Invisibility Cloak

[A draft monologue by Buddy from my novel-in-progress]

You know how people ask each other what super power they’d like to have?  A lot of people choose the ability to fly, or read minds or have super strength.  Some people think it’d be great to have the ability to be invisible.  I never wish for that one since I already have that super power.

I don’t mean I can make myself truly invisible, but it’s amazing how far you can get by pretending you are.   I mean, people don’t look right through me, or anything like that.  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.  After a few years of that, it isn’t pretending anymore.  At this point, I really don’t notice the stares, the pursed lips and the whispers that occur in my wake.  My lovers notice though.  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.  But I don’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.  I’ve made it a practice to go through life not noticing the funny looks, the disapproval and all that.  If I don’t notice that crap, it can’t ruin my day, right?

At least that’s how it’s worked up until recently.  See, I’ve become aware of a downside to this strategy.  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.  I’ve been carrying around my portable shield, concentrating on not being seen, and seeing no one else in the bargain.  There comes a time, at least it’s come for me, when being a lone wolf gets, well, lonely.  I actually like people, even though bad experiences have mostly driven me away from them.  For the longest time, I figured being on my own was the surest way to avoid pain and heartbreak.  And as far as that goes, it is.  On the other hand, I’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 don’t know.  I’m not sure I’m ready to fall in love again but maybe it’s time to reconnect with the world.  That invisibility cloak has turned me into a kind of ghost.  I move amongst the living but I’m not taking part in life.  Something happened today that really shook me up, made me question the way I shield myself from people.  It was a little thing, really, probably not something you’d make a big deal out of.  I was waiting in line at the grocery with my bachelor’s staples of beer, bread, eggs and chips.  The woman in front of me was chatting up the checker, which I usually find annoying because I don’t want there to be an expectation that I do the same.  My eyes were wandering as they do across the magazines and the candy displays and the other distractions, so I don’t have to notice the people around me, when I happened to look up right as the checker was looking at me.  The other shopper was still going at it, chatting about her family and people at the hair salon and the stuff she was buying.  The checker caught my eye, lifted an eyebrow and flicked her eyes in the direction of the other shopper.  I stifled a laugh, covering it with a cough.  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.  She smiled back and as she handed my bag to me, raised both her eyebrows slightly and said, simply, “Thank you.”

It wasn’t much, but it made my night.   I felt lighter and I whistled as I got into my truck and drove off.  I started wondering how much I’ve been missing by cloaking up every time I go out into the world.  Sure I haven’t had to know how many dirty looks I get, but I also haven’t noticed the appreciative ones I might be getting.  Makes me think perhaps it’s time to leave the cloak at home and see what I’ve been missing.

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