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reading tiger

Further Notes on Being Invisible

Thank you all for your supportive comments on my last entry. But I feel like I may have used my big, well-developed writing muscles to oversell the first incident -- the "being invisible" one.

Because it happens all the time.

The incident was unusual only in its setting -- on a playground, among parents, at an event specifically designed as a meet-and-greet sort of thing. At the time, before I put two and two together with G. afterwards, I took it as a "well, I guess she doesn't want to open up this particular conversation, oh well" and moved on to more sociable sorts of folks.

Dudes. I am fat, unfeminine, and fortysomething. I dress in subdued casual clothing most of the time (except for some of those t-shirts, I know, that's another story) -- in other words, I do not telegraph my professional importance or social standing through my clothes. Thus I can be presumed -- correctly -- to be unimportant.

Some of this is quite deliberate on my part. And I am less invisible than I think I am, because I am also tall and wide and thus take up space and am just masculine enough to disconcert some people and provoke comradely recognition in others, if you know what I mean. (And then there are those t-shirts, doing their job on occasion as subcultural coding.) And also I am white.

But white men in particular? I might as well be in stealth mode. This isn't such a bad thing, most of the time.

I am also increasingly invisible to young people of many stripes. And, when I became a parent and started traveling around with children in tow, I became invisible to many queers...except queer parents.

So it wasn't all that unusual an experience, overall. I wouldn't even have mentioned it if it hadn't turned out she was the parent of the boy in the green shirt. Who also, I am afraid to say, wasn't all that far outside the norm in his behavior. He was a "boys will be boys" boy. These observations excuse neither of them -- but it would also be a mistake to pathologize them. It was all unfortunately too typical by half.

(Still don't enjoy the experience very much, though. Resigned yes, enjoy no.)