The Red Sunglasses

Owning as I do, a notoriously poor memory, I’m at a loss to remember exactly where I was when I first stumbled upon the red sunglasses…. I feel like it was either Cleveland, Ohio in a costume store with my adorable friend Mel, or at the Standard Five and Dime on California in the middle of the yuppie strip mall.

Me, in the red sunglasses, on an Amtrak bus

While I can’t tell you how long ago this was, or where, I do concretely remember picking them up and remarking that – even for the time – these were some preposterously huge red sunglasses. This was back when celebutantes and socialites all favored some mega-bugged eyed specs but these, oh, these made the others look reasonable. I debated about it for a while, eventually darting back to grab them before checking out. Were they ridiculous? Yes. Did I sorta love them? Yes. Did I look good in them? Do you even have to ask?

Chad X rockin' the reds and a helluva moustache at the Zeitgeist - back when you could take photos at the Zeitgeist.

See…this is what wound up being the hilarious part about the red sunglasses: they’re so bulbously undeniable that they could not go without being remarked upon. I rocked them proudly in Dolores Park, on Muni buses, even at night at house parties and the red sunglasses went from being a conversation piece to being the item that everyone had to try on.

Patrick discovers that the red sunglasses go great with bacon and bloody marys.

Again, my memory leaves me grasping for details but it became an inevitability: whenever I wore them, someone else had to take ‘em for a test drive. This went on for a while before I started snapping photos – the first one, of my fella after we’d left Cassidy’s in the Soma on one of the last nights that it actually was Cassidy’s -it’s called the Bloodhound now and has birds decorating the walls… It was two or three in the morning and we were cutting across alleys, making out and looking for a taxi and he put on the red sunglasses and I took a grainy photo with my phone: a hulk of a man barely containing a grin, looking like an after hours roadie rockin’ some southern grandma’s borrowed eye wear. It went from there.

Mig, in the first photo featuring the red sunglasses.

I now have seventy photos of folks wearing the red sunglasses: family members, coworkers from old jobs, pets, roommates, friends and in one case, an inanimate object. Putting them all together had always been my plan, but in leiu of buying a photo printer and seventy frames, I’ve done it the easy way and just posted them online in a Flickr feed. Paging through them brings back faces, names, reminders … jobs have changed, people have moved, had children, disappeared… but they were here, it happened, I have the proof.

Even my grandma got in on the action.

I still have the red sunglasses too. They’re hanging with eight other pairs; held together with a blue cupcake bandaid and glued together in two other places, they’re pretty fragile these days and are more for nostalgia than fashion. I think that five or so years is a long time to push the life of a pair of sunglasses bought at some forgotten location for $15, but I won’t get rid of them until they fall apart into too many pieces to glue back together. Even then, these photos aren’t going anywhere, they’re online like little ghosts able to slip in and out of where ever they’re called to.

Sunglasses on the mascot for Bon Temps, a cajun restaurant in San Luis Obispo that I wish would reopen already.


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