I’m not a vain person (at least I don’t think I am). I aim to strike a good balance; not spending inordinate amounts of time or money on my appearance. I don’t leave the house without first applying a bit of mascara and lipstick. My attire, though perhaps too heavy on the casual (read REI) and not enough high heels and dresses, is on-trend. I keep regular hair salon appointments and I’m in the gym at least four days a week fighting to keep the pounds at bay in these post-menopausal years.
Honestly folks, up until about five years ago, I considered myself a “moderately attractive” woman. I suppose I based this in part on being able to turn a head or two in my twenties, thirties and even into my forties. But on the heels of sixty, heads aren’t turning. I will admit here and now that, on occasion, it feels rather nice to turn a head…or two. Come on ladies…be honest…it feels good, right?! And yes…I am keenly aware that our existence is but a blip on the radar screen in this universe; lamenting on one’s fading looks is supremely frivolous given the insanity that is going on around the world. Still, it’s what’s in my head at this given minute….so there it is. I’m human.
So, it’s not surprising that I’ve been feeling mighty invisible lately. I might even go so far to say….irrelevant. I’ll opine on something– or share a feeling–and I may as well be talking to a brick wall. It could just be me, but I don’t think so. Rocket-man disagrees with my assessment but he is hardly objective when it comes to the subject of moi. He says I’m as beautiful as the day he met me and he does value my opinions.
Ahem…really? I say to the man who needs every light on in the house to read the newspaper. Clearly his vision isn’t what it used to be (nor of course is mine to be fair).
“My queen, this invisibility feeling is just your imagination,” he says as he dons a shirt that he absolutely knows I don’t like. I remain resolute in my feelings. Case in point, on this recent trip to Europe I didn’t get so much as a glance from man or woman. No chatty attempts during long flights nor train rides. Not half a wink nor even a hint of a body scan. You know what I’m talking about: that fraction of a second of eyeing a person up and down…checking out attire, hair, jewelry, gams… and well, everything. I got nothing.
Sigh. In 2008 when I was in Italy I turned a head and got one whistle. Or at least I think that whistle was for me. It could very well have been for my sister who was with me at the time. By the way, my sis is still turning heads today with her long blonde locks, beautiful blue eyes, and her porcelain-pretty skin.
So, I know why this feeling of being invisible is happening. It’s the age thing. It is not even the elephant-in-the room anymore. It’s a well-known phenomenon as we get older, from say our 50’s, on. We become invisible, and irrelevant, to the more youthful world around us. Naturally, it seems to hit women harder than men. For instance, today Mick Jagger is definitely not feeling invisible. He’s becoming a father for the eighth time at the age of 72! His girlfriend is 29. Someone should break the news to her. Her visibility days are numbered.
In an effort to keep this phenomenon from sending me over a cliff, I’ve been doing what I can as I get older to keep my mind from turning to mush. Though my Christmas card list is shrinking I am striving to maintain (and develop) connections. I consider myself fairly adept with keeping in tune with the times via social media and, even though I’m not employed, I get out of the house and out into the world everyday. In other words, though I struggle to maintain a state of grace with this aging thing, I am still doing what I can to make certain life adjustments, checking off as many boxes as possible to slow the inevitable….that fade into the deep, dark abyss.
So imagine my glee when not once but twice in the last month I’ve been on the receiving end of a split second of attention. The first time I had to look right and left and over my shoulder. Hmm. Is this person actually talking to me? And then it happened again, just yesterday, while standing in line at the grocery store, of all places.
What could be making me visible you ask? Well it isn’t my fading good looks. It’s my shoes.
Here I am standing in line with a basket of odds and ends for purchase when the fellow behind me taps me on my shoulder: “Cool shoes,” he says with a smile.
I fully turn to face the guy, a clean-cut young man who looks to be in his late twenties. I’m sure I had a very perplexed look on my face. “Oh…OK…thank-you,” I reply as I look down at my feet. “Um, they’re just regular old tennis shoes.”
He chuckles saying “Well, ma’am, you know they’re Vans. Vans are hipster-cool. They’re skater shoes.”
Ahh. Skater shoes. Clearly I’m not as nearly in-tune with the times as I thought I was.
“Well, obviously I’m not a skater-gal but I do like the casual vibe of these shoes,” I tell him. Pathetic as it may seem, his words made my day. I smiled from ear to ear as I floated back to my car.
Who says you need Manolo Blahniks to get noticed. Affordable, comfortable skater shoes made me visible! I think I need to make a beeline back to the store and deplete their stock of Vans. And while I am at it I’ll need to check my favorite on-line shoe source, Zappos.
A pair in every color! VAN-tastic! I’m feeling an extra pep in my step just thinking about it.