My Glasses Are Yellower Than Yours

June 11th, 2011 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

I thought I had yellow glasses before (see here). I did not, but do now.

My aesthetic contribution to my son’s recent wedding was springing my new specs. They were obvious to all, as I solemnized the event and stood before the assembled 70.

Several of the groomsmen, bridesmaids and guest commented, typically, “Nice glasses!” As the occasion was in the arboretum, perhaps I fit with the flowering trees.

I consider myself relatively clothing and accessory conservative…short of glasses. For previous jobs requiring neckties, I was wont to reps and such, the dull stripes of the timid. It has been my wife who bought me the well received Tobasco-themed, red with black Chinese characters and such.

Yet, getting glasses in the third grade led me to despair over the dreadful sameness of boys and men’s eyewear. Back to us boomers, but still through today, by what they are offered and what they choose, males tend to boring spectacles. Behold the men with tortoise shell, black, brown, wire rim and similar yawn-producing and nondescript frames, all about us.

Not I.

Particularly for the past three decades of lucking into a similarly eye-adventurous optician in Boston, I’ve had fun with glasses. More men should.

Eyes of the Beholder

I think of a big meeting of the Society for Technical Communication. I had my previous pair of yellow frames and got lots of compliments from women. My group was the people who write computer manuals and such, not famous for artistic statements and appreciation. Two men commented separately that they too were daring with eyewear. Each had wire rims, one with a gray frame instead of black, silver or gold, and the other with a frame where the wire did not cover the bottom third or so around the lens. I can’t say I was overwhelmed by their daring.

Let’s be plain. Particularly on the East Coast and more generally in the U.S., men don’t get a lot of glasses choices. You can verify that by walking into an optician and comparing the racks of women’s and men’s sample frames. Even if you ask for catalogs, there’s not much beyond earth tones and a bit of metal.

My guy Len Shwom though understands. On  the advice of my NYC insurance agent, when he visited us after we moved here, I tried Gopen Optical three decades ago when he and his father Sydney were in Chinatown. It turned into a family affair with my wife and three sons getting fitted.

Sydney is gone and Len moved the business to Dedham Square, but he remains far more flexible and innovative than any of the chains. Len is kind of a Clark Kent of opticians, with superpowers and surprises all the time.

Same Old, Same Old

Len appreciates my eagerness for a flash of excitement in the necessary. Indeed, isn’t that appetite what keeps us from leading the same tedious day over and over again?

He has confirmed what I heard from chain opticians — colorful and innovative man’s frames are available widely in Europe and a little on the West Coast. The manufacturers and vendors determine who will and therefore who can buy what and where.

Len has long been a frame magician or elf though. I’d come in for a new pair of glasses and he’d beam. He’d squirreled away several frames he’d picked up at shows and conventions or stumbled on in catalogs. He’d also help me track down new colors and materials. We’ve had me in red plastic or metal, green metal, and truly funky black metal sunglasses frames.

In fact, that may be the key to a guy who wants to kick off the mundane. Think sunglasses.

Foster Grant, Ray Ban and others made both sunglasses and prescription frames. Pop out the darkened lenses and voila, prescription specs!

He also tells me first that his father was very customer oriented and would say, “If a second customer asks for something you don’t have, you’d better get it.” Second, just having frames like mine on the rack inspires men, if not that far, at least to avoid the most clichéd choices.

My garish yellow frames are surely outre for many. You needn’t go from milquetoast wires or dull plastics to mine though. There are lots of interim steps. Visit any site that specializes in frames or the manufacturers’ sites. Don’t limit yourself to the prescription pages.

A decent optician or my great one can set you up. If you’re thinking mid-life crisis, a few hundred dollars for some funky eyeglasses are a lot cheaper than a sports car or lover. They also come with out parking charges or jewelry bills. Plus, you can put them in their case whenever you want.




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