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  • I'm not sure when I first became irrelevant. Driving home from the beach this summer with my crew of twenty-something progeny, it registered that I wasn't getting much of their cultural references - television shows and music, predominately. My cultural references are a bit outdated - I am not on the pulse, although I still have a pulse.

    I remember my first awareness of my own invisibility. I was in my late thirties. I was sitting on a beach chair next to my much younger step-sister, who happened to be wearing an American flag bikini. I found it amusing when a man strolled by her and the poor guy's head whipped around. His body kept moving forward but his head was looking backwards. I really thought he might trip - he was lucky to be walking on even ground. Rebecca, the bikini babe, didn't even notice. It took the guy a good ten minutes of walking to think up something to say to her. Coming back towards us, his eyes locked on the American flag, he paused in front of our chairs and commented on her patriotism. Something to that effect. Really? That's the best you could come up with?

    However, much to my surprise, Rebecca was receptive. Sparkly already, she positively glowed now. I tried to interject something into the conversation they had begun. They both paused politely, then went back to flirting with each other. I took stock of myself. Maybe I should have sprung for a new bathing suit - ok, not the American flag, but at least one that hadn't begun to lose the elastic in the legs.

    I could have been stark naked and it wouldn't have mattered. I was invisible. Far from being upset, I found it fascinating, watching this mating dance like Jane Goodall watched the chimps. I began to see an advantage, particularly for a writer, in the cloak of invisibility. If it is your job to observe, what better way to do that then to be undetected.

    I have dropped off the radar screen and I feel a sense of liberation. I don't have to try to impress people. I can just be myself. Like Bert, I am still visible, most of the time, to my peers, dogs, and children. They see me. They take me as I am. Irrelevant, irreverent, peripheral, invisible and happy to be so.

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