A while ago my husband Mike told me he wanted to buy prescription sunglasses that resembled his best friend Doug’s non-prescription wrap-around 1960s-style black ones. Mike thinks Doug is cool, very cool. I could tell Mike had his heart set on purchasing wrap-around sunglasses for himself but
I stared at my husband thinking, “With your Super Glue-strong prescription and narrower face you will have a very tough time finding glasses that fit and that will work with your prescription, but you go, guy.”
I said, “Mike, go ahead and do your research then I’ll go to the store and help you decide which pair to buy.” After 30-plus years of shopping with my husband I had finally figured out an approach that makes him happy and saves my sanity: He works alone, at least at first. In the past Mike worked harder in Phase I to get the same results, but now he takes to the internet to do much of his research; he investigates all possible models of whatever it is he needs, often creating a spreadsheet to more easily show me the possible choices and the pros and cons of each. In Phase II he visits actual stores; he checks out the different styles, debates the merits of each with any and all available salespeople, then he leaves, empty-handed, returning home to ponder what he just learned. He will modify his spreadsheet to reflect newfound factoids and share them with me. This process can go on for days or months, depending on the cost of whatever he’s shopping for. Higher cost? More time spent in the research phase. Meanwhile, I stay home and do something more interesting, like pick cat hairs off my black coat, until such time as he’s ready to actually commit to a purchase.
My husband, cautious, frugal and a very deliberate decision maker, immediately did what I expected: He fired up his computer and took to the internet to research frame possibilities for himself. He figured out what size frame he needed, what size lenses (width and depth) he required for his lens prescription, and what manufacturers made the size frame he wanted. He spent hours, many hours on the endeavor. Then he showed me his internet-found frame selections.
“All good, I said. “But what store in Northern New Jersey sells these?
Mike stared at me, wordless, then he retreated to his computer to do more research. He made a list. He called stores in our area. He called stores out of our area. He visited small boutique eyeglass stores in our area to talk with salespeople. No one carried the frame selections he’d seen on the internet, but Mike, bless him, talked to a many salespeople trying to find a store where he could buy his wrap-around prescription sunglasses.
One evening a few days after one of his boutique eyeglass store forays, Mike told me he might buy the frames on line, then get someone local to make/insert the lenses. I wondered out loud if the stores around here would fit frames that he hadn’t purchased from them. He stared at me, wordless, then retreated to our home office.
Still wanting one of the “perfect-for-him” frames he saw on line, Mike returned an hour or so later and said that maybe he’d order the whole frame/lenses combination on line. I put down my magazine, looked at him and said, “Sure. Okay.”
Mike returned a short time later and said, “I can’t order on line; it won’t let me. I’m getting a message that says I can’t use those frames with my prescription.”
I stared at Mike, wordless, and he retreated to our home office to think.
A few days later Mike asked me to go to the eyeglass chain stores in our area to check out what frames they had in stock that might fit his face, prescription, and desire to have wrap-around sunglasses. Sensing an actual purchase was near, I said yes. Off we went . . . store after store. His combination of narrow face, Super Glue-strong prescription and desire to wear wrap-around sunglasses just didn’t work.
At the end of the day, Mike found a pair of sunglasses that he liked; they remind him of wrap-arounds, but they aren’t. That said, the frames flatter his face and work with his prescription. After more than two months of searching, researching, talking, debating and shopping, Mike had cool new black prescription sunglasses and I had a large glass of pinot grigio.