'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
1990s FASHION: MANHOLE COVERS FOR YOUR FACE
The other day I saw a photograph from the mid-1990s. It was a picture of me sitting on the couch with one of my daughters. She looked so young and cute, but I had trouble focusing on her because I couldn’t stop staring at the huge glasses I was wearing. They were so big, they looked like the goggles worn by World War I biplane pilots. I couldn’t believe how goofy I looked with those oversized glasses.
Back in the ‘90s, I was sure those glasses were stylish. OK, we all know I have no aptitude for fashion (which might explain why, even after bailing out of engineering school halfway thru college, I’ve spent the last 30 years working with and around engineers, or as they’re often called, graduates of the Dilbert Fashion Institute).
So don’t take my word for it. I showed the photo to my wife, who does have good judgment regarding fashion (although apparently not good judgment regarding men). She agreed that back then, in the mid-90s, my glasses looked fine. The rest of my wardrobe, she noted, was, and remains, pretty awful. But now, looking at that 15-year-old snapshot, she laughed even harder than I did.
Has there ever been an item that has gone out of style as fast as those huge glasses? I can only think of one thing that’s even close. On January 1, 1980, the entire nation greeted a new decade by exclaiming in unison, “Omigod! What were we THINKING with those powder blue, polyester leisure suits and white shoes?!”
Thankfully, those hideous garments disappeared from society forever. (Except for a couple of reluctant regions of the country where you still can glimpse the occasional leisure suit, such as wedding receptions in rural Pennsylvania and the 3 p.m. Early Bird Buffet in suburban Orlando.)
But those “Fearless Fly” glasses? Wow, I still can’t believe I wore those things for so many years. It’s gotten to the point where you can barely watch a movie that was made in the mid-90s anymore. When you’re trying to pay attention, say, to what Harrison Ford’s character is saying, you keep getting distracted by all the other actors who look like they’re about to do some arc welding. The whole upper half of their heads are covered by spectacles with lenses about the same size as manhole covers—only heavier.
Now that tiny glasses are in style—including the ultra-trendy narrow rectangular model, which makes everyone who wears them, including women, look just like Keith Olbermann—you would think the prices would be lower. After all, one-quarter the material ought to be one-quarter the price, right?
No such luck. It’s like buying name brand sneakers for toddlers. A pair of teeny little Nikes that can fit in your shirt pocket cost the same as a pair of size 13s worn by a college basketball player.
It’s the same with glasses. Tiny little frames and lenses no bigger than your thumbnails still cost hundreds of dollars. And that’s not counting the eye exam, where young Dr. Chuckles gets a kick out of prescribing bifocals for middle-aged geezers like me.
New glasses are so pricy nowadays, I’ve decided if my current frames break, I’m not buying new ones. I’ll just dig out my old 1990s tortoise shell, horned-rimmed manhole covers and use them.
Yes, I realize people will laugh hysterically whenever they see me. (Except certain graduates of the Dilbert Fashion Institute, who will glance at me thru their own finger-smudged manhole covers and think nothing of it.) But overall, I guess I’d rather look like Bozo the Clown than Keith the Olbermann.
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