Cannon: With aging comes invisibility but it’s not all bad
By Ann Cannon
Tribune ColumnistFirst published Sep 03 2013 09:39AM
At first I was going to write about Miley Cyrus’ recent performance at the "Video Music Awards" ceremony. I wanted to ask why most of the outrage has been directed at her when there was, in fact, another performer (aka "Robin Thicke") on stage whose racy video directly inspired Cyrus’ notorious routine. Shouldn’t he be taking at least as much heat as she is? And while we’re at it, shouldn’t we be at least as interested in an ongoing conversation about what it means for girls and boys to grow up in a society saturated with sexual imagery as we are in the definition of "twerking"?
But then I came to the somewhat depressing conclusion that Cyrus’ VMA performance — which happened less than two weeks ago — is old news. In cyber-years it’s positively prehistoric. Yawn. Blah, blah, blah. Who cares anyway? Time to move on. Both Cyrus and Thicke got what they wanted, which was to be NOT invisible.
And that brings me to the opposite subject — i.e. BEING invisible.
Several middle-aged friends have asked me to write about an experience we’ve all had recently that goes like this.
There you are at a counter, waiting to be served. You’re happy to wait your turn because this is not some random country where "turns" go to the people who are the best at butting in line. This is America, where people wait their turn to be served. In America we do not approve of line-butters. In fact the only country on this planet that disapproves of line-butters more than America is England, where elderly Englishwomen will smack you with their purses until you fall to your knees and beg for mercy if you "jump the queue." Begging for mercy won’t do you any good, though. As far as they’re concerned, you’ve committed a cardinal sin.
(Moral? Do not mess with elderly Englishwomen carrying heavy purses.)
So yeah. In America you wait your turn. And yet you’ve begun to notice how everyone else seems to be served before you are these days.
The young mother in yoga pants to the left of you.
The guy in a business suit to the right of you.
The good-looking kid holding a skateboard behind you.
You ask yourself what’s happening. Why is everybody ignoring you? Do people think you’re just standing there at the counter, waiting to be served, because you couldn’t think of anything better to do with your day?
It’s like they can’t see you.
It’s like you’re fading away.
Is that what’s happening? You’re turning invisible? You didn’t used to be invisible. Hey, you were never Miley Cyrus (thank the Lord!), but at least people noticed when you walked through the door. Now they just look past you. Or through you. Is this what happens when you get older in America?
Maybe. Possibly. Probably.
But come on. "Invisible" isn’t all bad. Think of the conversations you’ll overhear when people think you’re not in the same room with them. Some of the conversations may even be about you! You can listen to everyone say, "Have you seen [your name] lately? Because I sure haven’t."
Best of all, when you go to the mall, those people handing out free kiosk samples will finally leave you alone because you’re invisible. How awesome is that?
(Memo to Robin and Miley regarding the subject of invisibility: Try it! We’d like it!)