There used to be a principal at our local middle school ("junior high" in some parts of the country) who coined the phrase, "You're not invisible." It became a joke with all the young teens because he would say it repeatedly with every school announcement, at every school assembly, and at every opportunity he had. He started this after the Columbine tragedy. I believe his intentions were positive. He wanted to make every student feel they were important, and noticed, regardless of their social clique at school.
So they wouldn't come blow up the school.
The kids hated it, of course. The number of "invisible" jokes they came up with staggered the mind. In addition, the teens all said this particular administrator was a "perv" and before long the jokes ran along the lines of the Invisible Pervert. Most of us know how kids are at the ages of 12-14, and it isn't ever always nice and/or respectful. The kid rumors ran the gamut but basically said Mr. Principal spent way too much time with the attractive girls at the school. Other kids noticed and many were telling their parents, "What? Does the Perv think he's invisible? We can all see how he acts with the girls!"
I doubt if the man really was a perv because surely a teacher would have reported it if he was. (? "Mom logic" or denial ?) However, I told TR I was writing about him today and her response was, "That guy was a creep and a perv." She hasn't seen him in seven years and her opinion still seems strong and sure.
Yesterday a girlfriend of mine told me she is invisible. The resignation, sadness, and grief in her eyes showed as she said it. The words, "You're not invisible," were out of my mouth faster than you can say Perverted Principal. I was going to write something funny and light today, but I can't shake her words. I am haunted by them now, hours later. I am stymied by my inability to prove to her that she is, in fact, the exact opposite of invisible. She is vibrant.
I will call my friend Sue. Sue is someone I met around nine months ago at physical therapy. Like all the patients there, she has some health issues. She has come and gone a few times, and is currently back at PT. I am in my forties. She is older than me, I would guess in her late sixties. Sue looks better than most women do in their early fifties though. I really mean that, she looks great. She exudes energy, and joy, and her laughter fills the place every time she is there. She has a fantastic sense of humor.
Selfishly, I admit, it is easier for me to go to PT when I know she'll be there. We laugh together. We give the technicians and The Torturer a hard time. She is my partner in crime. We are a comedy team. Or so we think. The Torturer repeatedly tells the secretaries to stop scheduling us at the same time because he "can't take it" when we're together. He doesn't mean it. He sees the smiles on our faces and we make him smile too. It makes everything easier when Sue is there.
Sue has been one of my biggest cheerleaders. No matter what she has gone through, she is constantly checking on me, my progress, and cheering me on. She watched me go through some of my roughest days. She actually went up and scolded The Torturer once when I was going through the worst of it. Sue was irate. She told him he'd "better not" make me cry "one more time" because she was DONE watching him hurt me. How's that for a friend? The Torturer looked shocked that he was being angrily chewed out by a patient on my behalf. The memory makes me smile to this day. I think that is the day we officially became friends.
Sue feels invisible.
She says you get "to an age" and no one even sees you anymore. At all. She was referring to life in general, but we also talked specifics. She's not married and she said it would be nice "just to have a companion." She thinks all the men are looking for young hard-bodies. She said men don't even see her in front of them. She laughed and said, of course, she is looking at all the young hard-body men too. She's particularly fond of men with nice asses. (Who isn't?) In addition, "Give me someone pre-prostate problems," she said. Yeah, she's nearly seventy and she wants a man who can deliver like a 30 year old in the bedroom.
Do you see why I love her?
Sue and I also discussed how hard it is for a woman her age to get hired by anyone. I mentioned my concern about getting back in the work force. Who will hire me with one working arm? (The answer is no one.) She countered by saying employers find all sorts of reasons not to hire her. "They're afraid I'll drop dead on the spot," she said. She meant it. Her disability runs out in a few months and she's afraid she'll never find another job. Her fear is real.
Before we parted for the day, Sue was urging me to live my life to it's fullest. The unspoken was, "before it's too late and you're invisible too." She is one of the most alive, vibrant, funny people I know. She carries a huge presence everywhere she goes. She feels invisible. I just can't get over it.