As some of you know, I have a knack for invisibility. For a while I suspected it might have something to do with a hoodie I wore while walking my dog.
Every morning I passed another woman walking her dog and I would say hello to no response. One morning our dogs decided to greet each other and as they sniffed and traded recipes and gossip about the Labradoodle two streets over, I looked her right in the eye and greeted her with my best attempt at neighborly cheerfulness.
She looked me right in the eye and said, ” . . . “.
That’s right: nothing.
I continued on, perplexed and worried that along with invisibility, I was becoming inaudible as well, not to mention the previously unconsidered concern that I was living among people who didn’t find it odd that a dog would be out walking himself in the morning.
My thought process was interrupted by the crash of not one but two birds, right into my chest. Boom. Boom again.
Flew right into me in rapid succession as if I were, well, invisible.
Some time later I began to notice that I was invisible even when I wasn’t wearing the hoodie.
One day while Christmas shopping, I was alone at the back of a discount home furnishings store when a woman approached and took the roll of wrapping paper I was looking at out of my hands, saying, “Is that black or green?”
I started to respond that while black would be an interesting, if avant-garde, choice for Christmas, it looked to me more of a deep hunter green that would be wonderfully complemented with a nice gold or deep burgundy, but she continued talking and I realized the question wasn’t for me.
Since at least one of us was of questionable sanity, I moved to the other side of the display, where I was similarly invisible to a man on his cell phone, who probably would not have continued his conversation on how to pull off a certain felonious enterprise had he known I was there.
That was when it occurred to me that invisibility wasn’t all about being overlooked by clerks and food servers. I could use this power for good or at least for personal entertainment.
I began to embrace my invisibility and learn to enjoy it. Here are some vacation pictures from my trip to the beach.
Here I am on my morning stroll . . .
. . . posing with Spiderman on the boardwalk . . .
. . . flying a kite (at the suggestion of others) . . .
Ethical concerns of invisibility
All in all I’m settling into my invisibility with ease. I’m a polite invisible person and I attempt to maintain the highest ethical standards. With great power comes great responsibility and all that.
I am beginning to wonder, though, if there isn’t some point at which I am within ethical bounds to step outside my invisibility and intervene in a situation.
I present for your consideration two recent conversations where I was present yet invisible to the participants. Should I have somehow made my presence known or would that have been a breach of invisibility ethics, akin to going against the Star Trek Prime Directive?
A group of teenagers were chatting the way teenagers will do, when one of them, completely out of the blue, wondered aloud, “What does ‘twice-removed’ mean? Like, when someone says you’re cousins twice-removed, what does that mean?”
A young man in the group didn’t skip a beat, not even to consult his iPhone, in his authoritative reply:
“It’s like, y’know, when, like, there’s a couple of divorces, and like you might be a cousin from one parent, but then they got divorced, so you’re not really cousins anymore.”
Here’s what I did:
I’m pretty sure that reply wasn’t accurate, but I don’t have an iPhone and I have no idea what that once-removed thing is. I suspect that it wasn’t invented by Jerry Springer.
A woman about my age, yet not quite as invisible, was having her hair shampoo’ed by the new young man at the salon. (I honestly don’t spend as much time there as my posts would suggest.)
In their friendly chat, he revealed that he was really a musician and this was just a side job. She inquired as to what type of musician. He replied that he was an R&B musician.
She asked, “R&B? What’s that?”
Gasp! At first I wondered if she were just being polite. Then a swoon of kindred spirit-hood swept over me as I considered the possibility that she was dabbling in sarcasm.
But, no, it eventually became clear that she was asking a serious question, when she genuinely wondered if the R and the B might stand for something, which was not the worst of it, because his reply was. . .
“Oh, they don’t stand for anything. It’s just R&B.”
Here’s what I did:
I minded my own business because if I didn’t block out the rest of that conversation, I might have had to hurt someone.
And I am an ethical invisible person. I do not hurt people.