Today I broke down and bought a pair of sunglasses. I haven’t owned a pair in about two years, and last week I realized that spending another broiling Houston summer driving into the sun, essentially blind, might be irresponsible. There are a lot of Texas Edition trucks on the interstate, after all, and I wouldn’t want to end up wedged into some Texas Edition grille like an unfortunate insect. I am also planning a BEACH TRIP in August, a prospect so exciting that it deserves all caps. BEACH TRIP.
A few years ago, I tried a more methodical approach. I skimmed a few articles in fashion and women’s magazines about choosing the correct frames for your face. This led to some uncomfortable mirror-staring and a series of somewhat ridiculous questions about the shape of my face. Am I oval, heart-shaped, or round? There seemed to be an implicit hierarchy. Really, who wants to admit to a round face? Do I have a square jaw? (As an English major, I like the more literary description of “lantern-jawed.”) And will I take Cosmopolitan‘s advice and trace the outline of my face in lipstick? This seems like a waste of expensive cosmetics, and I don’t even own any lipstick. Would Burt’s Bees lip balm work? And is it against the rules to include a curled mustache? I’ve always wondered what I would look like with a curled mustache. Maybe a parrot on my shoulder, wearing a wee eye-patch and eating a cracker.
Arrrrr! I am a lantern-jawed pirate! Come sit on me big wooden deck! (That last part was for you, bee!)
Fifteen minutes in, I began to realize that I had spent more time interpreting this meaningless exercise than the staff writer spent piecing it together between apple martinis. After decoding the contours of my face, I returned to the magazine in question only to discover that its editors recommend a pair of $250 Gucci sunglasses meant to transform me into a sun-kissed starlet.
If I bought said sunglasses, I would find a way to sit on them the next day.
My new sunglasses-buying philosophy is much simpler. My goal: to purchase a pair that communicates loud and clear that I know I am wearing ridiculous sunglasses. That I flout the cultural imperative to use eye-wear to communicate style or status. Flout I say! An onlooker, happening upon me in the car or on the beach, might think: “Those sunglasses are so large, they must be a joke! These are ironic sunglasses!” Or perhaps the shocked observer would assume that I must wear large sunglasses due to some sun sensitivity problem. “That unfortunate woman. Her lantern-jawed, round face is certainly well suited to those $250 Gucci sunglasses, but she is doomed to wear those bug-eyed, $12 Target frames.”
There are, of course, risks to this new methodology. In a pair of bug-eyed aviators, I could be mistaken for a cast member from The Hills, drunk on Patron and lost in Houston.
It hasn’t happened yet, but I remain vigilant.