Allow you me this story. Apparently I don’t search hard or well enough. When my 12-year-old favorite pair of sunglasses broke at the frame just above the nose piece in 2000 I did what I thought was my best to seek out a place to get them fixed. I failed. Every place from Lenscrafters to the jewelry repair guy my mom swore by said “nope,” in part because they were just a pair of off-the-shelf frames I’d purchased during a mostly senseless spree at Needless Markup back in the summer of Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Eight. The so-called experts would look at the glasses, look at me, and tell me either it wasn’t possible or occasionally they’d say how much they’d need to overcharge me to maybe make it possible.
Facing an amount that was more than the shades cost new, at one point I even bought a soldering gun and sat there with the thing in one hand and the spool of metal in the other trying to convince myself I could somehow immediately acquire the skills required for such pinpoint detail work. Wisely I put down the gun and stepped away from that fiasco-in-waiting before I could entirely fubar them. Instead, I put them away where they lived with a sliver of hope in a series of drawers.
Why? Well the broken glasses became somewhat representative. I won’t bore you any more than I already have with the details of their symbolism other than to say they cracked at a time when a lot of other things broke — most of them intangible stuff like relationships and dreams, but all of them pretty much beyond repair. Suffice it that Y2K may not have fucked up my personal computer but it wreaked havoc on my personal life, and out of that annus horribillus these beloved glasses became one of the few things I could fix — or so I’d hoped. And hoped. And hoped.
And hoped. Fast-forward to this summer when it had been literally four or five years since I’d given the glasses a thought and Los Angeles magazine’s “Best of LA” issue arrived. Flipping through it I found a write-up extolling the miracle work done by a humble gent who goes by the name Paul Gross in his humble hole-in-the-wall on Wilson Avenue in the Jewel City and I thought my long-dormant prayers had been answered — except when I went hunting for the shades they weren’t a-n-y-w-h-e-r-e to be found and I became dejectedly sure it was because at some point a few years back I’d extinguished that flicker of hope kept burning for so long and pitched them in the trash.
Then came last Thursday when I dug into a cabinet looking for something else entirely. In the back behind a Polaroid camera and under some dead batteries and light bulbs was an old glasses case and inside (cue the angels singing) there they were. In my infinite wisdom I’d torn the page out of the magazine with the shop’s info, but of course I’d misplaced that, too. Thankfully instead of four months it only took me a few minutes to locate it on the LA magazine website. Gawd bless the internest.
Eagerly hustling over there the next afternoon, I told the proprietor my tale of woe and no and fruitless searching and he told me he’d been in business the whole time plus five years. I rolled my eyes and told him better late than never as I showed him the carnage. He took one look at them and shook his head. It wasn’t that he couldn’t fix them, he said, it was that owing to the fragile point of the break the repair wouldn’t be very strong. “It just wouldn’t be worth it.”
I asked him what he meant by “worth.” He looked at the decade-long dead things carefully. “Twenty-five dollars,” he said, except it came out a bit tentatively like it was inconceivable someone in their right mind would pay such an exorbitant sum.
I could’ve hugged him. “For sentimental value alone I’d pay triple that,” I said, and he nodded cautiously as he started writing up the work order. “When do you want to pick them up?” he asked, and I figured they might not be ready for days — maybe a week.
“Whenever you can have them finished,” I said. He looked at the clock, which read 3:55. “Be back in an hour,” he said, and my jaw dropped. I told him I had an errand to run at the Galleria and was on my way out the door.
I walked back in at 4:55 p.m. and he presented them to me, whole again for the first time in a decade. The solder work he’d done was almost imperceptible. “Try them on,” he said and I did. They were perfect. On several levels.
Epilogue: So, I beat the dead horse out of all that on the off chance you might be in need of knowing about Paul Gross, the Best Eyeglass Repairman Ever. Whether your story is as long and belabored as mine or you just have a pair of glasses you can’t bring yourself to toss in the garbage, chances are tremendously good that you can find quick and affordable repair and/or redemption at the following place:
Paul Gross Eyeglass Repair
805 E. Wilson Ave., Unit B
Glendale, CA 91206
Mon-Tue, Thu: 10 am – 7 pm
Fri-Sat: 10 am – 5 pm
(No website, but there’s a Yelp page)