When you folks purchase, covet or wish for something- what dictates the desire? Is it pure aesthetics? Or exclusivity? Flashy exuberance maybe?
A desire to stick with the herd? Or to show- off your class and breeding…
Unconsciously, so many of these factors influence our decision when it comes to shopping for clothes, personal accessories, gadgets, automobiles, homes…..practically everything.
There is one factor that supercedes everything else when Dr J decides to buy something- HISTORY. The item/ product should have a story behind it. Some substance. A tale to recount. A meaning….
Of course, whatever the item, it better look bloody, darn good as well!
One day, J saw this picture on a random internet site…
She thought, hey this would look good on me, since I too have a forehead the size of a football field and jaws akin to a recently pubertal boy…
So she went about researching the pair…
Aaah! The Ray Ban Wayfarers … Those eh….
She always knew such sunglasses existed….but she had no clue their history dated back to 1956…
The wayfarers in 1956, broke the mould and shunned the aviator style while also ditching the metallic frames to go for the more modern plastic frame. Designed by Raymond Stegeman, an American optical designer, they were immensely popular in the 50’s and 60’s.
They saw a dip in popularity in the 70’s. Clever product- placement marketing strategies and extensive mainstream movie and television exposure led to their revival in the 80’s.
They again tapered off in the 90’s. But were back with a bang in the mid 2000’s.
Despite several design overhauls and modifications to appease the present times, the original, classic design is still widely popular. The true wayfarer- enthusiasts will definitely prefer to own the original design.
The appeal, I guess lies in its unisex, classy and minimalistic design. It’s not overtly flashy or brash. The original designs had muted color schemes and could hence be worn by the young and old. Some of the biggest celebrities have been partial to the Wayfarers when it comes to sunglasses. They are not limited by face shape or size.
All this research, was done a few years ago…..
As J researched, she fell in love with the iconic sunnies. She desperately wanted to own a pair of them. Her search for and the attainment of her perfect Wayfarer took almost 2 years. She tried on scores of pairs, kept dilly- dallying, re-thinking….
Should I buy the original?
Should I go for the 50mm or the 52mm?
Black or brown?
What should the tint of the glass be?
It went on….
The point was not to buy “any” or “many” and then use what she liked best….NO! The true aim was to buy only THE ONE….
Mr H stood witness to all the elaborate trial and error, and reassess and try again schemes…
From Bangalore to Davangere to Trivandrum to Dubai to London to Chennai to Doha….And then back again to Bangalore….
Unbelievably, after all the store- hopping in some really hip and fashionable cities, she ended up buying her pair at a nondescript store in Trivandrum, Kerala (India)!
One day, a few years ago, in the peak of summer, that too in the afternoon Mr H decides to put an end to this “Wayfarer Saga”. He tells J that she needn’t even worry about parking, he’d drive her around and all she had to do was to walk into every store that stocks Ray-Bans and hunt for what she wanted..
They go into 8 stores in Trivandrum that day. J walks out of every one of them empty- handed and with a scowl on her face.
J is one morose chappie…..
Some are too big, some too light, some not dark enough, some not polarized…..
She never imagined it would be this hard! She decides to bury her “Perfect Wayfarer” dreams for a while.
A couple of days later, Pandora’s Box gets opened again, when J spots a dusty, lone Wayfarer in a display case at a small mall.
She asks the salesman to show it to her. She tries it on. It looks good. Feels good.
It is the classic design but it’s not the usual black tinted glass. The frame is black though. The frame does not “sit” on her malar bone. It is almost perfect.
Mr H watches the drama in silence.
J finally turns toward him and poses. He gives a barely perceptible nod. He is man of simple gestures and minimalism.
She knows. It’s the one. Asks the salesman to pack it up.
The pot- bellied, middle- aged uncle-ish salesman starts filling out the warranty card.
Mr H inspects the thing that has caused him so much trouble. It seems to have a tiny spot on the rim of the glass that does not rub off. Shows it to J. J’s forhead creases. Oh Oh! It’s NOT PERFECT. Is it old? Worn maybe? Naa… But still…. After all this, should she take that “imperfect” one home?
No. She tells the sales- uncle she will not be buying it after all. He stares at her. Peering down through glasses that dangle at the middle of his nose. He does not speak a word but J feels like he’s trying to bore a hole into her skull through his gaze. She practically stumbles out of the store. Vows to never, ever visit that mall again.
That incident re-kindles the Wayfarer fire in J. Every RayBan advertisement/ hoarding stokes it some more. She starts getting in and out of optical stores again.
Every night though, her thoughts go back to the “one with the spot” being guarded by it’s pot-bellied, deathly gazed knight. Maybe the spot wasn’t so bad. Maybe it could be rubbed off with some alcohol. Maybe, it was the lighting. Maybe, it was Mr H’s presence. What if I don’t find the same design? Okay…. I will find it someday….but I really want it now….Maybe perfection lies in minor imperfections….
Next day, J says she is going to Mall “X” (where the “one with the spot” resides) to pick something up for her Mum. Mr H generously reminds her of her vow.
But I’m not going to the ground floor na, she responds.
She enters the store, hoping Mr Pot- Bellied Deathly Gaze is on leave or has a stomach bug and is in the loo….
Mrs Luck is not so kind on J though. His gaze is already on her, even before she spots him!
J sheepishly walks up to the counter. Her will to buy and possess RB 2140 supplants her feeling of embarrassment or shame.
She smiles and calls the man Uncle. He does not smile.
She asks for the glasses. He remembers exactly which one. Hands it over.
The warranty is still is in her name!
It’s like he knew….
Wait! The pot- belly, the glasses, ……. Was he the proverbial Santa!!!!!!!!
As J clutched her prized possession…. He almost seemed to have a half smile on his face…. Whoa!
J could well have been a proud owner of a diamond- encrusted, custom designed, extended wheel base Rolls- Royce Phantom with Johnny Depp as the complimentary chauffeur, that day! She was that delighted. Simple pleasures can sometimes summon incredible intensity!
J’s RB 2140 is now well-loved and well-worn. Will probably out-last her…
The harder you work to possess something, the more cherished it is.
Someday, she hopes to possess a collectors item- 1956 original, vintage “woodie” Wayfarer!
Till the next tale…