every year we buy a pair for when it gets hot and sunny, then promptly lose them two weeks later when the monsoon season restarts and then go through the same process again the following year. Part of the reason it’s so funny is because it’s true.
Every summer when my participation in nerdy outdoor activities made eye protection necessary, I would search up and down for last year’s pair of sunglasses, not find them, and then head on down to Safeway wherein I would immediately grab the cheapest pair within reach and call it good. This was how I wound up spending three months wearing official NASCAR shades with little skulls on the frames.
This shit will not fly in LA. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, it is located in a desert next to a beach, so there’s a fair amount of sunlight. Also, many buildings are white or tope, which is probably meant to reflect heat from the interior but also does a bang up job of reflecting light into everyone’s eyes. The Walt Disney Concert Hall was either built by a sadist or somebody who was fucking an optometrist, because the entire building is made of chrome, and to stand within three blocks of it is like having somebody shine a Maglite in your face.
Under these circumstances, virtually everyone in the city wears sunglasses. Celebrities, poor people, Gary Busey, cops, rabbis, the blind – hell, even the marching band at the school that isn’t going to a bowl game this season wears them. It’s as much a part of the city’s culture as the film industry or breast implants.
Breast implants would be of little practical use to me, though, so instead I recently decided that I needed to get a really good pair of sunglasses – a pair that I would not lose. Spending a lot of money on sunglasses in Oregon is really kind of stupid because you never need them for very long; on the other hand, the weather here necessitates a high quality parka, and people spend accordingly. Good sunglasses are the LA equivalent of a good parka – the only difference is that nobody has ever looked cool in a parka.
A lot of sunglasses on the market today are targeted at people who want to give the impression of being athletic, outdoorsy men on the go. Naturally, these shades would look about as natural on me as breast implants, so I’ve stayed well away.
The only kind of sunglasses that I think ‘work’ for me are Ray Ban Wayfarers. While Oakleys say, ‘Yeah, bro, sun’s pretty bright up at the top of this mountain I’m about to BASE jump off of’, Wayfarers say, ‘I put these on because I wanted to drink Jack Daniels in the sun but it’s too fucking bright out here, goddamn it.’ This is a problem that I often have, which is why today I went to Sunglass Hut and bought a pair of Ray Bans.
A basic pair of Wayfarers cost $169. That is a lot of money for anyone, and especially a lot of money for me – I might spend $170 on the greatest meal of my life, but I’m pretty sure Ray Bans aren’t edible. Actually, hang on a second.
Yes, Ray Bans are definitely inedible. Moving on!
In this case, the logical course of action for me would be to get a pair of knockoffs; given how popular the Wayfarer look is, there are $25 knockoffs available just about everywhere. My roommates had several pairs of Ray Ban knockoffs with the 76 logo on them that they picked up at the Pac-10 championship.
There are two reasons I conquered my stinginess and shelled out the big bucks for a pair of authentic Ray Bans:
1) I probably would’ve felt roughly the same amount of guilt spending $20 on some shitty Ray Ban knockoffs with faulty UV protection as I do for spending $170 on the genuine article – the difference is that at least for the amount of money and guilt I’ve invested in my Ray Bans, I know I’ve got something good.
2) I am well aware that Ray Ban Wayfarers are the de facto shades of hipsters everywhere. The thing is, most hipsters I’ve seen wear knockoffs: Um, these aren’t Ray Bans. They’re English Laundry. Ray Bans are so over, Truman. I’m wearing an immensely popular name brand that I only recently got interested in because I saw other people wearing them. If you think that makes me a hipster, then we need to consult UrbanDictionary.
Truman Capps will commit seppuku if he loses these fucking shades.