Samuel Foster is actually the person behind the Foster Grant brand of mass produced sunglasses. He developed the sunglasses in 1929. I thought you would want to know. Now you do. If you think about that year in history you might ascribe to my theory. Throughout my sunglasses wearing life, I have always had this belief that when I wear sunglasses, no one actually knows who I am. I am neither a celebrity or a spy, or particularly cool, but when I see someone I recognize (and whose name I actually remember in the moment), I remove my sunglasses and reveal my face. This is because I think that with the sunglasses on, no one would know who I am. I would be mysterious and at times invisible. Celebrity and potential spy, and obviously, very, very cool.
I imagined myself to be a spy when I was a child. I created spy codes and wrote letters in lemon juice and practiced eating paper, just in case I got caught with the secrets. I even thought that if I could figure out how to become miniature size (like the eraser on a pencil) that I could be a secret weapon for the government. I imagined going to far away places with a boy who I liked (but who was clueless about my unrequited affection) and we would be tiny, nanospies. Of course, today, I realize that it might have been my way of handling being one of the short kids. I would collect provisions to use when my sister and I would situate ourselves on the other side of the wall outside the kitchen and listen to the conversations that my parents and neighbors would have while they played bridge. We spied on them and put glasses up against the wall (although the door was wide open). We (mostly me) would put a note on a string, fling it about two feet into the kitchen, and state our demands. Actually they were pretty cool about it and they would put what we wanted (cookies or crackers or the like), into a brown bag, attach it to the string and we would reel it in. We learned very interesting things about spades trumping hearts and that someone was deliberately the dummy. We usually then went to bed, because their code outdid our code every time. Putting a string and two cans together out the window, to create a telephone between the fifth floor and fourth floor, was my friend and my attempt to have walkie talkies. I think another person who lived in the apartment building looked up and ratted us out and someone cut the string, which was okay ,because we could never figure out how that was actually supposed to work. After that, we found that if we chewed enough Bazooka bubble gum and kept the wrappers, we could collect enough (probably about 1,000) to get a free walkie talkie set for only shipping and handling. We stopped at about 75 because even at a penny a piece, it would have taken us several years to gather up the money, and I had a problem with not swallowing the gum. The irony was that her little sister, asked for a walkie talkie set for her next birthday and she got it, no gum involved.
Being a shy kid, I utilized my imagination to fill in the quiet moments and create a sense of importance for myself. There are always invisible people around us. In my work, I use my spy skills from childhood to listen and see the invisible. I like to think that understanding the vulnerability of children and adolescents as well as adults who haven’t found their voice or their place, allows them to come out of the shadows of their struggles. When I wear my sunglasses, I think I am in disguise. Perhaps there are moments when I wish I could disappear behind them and avoid some of the interactions we often tried to hide from. And then of course, there are the times, when I take them off, because I am quite happy to show my face and smile at you, and hope that you recognize me.
Let’s hope this week is a good one. Please go out and vote. It always matters.