I never know how or when it is going to happen. Some super heroes have powers that they can turn on and off by donning a spandex suit or hiding behind a colorful cape. Others have a magic wrist watch or armband that transforms them. For me, my invisibility happens without sign or omen. Over the years I’ve found that I can willfully disappear or skillfully appear if I spend all my energy and pay careful attention. But the moment I let my guard down, all hell breaks loose.
Let me give you an example of what invisibility looks like. I’ll be at a retail counter waiting to ask a question. Two other people step up and the clerk turns to the others and asks, “Can I help you?”
I clear my throat, “Ahem, I think I was here first.”
The others shoot a glaring look my way as the clerk turns to me and says, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t see you.”
Coincidence you might say? I used to think that, but I started charting the frequency of such occurrences and its five- to- one odds that I’ll be invisible to the naked eye unless I channel my energy and pay careful attention. A few nights ago, as my daughter said goodnight, she mapped out an elaborate plan for a sleepover for her and a friend. I asked why she waited to the last possible minute to ask me about it. She got that irritated teenage look and sighed heavily as she said, “We talked about it in the car.”
“Who is we?” I’ve quickly learned to ask the right questions. In this case the question is not when but who.
“Dad and me.”
“So how come you think I know anything about this?”
“Because Dad said it was OK. And he wouldn’t say so if he hadn’t talked with you.”
When I asked my husband about the plans, he said what all husbands say, “We talked about it. You just don’t remember.”
OK, questions for husbands are different than those for teenagers. This is the time to ask the when question.
“In the car.”
“I haven’t been in the car with you in over two weeks.”
“Well, that’s because you haven’t been around.”
Well, the last time I checked I’ve slept in my bed every night, sat down to a place at the dinner table, and acted as air traffic controller for the conflicting schedules of three busy people. The only explanation is that invisibility has once again taken over my personae. I swallowed hard and felt the spark of anger smolder behind my invisibility. Anger is a sure fire cure for a disappearing woman, but I don’t recommend the after effects.
Last night, my daughter was dancing as an alumni representative at her former middle school. She instructed me that I was not allowed to go. Parents weren’t invited.
“Are other parents going to be there?”
“Yes. But none of the other parents of my group are coming.”
“So? What’s the real reason you don’t want me there?” You have to be very crafty to weave in a why question, or you won’t get an answer.
“It will be embarrassing.”
I refused to agree not to show up. But, I convinced her that if I came I would do the following: I would pretend that I was someone else’s parent, I would not acknowledge her or look for her, and I would not congratulate her afterwards. I would be Invisible Girl. I’m good at that. I came late, sat in the back and hid behind the bright green printed program. At intermission, I felt a looming shadow in front of me. It was my daughter and one of her friends. With hands on her hips she asked, “What are you doing here?”
“Watching the show and being invisible.”
“I can see you.”
Darn, just when I think I’ve figured out how to turn this invisibility thing into an advantage, it refuses to cooperate. I put on my best smile and said, “Then maybe you should just stop looking.” At least she smiled back. Little did she know that I had just revealed the real secret of how I became Invisible Girl. People just stopped looking.