From the musical Chicago (Kander & Ebb)
Shoulda been my name
'Cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me
And never know I'm there...
A friend of mine with white hair was dining in Highland Park recently with a dark-haired friend. The waiter ignored my older friend, speaking only to her younger companion.
She was angry: “I am often invisible, erased, clearly not relevant, since my hair turned, and yet I think of myself as valuable and worthy of respect.” She complained to the waiter, pointing out it was she who would be paying for the dinner, and also supplying the tip, so perhaps the waiter might think about acknowledging her existence. Is it true some women, past the stage of being considered objects of desire, are less visible, marginalized, or fair game for insult?
Gary, the homeless vet who lives at Veterans Park at York and Figueroa, was sitting on the bus bench with his radio, singing his heart out to the oldies he favors. I know he does not drink, helps keep the park clean (I live here!), thinks the Bible clearly disputes evolution, (How could all this beauty and complexity be accidental?) and has been known loudly to discourage drug deals at the park. A man waiting for the bus was standing away from the bench. I explained a little about Gary. He nodded, but did not move to sit on the bench.
In some cultures, direct eye contact is considered rude or aggressive, but here it is a requirement of civil intercourse. People unable or unwilling to do it are considered suspect. But it is different in public. I have invisibilized people, out of a disinclination to engage, or fear, or embarrassment. I have also been una desaparecida.
Have you cast the cloak of invisibility over someone?
When do you wrap it around yourself?
Have you been made to disappear when you think you are there?
When is it OK to pretend another person does not exist?
I would love to hear.