Sometimes my kid asks me what superpower I’d want. He doesn’t know it, but I already have one – invisibility.
I didn’t used to be invisible. I was young and girl-next-door pretty and petite and I got the attention (positive and negative) you’d expect. Now that I’m older, apparently I’ve become less easy to see. I get bumped into on the sidewalk. Doors swing shut in front of me. I stand in the bank queue and wait to be seen.
I went into a consignment boutique the other day; it’s a nearby haunt and I’ve been there dozens of times. I spent 45 minutes searching the racks and as far as I can tell not a soul noticed me. Maybe they had a point – I used to buy things there, but I found myself thinking uncharitable thoughts about most of their stock, which was weird, and not in a good way. Dresses in hideous patterns and (for example) a striped, button-down shirt that was all Brooks Brothers in front and then, essentially, backless, with long straps that laced up. It’s like the stock was chosen based on how unwearable someone (like me?) would find it. But would anyone wear these things? It made me feel so odd, because I love clothes. Honestly, I would have been hard pressed to find a single outfit I could wear. The whole experience had just a hint of a bad-dream quality to it.
On the other hand…. I work downtown near the newly fancified commercial district — Hermes, Moncler, Louis Vuitton and the like. I’m close enough to browse on my lunch hour before I get bored and head off for a gelato. I may be invisible elsewhere, but the clerks in those shops seem plenty delighted to see me, dressed for work and sporting some decent jewelry and a nice bag. Hey, I may not be a Japanese tourist there to buy up the store, but I could probably afford something, based on appearances.
Has anyone watched Grace and Frankie? There’s that great scene where they go into a store and end up standing at the counter, invisible to the young male clerk who works there, and then he finally wanders over when a pretty young thing shows up. I feel their pain, although I’m a little too gimlet-eyed to be ignored for long if I need something. I will mad-dog you into noticing me. Ask any of my friends. It’s the eyes that give you away, right?
So do I want to be noticed or not? Both, I suppose, but I want to do the choosing about when. I don’t want someone else to make me invisible.