Whatever crimes have been committed by hipster fashion—the return of mom jeans, mustaches becoming lame again, the attempt to trick us into looking at art school graduates’ nutsacks—we are living in a golden age of nerdy glasses. I became nearsighted when I was nine years old. At that point, my glasses became a symbol of my genetic and social inadequacy for approximately the next two decades.
Two things changed all that. First, computer dorks invented the internet, thus making nerdo-centrism a fundamental aspect of American society. Second, I discovered the Shuron Optical company of Greensboro, North Carolina.
At this moment—and at pretty much every other moment when I can reasonably expect not to be punched in the face—I am wearing a pair of Shuron Ronsir Revelation prescription eyeglasses. They’re a slightly modernized version of the Ronsir Zyl, the glasses that Kevin Costner wore in JFK. You might also recognize them from Michael Douglas in Falling Down, Harry Crane on Mad Men, or anywhere else that costume designers need to quickly establish the character “square, potentially neurotic.” Oh yeah—also Malcolm X.
Go on—tell me this man doesn’t look good.
At the risk of forcing a parallel, I believe my Ronsir Revelations are an expression of nerd power. Best of all, I got them over the phone, in what was perhaps the most pleasant long-distance customer service experience of my life.
As near as I can tell, there are two guys working in the lab at Shuron. They make the glasses and they answer the calls, which means that if you have a problem you will either talk to the guy who’s going to fix it or hear him asking questions in the background. It’s a level of competence that’s downright quaint in the age of voice menus and overseas call centers.
The Shuron Sidewinder. Girlfriend with social anxiety disorder and an incredible LP collection not included.
I called in my prescription, and when they noticed that I had forgotten to give them a measurement they called me back that afternoon. Two days later, I received a box with three sets of differently-sized frames and a piece of red tape, which I was instructed to affix to the ones I liked best. A week after that, they sent me my glasses. They noticed from my address that I was in kind of a rough neighborhood, so they convinced the FedEx guy to hide the box under a bush in my back yard.
The whole thing cost me about 250 bucks, which is far less than what I would have paid for fashion eyewear anywhere but Lenscrafters. Best of all, I got a pair of glasses that are uncommon yet instantly recognizable. And I have the librarian phone numbers to prove it.
A pair of Shuron Macarthur sunglasses, which will hide your tears when you remember Goose.
If you didn’t warp your corneas reading Punisher comics as a child, Shuron also sells an array of classic sunglasses. They may be a little more expensive than what you get from the kiosk at the mall, but it’s worth it to spend all summer wearing something that your grandfather, your dad and your girlfriend will want to borrow.
Best of all, you’ll be participating in a minor institution in American fashion. The Shuron Optical company was there in 1961, and they’re still providing the same assured competence in 2010. For half the price of what the trust-funders at the Animal Collective show paid for their glasses, you can have an American classic delivered straight to your door. For the nerd, these are truly salad days.
Dan Brooks writes about politics, consumer culture and lying at Combat!