I Am Invisible

By Melinda VanLone | Photos

Mar 19

Two skirts and a blouse, just part of the "one thing" I bought.

This past weekend my husband and I went to see a movie (21 Jump Street, surprisingly entertaining). This particular movie theater is attached to one of those outlet “Mills” malls, and I managed to talk him into shopping after the movie. Just for a minute. I just wanted to pop into one store and get one specific thing.

His eyes narrowed suspiciously on the “one thing” part, but he agreed to spend a few minutes shopping. We head into the mall with an actual destination in mind and made a bee-line for it.

Or we tried to.

To say the mall was packed is to sell the situation far short of reality. People filled the hallways and stores in numbers that defied capacity limitations. An amazing thing happens to me in situations like this.

I become invisible. 

It would be a fantastic talent if I could turn it on and off when I wanted. Unfortunately, it only seems to spawn when I’m in crowded malls or the grocery store.

We strode through a store which spans the center of the mall in an effort to take a short cut to our destination. This particular store is filled with people under 21, their parents, strollers, rack upon rack of clothing, and harassed salespeople. I tried my best to stay in the limited open areas.

First, a stroller ran over my toe. That could happen to anyone, right? Then a woman raises her arm to excitedly point at a clearance rack and rams my nose with her elbow. Coincidence, I’m sure.

By the time I got through this store to the other side of the mall, I’d been hit by two strollers, three different women and four small children. All of them ricocheted off me and continued on their way, oblivious to the damage they’d cause and unaware that they’d struck anything.

Once out in the center of the mall, I set my shoulders and dove into the stream of people heading to the left, my husband single file behind me. I was going to Old Navy, which was only a few stores away.

Apparently so was everyone else.

I wove my way in between people like a salmon swimming upstream (cliche, I know, but that’s what it felt like). When I finally found a bit of open space, I breathed a sigh of relief and slowed a bit. That’s when I saw her. She was a rather large woman, using two shopping bags as punctuation marks for the conversation she maintained with a friend as she strolled. She looked right at me, so I assumed she saw me, too.

You know what assume means.

When she was five feet away and obviously not slowing down, I braced myself for impact, and shifted to the right a bit, in order to avoid her. Her blank stare followed me, as did the rest of her body. Two feet away, I dodged left. She tilted her head to listen to her friend speak, drifted in my direction and rammed into me with such force my husband had to catch me. Did she see me? Of course not, I’m invisible! I wonder what went through her mind as she rebounded off me. She probably wondered how the air had suddenly become so solid and cushy. I think she muttered something as she continued on her way.

After that, my husband walked in front of me to act as a blocker.

Once in Old Navy, I was pelted from all sides by people who were obviously taken in by my transparent nature. I was accosted by two more strollers, several women grabbing for sales racks, and one wheelchair. At least the person in the wheelchair said “oh dear, we hit you” after the fact. I imagine her superpowers include  x-ray vision. She was the only one who even noticed me. The two men who shoved me out of the way to get to the front of the line at the register certainly didn’t.

I’d blame it on the fact that I’m short, and therefore underneath the average person’s eye level, except for one thing. At the Irish Festival a few weeks ago I sat on a concrete bench to enjoy my lunch. A few moments later, a man intent on doing the same thing sat on me. He didn’t see me until his butt actually made contact with my lap, at which point he sprung up looking stunned, muttered something I can only imagine was an apology, and wandered off. Since he was looking for a place to sit I must infer that he looked down to find his seat. And yet his derrière made contact with me anyway.

Imagine what I could do with this incredible ability I’ve fostered. I could sit in high level meetings for corporate espionage, or find out the latest scandal before it even hits the tabloids. I bet the government will be contacting me any day now. They’ll want to hire me as a spy.

As for the shopping, I ended the trip after the trek to Old Navy. Invisibility is exhausting!

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