In my early teens I spent lots of my weekends fishing with my grandpa. I thoroughly enjoyed these trips. My grandpa would pick me up around 6:30 in the morning, with the boat all ready to go. He would have packed a cooler with peanut butter, crackers, a can of Vienna sausages and a can of Coke.
On the way out of town we would stop by a bait shop and pick up two dozen minnows. We would head east towards Lake Lawtonka. At this stage of my life I was beginning to worry about my appearance.
When I started junior high, I was still stuck in childhood mode. I would get out of school and wander the creeks catching frogs, snakes, crawdads and turtles just for the sake of catching them. I would let them go after holding them and marveling at their beauty. I showered every two or three days and often wore the same clothes two or three days a week. My mom sat me down and told me I needed to up my game to get girls. She told me to start showering every morning and bought me some new clothes.
When I hit eight grade I spent a lot of time concerned about my “look”. I was dead set on catching the eye of Kristi Sutton. She was preppy, I became preppy. Wearing lots of Polo, Pumas and Levi’s 501 jeans. I would spend the mornings before school with lots of mirror and blow dryer time. I even had a hand held mirror so I could see how the back of my hair looked. I wanted to look good. I wanted to be popular. I wanted Kristi Sutton to look at me.
Every morning my grandpa and I went fishing, the sun would be in my eyes. He would open his gloves box that had 5 or 6 pairs of broken, out of style sunglasses and offer me a pair. I’m proud to say that I would take a pair and put them on, more concerned with comfort over vanity. There were times we’d pull up to a light and I’d look over at the next car with a pretty girl in it. I’d have on giant glasses with scratches and stains on them and one arm or whatever you call those things that go behind your ears. I would look at her without a care in the world what she thought about it. Proud even. I was with my grandpa, he was the coolest person I knew and we were about to catch a boatload of fish. Regardless of what the girl in the car next to me thought, me and my grandpa were the shit.
During this tour it occurred to me I am a lot like my grandpa in the way that I have 5 or 6 pairs of cheap, ugly sunglasses in my glove box that I put on when needed. It gave me great satisfaction to realize this as I headed to Oklahoma.
The next day, I took my daughter and grandson to the zoo. The sun was in our eyes and I offered her a pair of sunglasses from my glove box. She put them on and I smiled inside.