Can You See Me Now?

IMG_3814When I got up this morning I put on my cloak of invisibility: barely-60 face, short haircut, conservative skirt, t-shirt, no child at side. To complete my disguise, I jumped into my white Chevy Malibu and cruised down the street. Amazingly, I can go just about anywhere and not be remembered. I can walk around my town fully wholly incognito. At church, at the grocery store, on an airplane–I am the invisible woman.

Whereas I used to turn heads as I walked down the street or be the go-to person at church, now people stare right through me. At church, I might as well be a ghost. The 30 and 40-somethings look past me like I don’t exist. And the teenagers are worse: they actively avoid any eye contact or conversation. In the neighborhood, it’s pretty much the same story. No kids: no status.

It is a curiosity I never knew existed.  Why do people become invisible when their children move out? Do we purposely become invisible or is it some kind of cultural prank to pass over people older than 55? Is the rest of the culture trying to forget we exist—that pretty soon we’ll be sucking away all the reserves in the Social Security system and bleeding them dry to support Medicare? Or are we seen as irrelevant? Do not-yet-seniors sincerely believe that anyone born before 1962 cannot have a current thought or an interesting comment?

Do we middle agers need to throw tantrums to get noticed? No, we would just get committed to assisted living homes or sent to the psychiatrist.

Do we need to wear outrageous clothes? We are already accused of that.

Do we need to throw lavish parties? Dance in the street?

I discovered the secret to re-visibility in Sun Valley, Idaho:  get a dog and suddenly people notice you exist, or at least they notice your dog. Sun Valley is a place where there just might be a city ordinance requiring everyone to own a dog. I used to wonder if there was a connection between dogs and skiing, but now I think it is a connection between dogs and visibility. At the outdoor concerts in the summer, people spread out their picnics of canapés, caviar, and wine and the pampered poodle gets a Bow Wow Biscotti Dipidy Dawg treat. The next person over also has a dog so the two couples recount how they rescued their dogs from imminent death at the pound, spent all spring building a dog house complete with running water and a doggy monitor, and commiserate over the price of doggy daycare.

Since this discovery, I have been thinking about getting a sweet-natured golden retriever or a cute clever Papillon, but now I wonder if I really want to give up my inconspicuousness, which is starting to grow on me. After all, no one asks me to do the hard jobs at church, I can walk anonymously through my own neighborhood in the middle of the day, I can even go to a political rally and no one hits me up for a contribution.

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About Judy Grigg Hansen
I write poetry and nonfiction, and I am passionate about the people, places, and wildflowers of Idaho and the Northwest.

8 Responses to Can You See Me Now?

  1. jamescd says:

    That should have said enjoyed. My j key doesn’t work very well 🙂

  2. jamescd says:

    The strength of your writing can not be ignored 🙂 Enoyed your post.

  3. Jerry Knight says:

    Hi Judy, loved the writing and now better understand my Golden Years.
    Jerry

  4. Jeff Fox says:

    This is an amazing piece, Judy. There is a lot of truth in it, and Evin and I have experienced some of this too. This next chapter requires a different kind of reinvention, I have found, from the “known” forward-looking chapters that came before.

    Hang in there, my friend! Jeff

    Sent from my iPad

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