Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mister Cellophane

Mister Cellophane
Shoulda been my name
Mister Cellophane
'Cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me
And never know
I'm there...
--Mr. Cellophane, Chicago, the musical
Ever now and then I get these bouts of invisibility that are seriously exacerbated as I age. Last week I was meeting with my boss in her office when my cell phone rang. It was my boss’ admin calling to see why I wasn’t showing up for my meeting with my boss. I told her I was sitting right next to my boss in her office which was right across from her desk. She said, “Oh, I looked in and didn’t see you.”

I am invisible.

I think my gray hair is partially responsible. Or maybe it is the wrinkles around my eyes. Perhaps it is the spare tire around my waist. I stand in line for coffee and the 20-somethings behind the cash register look right through me to wait on the 20-something geeks who work for next door.

It does not bother me so much that I am invisible when I ride the train to and from work. Most everyone is invisible on public transit. And perhaps it is better that I am invisible as I sweat on the elliptical machine at the gym.

Still I wonder when my photograph began to fade. I think it was when I turned 40. I cringe when I think how transparent I will become when I hit 50 next year.

Perhaps invisibility is the reason many people start dressing eccentric chic as they age. Maybe that flash of color or odd hat will catch the attention of the visible world. I did see the old Asian woman in the plaza this morning doing Tai Chi with a Stihl Chainsaw cap on. But maybe I could see her because we were in the same invisible realm.

I suppose it isn’t just aging that makes people invisible. The mentally ill and the street people are invisible. I think that is why many of them shout out there presence. Ironically, the louder they shout, the more invisible they become.

Invisibility is funny that way.
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