My Invisibility Cloak

It is so comic to hear oneself called old, even at ninety I suppose!” Alice James

When I had attention I didn’t appreciate it.  I remember complaining at the way men stared.  I especially resented the standard, “Hey, sweetie”.  I bristled at pet names from strangers and sometimes got mouthy when I was referred to as “Hon”.

Of course, that changed.  An invisibility cloak  became part of my wardrobe at a “certain” age.  It matched everything.  It was always with me.   Well, perhaps not when I visited my 95-year-old stepmother at the rehabilitation center.  Some men there were old enough and still well enough to look up and see me.    But my cloak was a basic.  I never left home without it.

Interestingly, even after  I donned the cloak I could look in the mirror and say, “Not so bad”.  I thought I was looking pretty damn good.  I realize now, tho, that the addendum had always to be (for my age).  I didn’t see heads turning unless I was walking with my daughters.  I just didn’t warrant male admiration or even notice.

My invisibility became a comfort to my husband when I traveled.  Since men have to be frail and using a cane to go unnoticed,  he didn’t quite believe it at first.  We would do experiments on the street.  “See”, I would say as men looked over my head and across the street, “there’s a built-in radar that knows women have lived through their 40s and 50s.  It skips right over them without a blip.”

That used to insult me.

Well, be careful what you wish for.   I’m back on the radar now because my hair is white.   I’m “Hon” again.  But this time around I get offers to help with my bags.  When I stumble over the curb there isn’t even a hint of a snicker;  everyone clusters around me.  “Are you SURE you’re okay?”

Funny how we change.  I would love to have my invisibility cloak again.    Maybe I only appreciate attention when I don’t get it.


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