Monday, February 19, 2007

The Double-Edged Sword of Hipster Eyewear

I have a pair of hipster glasses that I nearly never wear. They're tiny little wireframe things, the lenses a very rounded-off octagonal shape, not much bigger than my eyes themselves.

I bought them in the early Aughts, when my hair was longish, and I tended toward laziness in the shaving department. I labored under the apprehension that they gave me something of a Benjamin Franklin aura, suggesting an aging eighteenth-century rakehell with an eye for a well-turned calf, a nose for scientific discovery, and well-honed skill for putting the latter in service to the former. I pictured myself in a Paris salon circa 1780, fascinating the throngs with "To Anacreon in Heav'n" on the Glass Armonica and setting the ladies a-twitter with my Leyden Jar, administering mild electric shocks to the naughty bits.

Funny, what a pair of glasses can do.

The Ben Franklin delusion was shattered when I submitted to a haircut a few months later. I tend to go all-in on haircuts, never trusting a mere trim to preserve the spirit of the coiffure. Far too many times have I allowed some black-clad fashionista to have his or her way with my locks, only to cringe at the asymmetrical horror that glared balefully at me from the mirror upon scissors-down. No, far better to crop the whole thing down to the scalp, leaving a bit of fun on top, and then let the mess grow out to shoulder length again. Thus is happiness preserved -- and, haircuts reduced to one or (at most) two a year, the savings are substantial. A penny saved being, after all, as my patron saint of eyewear once observed, a penny earned.

But donning my hipster glasses after one such shearing was an awful revelation. My eighteenth-century lothario was gone. In his place there sat instead a policy wonk, the second-string Washington figure that haunts the periphery of the Sunday gabfests waiting to fill in for an ailing Charles Krauthammer or Fred Barnes. I looked like the sort of bowtied academic twat who sits in a well-appointed office at the American Enterprise Institute and comes up with justifications for disgustingly amoral policies, for the failure of which neither he nor anyone in his miserable profession will never be held accountable: Numbers supporting an Iraq Surge? Possible deaths of five hundred US troops and uncounted thousands of Iraqi civilians? For the purpose of quelling virtually universal home-front dissatisfaction with the miserable progress of your war of choice against the wrong enemy? Coming right up, sir! Next Tuesday sound about right?

The glasses, needless to say, came off immediately. On went the contact lenses I keep in reserve.

This morning, however, on a whim, I put them on again. A certain satisfying post-operative shagginess has set in, hair beginning to tickle the collar, salt-and-pepper beard filling in. Given a few more weeks of hirsuteness, it begins to seem possible that Monsieur Franklin just might make a comeback at the salon. Attendez-bien, mesdames!


Employee of the Month said...

I feel your pain. I have a pumpkinhead of Greg Lakeian proportions so the choice of eyeglasses which actually fit my cranial double-wide at the shop is usually slim and none. Hipness never enters the picture.

blue girl said...

Jeddie, you have such a way with words...

Anyway, I got glasses for the first time in my life about a month ago. I'm not sure how I would explain what I *look* like in them. But, I *feel* like I'm in another dimension when I have them on. Like I'm wearing a disguise or something.

My eyes aren't too, too bad and I keep forgetting to put them on. But! Right before I read this post, I was surfin' around and thought Geez, the type's so small -- kind of hard to read. So, I went up under "View" and "Make Text Bigger.

I think doing that and then clicking here means that I should be wearing my disguise more often.

David Harmon said...

Heh -- I wish I could get away with yearly haircuts, but what's left of my hair tries to get wavy, while my beard gets scraggly. It just looks too screwy. I got a new style of glasses a couple or three years ago; the guy I bought them from commented that my old style was "preceding me into the room". (The new ones were much smaller.)

A couple of months ago, I bought a pair with those auto-darkening lenses, but they suck -- they take minutes to change, either way.

Neddie said...

Anyway, I got glasses for the first time in my life about a month ago. I'm not sure how I would explain what I *look* like in them. But, I *feel* like I'm in another dimension when I have them on. Like I'm wearing a disguise or something.

I remember clear as a bell the day I walked out of the optometrist's shop in 1984 with my first pair of specs. Midtown Manhattan took on a wealth of detail that was nearly frightening -- I kept staring up at the tops of buildings and noticing architectural filigrees and decorations that had hitherto been dirty smudges and smudgy dirt. It was...beautiful.

If you want a really weird variation on the theme, try a pair of contact lenses. It took me months to get used to the fact that the vision-correction mechanism was now no longer a few fractions of an inch away from my eye, and were instead on the surface of my eye itself. But now that I'm acclimated, I'll always choose contacts over glasses.

I had a friend who did the Lasik thing, and he swears by it. Me, I dunno -- I think you can keep your high-energy concentrated light-beams away from my eyes, thanks very much.

Right before I read this post, I was surfin' around and thought Geez, the type's so small -- kind of hard to read. So, I went up under "View" and "Make Text Bigger.

I do all my word processing and similar tasks with the type set at 14-point Palatino. Why fight it? is my attitude.

my old style was "preceding me into the room".

I once had a leather jacket that did exactly the same thing. Ned, old cock, I said to myself, that jacket is wearing you.

Tom said...

Ah, yes, Ben "in the dark all Cats are grey" Franklin, the ur-MILF lover. We shall never see his like again, alas, alas.

I can still remember getting my first pair, Neddie. If being able to resolve the fine architectural details of mighty skyscrapers was startling, imagine being able to see in 3D for the first time (in years, anyway), after having depth effectively removed from my vision by having one eye that was significantly more nearsighted than the other. I walked out of the Sears in Chicago where I was fitted for my glasses, looked down the street... and SPA-DOING! I can't imagine that having a third eye open up in my forehead would be more shocking.

I too made the switch to contacts some years ago, and prefer them greatly; unfortunately, I also need reading glasses for near vision now, and they tend to get lost with great alacrity and frequency. I've been contemplating going back to real glasses for bifocals, but I'd regret looking more professorial and less like Ming the Merciless.

m said...

As I add more and more ersatz components,I object less and less to the patina they add to my persona. I guess these are the first steps toward a mechanist existence (thanks, Bruce Sterling).Radical Old, here we come!

roxtar said...

I invested 10 dollars for a hair clipper. I put in the number 2 guide, and keep running it over my head until no more hair is being cut. Then I do the same thing to my winter goatee.

And bonus points to EOTM for:
"I have a pumpkinhead of Greg Lakeian proportions..."

Dude looks like he's carrying a TV around on his shoulders. I, too, have the big head. I used to live by the credo that "a big head needs big hair." Then I started balding in that hideous Col. Klink pattern. So I gave up on looking like John Lennon and started looking like V. I. Lenin.

Kevin Wolf said...

I don't think I came up with this phrase, though I can't remember where I heard it: The whole hipster eyewear thing results in "attitude glasses." Those ones that look like the biggest possible hornrims you could make and still have the tiniest glasses possible. Glasses, in other words, worn by those with attitude so they can look down at the attitude-wanting slouches like me.

Me, I just wear glasses to, like, see.

I'm contemplating a return to contacts. I too draw the line at lasers within twenty feet of my eyes.

The hair aspect of this is ignored as I haven't enough to worry about it anymore.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever considered uisng pinhole glasses instead of regular eye glasses?

tab1e said...

these glasses are very a-hole indie coffee shop mac user. but i love them. i just popped out my sunglass lenses in my wayfarers and put in regular lenses. and boy are they hip. cheers to good vision