[A draft monologue by Buddy from my novel-in-progress]
You know how people ask each other what super power theyâ€™d like to have? Â A lot of people choose the ability to fly, or read minds or have super strength. Â Some people think itâ€™d be great to have the ability to be invisible. Â I never wish for that one since I already have that super power.
I donâ€™t mean I can make myself truly invisible, but itâ€™s amazing how far you can get by pretending you are. Â Â I mean, people donâ€™t look right through me, or anything like that. Â But, over the years, I’ve learned how to create a kind of invisibility cloak around myself that makes me harder to see.
One of the ways I invoke my invisibility is to pretend to not see the way people look at me. Â After a few years of that, it isn’t pretending anymore. Â At this point, I really don’t notice the stares, the pursed lips and the whispers that occur in my wake. Â My lovers notice though. Â When we’re walking down the sidewalk together, holding hands or leaning in close to share a secret, they can see other people seeing us, they can feel the disapproving looks, they still have that ability to see the way people react to me. Â But I donâ€™t anymore, at least not most of the time.
So I guess what I’ve got isn’t so much an invisibility cloak for myself, but a way to render others less visible. Â I’ve made it a practice to go through life not noticing the funny looks, the disapproval and all that. Â If I don’t notice that crap, it can’t ruin my day, right?
At least thatâ€™s how itâ€™s worked up until recently. Â See, I’ve become aware of a downside to this strategy. Â It’s good that I don’t see all the hate, confusion and disapproval aimed at my butch self, but I also don’t see the interest, honest curiosity and approval. Â I’ve been carrying around my portable shield, concentrating on not being seen, and seeing no one else in the bargain. Â There comes a time, at least itâ€™s come for me, when being a lone wolf gets, well, lonely. Â I actually like people, even though bad experiences have mostly driven me away from them. Â For the longest time, I figured being on my own was the surest way to avoid pain and heartbreak. Â And as far as that goes, it is. Â On the other hand, Iâ€™m getting tired of dinners for one and that stab of loneliness that strikes when my friends fall in love and I see them less and less.
I donâ€™t know. Â Iâ€™m not sure Iâ€™m ready to fall in love again but maybe itâ€™s time to reconnect with the world. Â That invisibility cloak has turned me into a kind of ghost. Â I move amongst the living but Iâ€™m not taking part in life. Â Something happened today that really shook me up, made me question the way I shield myself from people. Â It was a little thing, really, probably not something youâ€™d make a big deal out of. Â I was waiting in line at the grocery with my bachelor’s staples of beer, bread, eggs and chips. Â The woman in front of me was chatting up the checker, which I usually find annoying because I donâ€™t want there to be an expectation that I do the same. Â My eyes were wandering as they do across the magazines and the candy displays and the other distractions, so I donâ€™t have to notice the people around me, when I happened to look up right as the checker was looking at me. Â The other shopper was still going at it, chatting about her family and people at the hair salon and the stuff she was buying. Â The checker caught my eye, lifted an eyebrow and flicked her eyes in the direction of the other shopper. Â I stifled a laugh, covering it with a cough. Â It was the smallest thing, but I knew instantly she felt the same way about all that talkin’.
When it was my turn, I looked her in the eye and smiled, but didn’t attempt to chat her up. Â She smiled back and as she handed my bag to me, raised both her eyebrows slightly and said, simply, â€œThank you.â€
It wasn’t much, but it made my night. Â Â I felt lighter and I whistled as I got into my truck and drove off. Â I started wondering how much I’ve been missing by cloaking up every time I go out into the world. Â Sure I havenâ€™t had to know how many dirty looks I get, but I also havenâ€™t noticed the appreciative ones I might be getting. Â Makes me think perhaps itâ€™s time to leave the cloak at home and see what I’ve been missing.
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