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Of Ray-Bans, Manicures, and Musky

Updated on May 15, 2016

Cheap Sunglasses

My most recent visit to Southern California dropped me back in South Central Wisconsin with a stronger than ever desire for a particular pair of good (read expensive) sunglasses I’d been coveting for a while. Now, I’ve been wearing cute (read cheap) sunglasses for years. Every now and then I get the Ray-Ban temptation but I have not succumbed since the early 90’s when I had and quickly lost a pair of Wayfarers. In recent years, among my favorites have been a big white-framed pair purchased in L.A. and an orange pair with green lenses found at a truck stop in Tucumcari, New Mexico on Route 66. When I wear them, Melissa Etheridge’s Sleep While I Drive plays in my head, even though the glasses in that song will be bought in Texas. (Her 1989 Brave and Crazy album, where this song can be found, has my strongest recommendation for that agonizing post break-up/getting over unrequited love period.) Anyway, I still have the white pair and I felt really bad about misplacing those orange glasses in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa but found them again the next day. You know this only works with glasses that cost $15 and under. Another reason I repeatedly deny myself the glasses that I lust after from time to time. History dictates that it just doesn’t work out.

80's Flashback

Anyway, about those sunglasses

While visiting Aunt Pat in Sacramento on the way out of California, I showed her the Clubmaster I was flirting with and she began to covet a pair, too. We found a deal and ran off to the mall to secure a pair for each of us, thereby getting the $40 off for buying 2 pair. We had it all worked out, except the style we wanted was not in stock. This ended up working out in my favor because when the cheap knock-offs I bought that day broke, I decided that 20+ years was long enough to punish myself for losing those Wayfarers. I started my campaign to find the best possible deal and ultimately possess the eyewear of my desire. In a feverish Internet search, during which I was whispering to myself, Jim asked what it was I wanted so badly. Next thing I knew, credit card points were tallied, one thing led to another and my Ray-Ban Clubmaster sunglasses arrived yesterday. As I tenderly placed them on my face, my concurrent thought with how good they felt was, “I need a manicure.”

I know that these days it’s not uncommon for girls to start getting professional manicures at 2 ½ but when I grew up all the women around me had their own little zippered manicure kits and tended their own nails – as do I. You know what, though? It’s just not the same. The last salon manicure I had was in California at about the same time I found myself obsessively cleaning my old sunglasses and holding them up to the sunlight to get a realistic take on their appearance. By then, the fantasized newer model was already tainting my feelings for the pair that had been fine until that moment. That last manicure gave me a kind of California confidence that lasted as long as the blush- hued polish, maybe a little longer.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Musky...

The sign by Wingra Dam
The sign by Wingra Dam

Delayed Gratification (if that)

Now that the musky have stopped running for the season, I have a little time freed up for things like manicures. This is another thing I want badly and for which I wait patiently – to see a musky make it over the Wingra Dam. Several hours of each of my last few springs have been spent in this pursuit. Yesterday, I donned my new sunglasses and left early for an appointment so I’d have time to stop at the dam and watch the action, or lack thereof, before walking along the creek to my destination. There were several of the big fish lingering and the water was about as high as it gets and the temperature was optimal for spawning. After the excitement of getting splashed by one failed attempt, I had to go but came back on the way home and saw two more failed attempts to make it over. After going home for a sandwich, I left Jim a note to pick me up at the dam to go grocery shopping. In that stop, 3 more jumped and fell right back on the side where they’d started. It was exhilarating! I said, as I always do to no one in particular, “I think today’s going to be the day”. We stopped one more time before the day was done. What’s the draw? I don’t fish. I have no particular interest in spawning habits in general. For a few weeks every spring, though, I am drawn to this spot where people come and go all day hoping to see the same thing: a muskellunge clear the dam and swim off into Lake Wingra, where no natural reproduction has ever been documented. They’re just responding to an urge that will not have any life altering results but, hey, I can relate to that. The run is over for this year but I’ll be back next spring willing those musky over the dam. Will my life be any different when I finally see a fish swim off into Lake Wingra? No more so than having fancy new sunglasses or getting a fresh manicure. They’re all just small things in the brief moments in between the minor falls and the major lifts of a life. Somehow, though, they do matter.


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