Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Invisible Woman

I am invisible.  It’s true.  If you’ve never met me, or met me only casually, if you encounter me as one of a thousand faces in a crowd, mine is the one you won’t remember, mine the profile you couldn’t identify in a line-up, mine the visage apparently dreamt of by spy novelists when they describe the nondescript, the crowd-forgettable character no one can remember having seen after the crime is committed.   The Nondescript Character Trope

Friends laugh and deny until they travel with me into new environs.  Loved ones shake their heads until they’re watching me be jostled and stepped on in a crowd that parts like the proverbial face-off between Moses and the Red Sea before them.  Colleagues disbelieve until we stand together meeting an acquaintance who recognizes them yet does not even see me standing at their side.

Seattle Mariners catcher Dan Williams,
often not recognized by people who
have met him, including huge fans!
I am invisible.  Back in the law-practice days, it could be a handy trait turned to quick advantage against the unwary opponent who discounted me because of that forgettability factor.  And in my college days, it was a downright blessing when it came to classes I’d just as soon skip as attend, for I was never missed.

And once we’ve spent time together, you will remember me.  That’s something.

Most of the time, as with all other human conditions and oddities, I navigate around the invisibility factor in my life, making myself memorable if the occasion seems to warrant and otherwise simply accepting that you will not remember an encounter that I will.  Or I take it as an object lesson for me, to really see others, really hear them, really notice them.

But some days, I forget how forgettable I am.  And in the forgetting of this wall-blending attribute, I am caught unawares and wounded, as I literally watch someone not see me, not notice me notice them, not register my existence.

Being invisible makes for good spies, waiters, and even pastors, disappearing that The Word not be obscured.

But every now and again, it would be nice to be noticed, to be seen and be remembered, by a stranger.  It would be nice not to have my feet crushed whenever I travel into a group or a crowd.  Every now and then.


  1. Just another reason we're soul mates Beth. I'm doing a lot of work just now for the National church and encountering folk I've known for years who don't remember having met me - simply because I was obscured for a long time by a much louder colleague. It IS wounding and yet, sometimes, I use and cherish that invisibility. And, occasionally its nice to see a dawning of recognition as folk discover that I do have substance - if I choose to give them another chance to see it! Perverse? Hell, yes! x

  2. Oh yeah! Harry Potter & his Cloak of Invisibility have nothing on us, my gal!