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"Cool in the Shades"

05/16/2011 01:47 pm ET | Updated Jul 16, 2011

I have never been mistaken for Jack Nicholson, the eternally cool Hollywood legend who wears sunglasses everywhere -- even, I bet, in the bathroom -- but I can imagine starring in this dramatic scene with my wife, Sue.

Me: (yelling from the bathroom): "Hon, we're out of toilet paper!"

Sue: "There's a new roll on the vanity."

Me: "I can't see it."

Sue: "You're hopeless. And that's the truth."

Me: "You can't handle the truth!"

Sue: "The roll's right in front of you. Take off your sunglasses."

Me" (after removing shades): "Got it. Thanks."

Still, I felt like Jack recently when I went shopping for a new pair of shades. I wanted to look cool for the upcoming summer season, something I couldn't do in my previous sunglasses, which were old, scratched and misshapen. Then again, it could have been my head.

So I drove to a nearby mall and walked up to a kiosk store called the Sunglass Hut, where I was greeted by a very nice sales associate named Nicollette.

"May I help you?" she asked pleasantly.

"Yes," I replied. "I want to look cool. You know, like Jack Nicholson."

Possibly because she was about 20 years old, Nicollette didn't know Jack. But she did know sunglasses.

"What do you want them for?" she asked.

"This may sound crazy," I replied, "but I want them to keep the sun out of my eyes."

Nicollette patiently explained that some people wear sunglasses only for certain activities, such as driving. "If you want to wear them to the beach, don't get Guccis," Nicollette suggested.

"Why?" I inquired.

"You don't want sand to scratch them," Nicollette answered. "They're $300."

I gulped. Then I tried on a less expensive pair. "They're Pradas," Nicollette said.

"How much?"

"Two hundred and ninety dollars."

The devil wears Prada, so I thanked Nicollette and went around the corner to the NYS Collection kiosk, where Dan, a baby boomer who has heard of Jack Nicholson, told me that the sunglasses average $15 a pair.

"Will they make me look cool?" I asked.

"I think we can find a pair that will do the trick," said Dan, adding: "I haven't looked cool in 20 years."

Of course, he wasn't wearing sunglasses, but he has three pairs, all of which, he said, are fashionable.

"And inexpensive," said Dan, who used to work at the Sunglass Hut. "They're made of polycarbon, which is the same material in Guccis and Pradas. You're not paying for the name."

"Cool," I said.

As I reached for a pair, my arm hit a box that tumbled to the floor, spilling a stash of stylish shades.

"They're also very durable," Dan commented as he picked them up.

"So if I fall, my face might break but my sunglasses won't?" I wondered.

"Right," said Dan, adding that most guys buy sunglasses primarily to look cool. "One young guy was here recently with his girlfriend," he recalled. "Apparently he was paying too much attention to other women when he was trying on sunglasses. I guess he thought he was cool. He and his girlfriend got into a big fight and left. They came back the next day and the same thing happened, but I sold him a pair of shades before another fight started."

Though Sue wasn't with me, I didn't pay attention to any other women as I tried on several pairs of sunglasses. One pair, with bright yellow reflective lenses, made me look like a giant bug in one of those 1950s sci-fi movies.

Then Dan showed me wraparounds, one with a blue tint, the other gray. I was coolness personified.

"They're you," Dan said after I chose the grays.

At home, I showed Sue my new shades. Her one-word reaction: "Cool."

Just like Jack Nicholson. Now all I have to do is remember not to wear them in the bathroom.

Stamford Advocate columnist Jerry Zezima is the author of "Leave It to Boomer." Visit his blog at www.jerryzezima.blogspot.com. Email: JerryZ111@optonline.net.
Copyright 2011 by Jerry Zezima