Just over a year ago, I got prescription glasses. For years, I hadn't been able to see distant objects very well, and over time I also had trouble reading street signs or words on the TV.
I spent $500 on my new glasses. That's a good chunk of money that I'd normally never drop on one single item, except for maybe a plane ticket. MAYBE.
But I figured these specs would last me for years, so I may as well splurge on designer frames. And, while I was at it, get the best "glare free" fancy pants lenses too.
For a few months, life was grand with my new glasses. People said they made me look hip. And cute. And I, in turn, felt hip and cute.
Then we got Seamus the puppy who promptly found my glasses and chewed on them. The left arm (stem? stick? what is that called?) came off and he left little tooth marks on the lenses.
Angry, I ignored Seamus for a few hours. He didn't seem to notice. How does one teach a dog not to chew glasses? It's probably easier to teach a human not to leave her glasses on the coffee table.
I threw my mangled glasses into a drawer, figuring I'd get the arm re-attached...eventually. After all, I'd spent years squinting to read the menu at Starbucks, I could certainly handle it again.
I handled it for, oh, 6 months.
I know, I am a horrible procrastinator.
Finally, after nearly turning the wrong way down a one-way street, I decided it was time to get my glasses repaired. So on my lunch break one day last week, I drove them to Lenscrafters, where I'd purchased them in the first place.
"My dog ate my glasses," I announced to the woman at the front desk. God, I'm so adorable.
"Oh dear. Well let's see."
I opened the case to produce the chewed frame and the detached arm. For effect, I separated the two pieces by a few inches when I set them on the counter.
"Now, we can't fix those here, but..." What? Why not? Are you not a maker of glasses? Do you not have tools? "Here is the business card of Joe Roberts Optical. It's on Magnolia. He should be able to solder that back on."
So I drove to the block of Magnolia where I thought I'd find this store. I parked my car and then walked up and down the street, but I didn't see it anywhere.
Finally, I spotted what looked like the door to a small storefront, but was actually more of an open archway that led to a secret courtyard filled with many blue doors. There were all sorts of businesses hiding back here. Accountants and talent agents and chiropractors. And it looked as though nothing had changed since the 60s --faded signs, cracked paint. It was eerily silent. No one else was walking around. I felt as though I'd stumbled upon a hidden time portal. (That last statement gives you some indication of how desperate I am for a little adventure in my life.)
I found Joe Roberts Optical at the end of one of the corridors. I opened its blue door and walked into a teeny tiny room with two chairs and a torn leather couch. The walls were covered by wood paneling and signed headshots of old actors, presumably Mr. Roberts' patrons.
No one was in the room to greet me. To my left there was a doorway into a small office with a desk and 2 chairs. And behind that, another doorway leading to a back room. What a weirdly deep space.
I stood there silently, looking at the headshots in the front room. George Burns! Huh.
"Hello?" I heard a man's voice from the back room.
"Come in, sit down."
I presumed he meant for me to enter the room with the desk, so I did just that. At the same time, an old man came through the doorway to the back room. He struggled to walk, and used the handle of the open door to support himself. It made me sad.
We met on opposite sides of the desk in the center of the room. He was completely adorable.
"My dog ate my glasses."
Just as I'd done at Lenscrafters, I dumped my mangled glasses onto the desk. He picked up the pieces and examined them. "Well, I can't solder this."
Crap. I imagined this meant the frames were now totally useless and I'd have to drop $500 on a new pair.
"You see, if you solder it, it will melt this plastic. But I can try to dig up another one of these (he held up the detached arm) and attach that instead."
"You mean find some random piece and attach it."
"Yes. If I can match the color close enough."
So I left my glasses there for him to fix. And by fix, I mean attach some foreign arm that came from who knows where, thereby negating the entire point of designer frames.
A few days passed and I called to check up on my glasses.
"Are they ready?"
"I think so."
"Ok...can I come get them?"
"How much will it be?"
"Twenty dollars." Score! Suddenly I didn't care what my glasses looked like. I'll put up with a lot for a good bargain.
I made my way back to his store and he greeted me. His shakey hand held out my glasses.
"Here. Try them on."
I wanted to look at the new arm a little better, but didn't want to give the impression that I cared about it. So I put the glasses on.
When I did, he smiled. "Good as new."
And so now I have these glasses with two different arms. The new one is tortoiseshell, whereas the original is solid brown. And the new one has this little metal diamond on it instead of "Ralph Lauren." And also the new one is sort of sticky, like it had been wrapped in tape.
But that's okay. Because I like Joe and his tiny store in the time portal.
Also, it's physically impossible for anyone to see both sides of my head at once. So no one will ever know about my Frankenspecs.