No disaster


It’s not hard, we know, but I still think that my mastery of the art of losing is uniquely impressive.  Whenever I buy or am given any big-ticket item, I lose or break it almost immediately.  With rare exceptions, any big expenditure on my part turns out to be a mistake or a waste, usually for reasons I couldn’t have forseen.  Some recent examples:

*That $98 menorah?  Shattered into a million pieces before the congealed wax from the last night of Hanukkah was even dry.  (I’d left it perched precariously on the edge of the radiator.)

*I just spent $700, a scarily high % of my current net worth, on fancy-pants author glamorshots which my publisher is just not that into — a mercy, but an expensive one.

*The lovely Mac on which I type this needed $800/worth of non-warranty-covered repairs a mere 6 weeks after I bought it, because I stuck it in the same bag as a leaky water-bottle as I napped in a flu-addled daze in the Amsterdam airport circa last New Year’s.

*A few weeks before that happened, I lost the first and only expensive item of jewelry I’ve ever owned — perfect, tiny 12-gauge Lori Leven gold hoop earrings — somewhere in the Pacific ocean.

Less-expensive items aren’t spared, either: I shudder to think of how much money I’ve spent on gloves so far this winter.  Which reminds me:  my perfect blue hat, the one the designer doesn’t make anymore, the one I got compliments on every time I wore it — well, it is hiding out in the lost-things dimension too,  having a party with the earrings and all those gloves and several metric tons of hair-ties.

I don’t think I’m more-than-usually irresponsible.  Well, certainly I’m a little irresponsible, but it’s hard to develop responsible tendencies when things just don’t seem to want to be mine.  I could get philosophical  and adopt the belief the universe is trying to teach me non-attachment, or I could get anarchist and adopt the belief that all property is theft.  Mostly, though, I choose a path of least resistance: trying, consciously and not,  to avoid ever having anything nice, because of the high likelihood that any nice thing I own will get lost or destroyed.

All of that is a long way of saying that I avoid owning designer sunglasses, even though I’ve always wanted them — specifically Ray-Ban Wayfarers, which unfailingly make everyone who wears them look like expensive celebrities.  A few weeks before the holidays I was looking online for things to suggest that my Mom buy me for Hanukkah and I decided to find out whether these sunglasses were too expensive to ask for as a present.  (They are.)  But then I got the bright idea to see if there were any used or vintage ones on Ebay for cheaper.  There were!  There were $25 ones.  The seller was in China.  They were almost certainly fake, I reasoned, but the outside chance that they weren’t seemed worth $25, and also, there was an option that I could Buy them Now, and the seller accepted PayPal, so the entire endeavor took about 2 minutes.   Perhaps I ought to add “money in general” to the list of things I am not good at hanging on to.

They came in the mail yesterday.


They came in a Ray-Ban box, with a Ray-Ban case and a little pamphlet about their provenance (from Ray-Ban! In Italy!) in a bunch of different languages.  A plastic medallion dangled from the bridge of the sunglasses from a red-and-white string; I dimly remembered seeing something similar in a store once.  The sheer surplus of packaging alone made the glasses seem like a real luxury item. But something — well, some things — seemed off.  The case was stiff.  It didn’t seem to be real leather.   The glasses felt wrong, too — there was something strange about weight of the plastic, the more-pronounced ostentation of the logo.  But if they were fake, why go to so much effort to replicate the manufacturer’s packaging?  The knowing buyer of a counterfeit object isn’t looking for the trappings of the real item, probably,  just that the item itself be convincing enough that he or she will be able to pass it off to his or her friends as real in terms of aesthetic value and the status that the object conveys.

I decided that I was overanalyzing the glasses in a college way.  If I thought about it any harder, I was going to have to get into “what is real,” and I was running late.  They said Ray Ban on them; they were sunglasses; how much realer did I need them to be?

I put them on and rode my bike down Dekalb.  It was midday and I was heading West, so the sun would have been blinding if I hadn’t been wearing shades.  I locked up my bike at Flatbush, put the glasses in my pocket and got on the train.  When I came back to Brooklyn, around 10, it was dark and I didn’t need them, so they remained stashed in my pocket, but I patted myself to make sure they were still there.  I had managed to make it through a day without losing them.

This morning I was tidying up the kitchen and noticed the packaging sitting in my salad bowl.  I picked up the case and peered closer at the gold seal on its lefthand side.

“100% UV Proteltion,” it read.

I am very happy to own these glasses now.  They’re worthless, so I know I’ll never lose them.

26 comments to No disaster

  • Oh girl, I just ruined a pair of phenomenally expensive jeans that look terrific of me with a HUGE grease stain because I have the eating/spending habits of a toddler.

  • emily

    Dawn dish detergent. Did you already try it? It works usually. Or shampoo.

  • justin

    I just agree with this in so many ways.

  • The Wayfarer made its first appearance in 1952. It has its own Wikipedia entry.

    I also have the death touch for nice stuff (just lost a treasured overcoat that actually made me look skinny by turning my back on it for a second in a Dunkin’ Donuts in the city), but as I get older I’m trying to become more of a collector of experiences than of things anyway, so perhaps the universe was sending me a message.

    It certainly seemed to be doing so when my house burned to the ground a couple of years ago, jump-starting the process.

    And it really broke the spell. I highly recommend it!

  • It frightens me that phones and laptops get more mini each month; anything smaller than my hand goes right through me.
    And what if I get engaged and/or married? I’ll need the rings tatooed on, and it won’t be for style, but for practicality.

    I’m rubber, not glue.

  • AHHH It’s kind of working.
    I’m like Lady MacBeth over here.

  • Rebecca A

    I remember worrying that I would lose my baby somewhere. Then, someone from Ireland knitted us a special blanket in a special, old school way only people from Ireland know about—old school people from Ireland, you know? And I was in a cool coffee shop in Huntington NY with my 2 week old baby, and it was early September, and I picked him up (the baby) and left the blanket on the baby seat for like, ONE MINUTE with my back turned, and BAM, someone took the blanket.

    In some ways, that realy freaked me out. In other ways, though, I figured that if I was going to lose the baby, that would’ve been the time.

    Anyway, he is 13 now…sometimes I WISH he’d get lost!

  • emily

    @ Rebecca A, that is such a great story.

    Today I was all ready to be like UPDATE: I lost them but then I realized they were on top of my head.

  • Tim

    I am just like you when it comes to losing/damaging technology. I think it has something to do with being raised in the Western developed world and knowing that all of our electronic accouterments are easily affordable and replaceable. Hopefully you will outgrow this tendency to neglect expensive things when and if you are ever able to afford a car in New York.

  • Mattical

    I bought a pair of real Ray Ban Wayfarers a few years back, and they looked great… for about a month. Then for some reason the temple frame on the one side started warping, and eventually they didn’t sit right on my face. I was going back and forth between how maybe I needed to take better care of them (though they were being handled like crown jewels) and, “sunglasses this expensive should be BUILT TO LAST! wtf.” For a minute I was even thinking maybe my head shape is warped, thus warping the frames? Couldn’t possibly be the glasses, must be something wrong with me! Now I just buy the $5 bobos on St. Marks that possess about 90% Wayfarer DNA (sans logo).

  • redo

    Andy Rooney had an interesting piece on 60 Minutes last Sunday about why he never throws his superannuated old and broken appliances away. “I’ve had five electric razors in my life, I still have all five of them, but only one still works,” he said. “I can’t bring myself to throw the other four away because – even though they are mostly useless – I feel they are too good for the dump.” The same goes for Rooney’s old typewriters, telephones, TV’s and vacuum cleaners. “We used to have repair people who specialized in fixing everyday household appliances,” he said gazing into the past. “In the old days, if your vacuum cleaner began rattling, you paid $30 to have it fixed instead of buying a whole new one like people do today.” The nonagenarian ended his piece with the lament: “I don’t know what will eventually become of my personal heaps of useless and antiquated technologies. I suppose it will be up to someone hapless person to sort out my mess after I die.”

    At 91, Rooney is quite comfortable admiting that he of all people is superannuated too.

  • joe. tiki

    At first I read this post and didn’t think much of it other than the fact that Emily is saying she is irresponsible and loses expensive things. Then I considered that she mentions Ray Bans throughout, and my mind conjured up images of Bay Watch babes jogging across the beaches of Southern California in sexy one-piece bathing suits. In a day when so many females are desperately trying to look like coke-addled party girls by sporting the enormous shades a la Jackie Onasis, I’m surprised I missed the point that Emily is trying to start a new trend with this post. Good job, Emily!

    If early-nineties trends start popping up again, however, I will back out a huge sh*t if I start seeing jocks wearing those backwards-upside-down sun visors. If that happens, we will know where to find the culprit who started the whole 90’s revival thing with her Ray Ban post.

    (Speaking of nineties trends, I have a pair of Eddie Bauer sunglasses that I never wear because they look small on my face making my head look fat.)

  • ow a paper cut

    Anyone living in New York City needs all the proteltion they can get

  • your case is spiffier, in fact, than the one that came with my via-sunglass-hut wayfarers; said case wasn’t even trying to look like real leather, and it cracked and split all over the place in, like, a month. the microclimate in my messenger bag destroys most things in a month, but yr proteltion sounds like a good value, is my point.

  • emily

    Right? I have been really enjoying them, actually — though I haven’t been using the case. That is beyond me.

  • It’s so good to know I’m not alone in breaking stuff.

  • It took me awhile to comment on this post because it dredged up some really painful and repressed feelings about how I have lost or broken everything of value I’ve ever owned. On my 22nd birthday (not even 21st!) I somehow managed to lose my nicest pair of diamond earrings AND my nicest long flapper-style pearl necklace which had been like, major “this is a life investment” gifts from the parentals. That I lost all these items at the same time led me to believe that I must have taken them off and carefully stashed them somewhere, and that someday when we moved out of our house, I would find them in some crawl space above the fridge or something. We moved out of our house like 3 years later and the jewelry remains lost to the void. My only solace is that maybe someday a young girl will discover them buried in a floorboard and it will move her to write an award-winning iTablet series about the life and times of the drunk and irresponsible girl who once had nice things but didn’t deserve them.

  • emily

    lol re: “award-winning iTablet series.” But anyone who has multiple pairs of diamond earrings among which one pair is the “nicest” gets an eensy bit less sympathy from me, I gotta say.

  • Oh, there were never any additional pairs of diamond earrings! Just lots of poor grammar. Please calibrate your sympathies accordingly!

  • emily

    Haha, ok, it is recalibrated.

  • I know what this is going to sound like … like I’m a parade-rainer or a fear monger. But I read somewhere once that while cheap sunglasses are fine, knock-off sunglasses can be dangerous for your peepers because the knock-off artist may not be putting UV coating of any stripe on there … or just a little of one kind … which does two things: the darkness of the shades opens your irises further; those open irises let in MORE UV rays.
    Then, years later, you’re moving to Jersey to get medical weed for your bad eyes.

    Of course, this sort of “science” could be bought and paid for by the expensive sunglasses of the world lobby.

  • emily

    Ha, oh god, I had suspected something like that might be the case. I will rush out and buy a pair of fancy ones. (Well, maybe.) Sheesh.

    Also, hi Ken! I have your book! I got a little swamped! I am about to go on vacation and will bring it :)

  • Jenn

    I just bought a pair of Ray Ban 3025 from and they are perfect and I saved $50.

  • Kevin

    I can relate to losing nice things. I couldn’t quite justify spending $300 on one of the early video iPods, so my two sons and I each put in $100 and shared one. Worked fine until it fell into the toilet. Only in there for about 1 second, but water got inside and apparently damaged the hard drive (they can make a $30 Timex water-resistant, but not an iPod?). It would have cost almost as much as a new one, so I paid my two sons back their $100 (ouch!) and now I had nothing to show for it …

  • katia

    Girl!!!!!!!!!!!! I just bought the same pair of fake effing glasses, but unlike you, I paid 100 bucks por this. Now the seller is claiming me to pay 30 extra bucks in order to return my money on Paypal. Dunno what to do. PS, i found your page when I typed “100% Uv proteltion” – maybe someone out there noticed that too.

  • emily

    @katia, Omg, that sucks! But I am loving that you found my blog by googling that term. It sure beats all the people who find it every day by googling “nostril fuck” which I do not recall ever writing about and also, wow.

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