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  • After reading Kiki's and Jon's beautiful meditations on the invisibility of one's elder years, I decided to repost my own thoughts on the subject...

    I have become one of those men young people don’t see. I still appear to children, to the middle-aged and the elderly. Those in their late teens and twenties, however, can only spot me if their jobs depend upon it, and once the transaction is over I’ll wink out of existence as quickly as any other customer. I wave to my neighbors’ nanny, and she goes about her business as if I weren’t there. The “good morning” I bid the smooth-faced men and women I pass on the street goes unacknowledged. I am not the victim of rudeness. I am invisible. You live your years, and then one unremarkable day you cross a certain boundary and no longer register on certain retinas.
    This is not an autumnal lament. In many ways, it’s liberating. I no longer have to suck in my gut when pretty women walk by. And who cares if much of my wardrobe comes from Target?

    I suppose I could become visible to young people if I wanted, at least temporarily. I could put on a general’s uniform or the oversized shoes and red nose of a clown and they might take notice. I could pull out a gun or strap on a bomb and their every heartbeat would dance in time to mine.
    They can’t hear me either, or I could take them aside by their firm arms and say, “Hey, listen, I’ve got some great stories. Did you know that I went through hoops of fire to avoid combat in Vietnam, only to be shot at and shelled twice on vacation? Did you know that the jovial guest at one of my dinner parties fled the country two days later after police found the body of his girlfriend stuffed in a trunk? Hey, don’t go away yet. I loved wisely and foolishly and I buried those loves and more people than I care to think about now. Hold on, let me try to speak to you about unspeakable beauty and bottomless fear. Do you like the old or the new Eric Clapton?”
    No. This is better. This is a dress rehearsal for that time when I’ll be invisible to every living thing, a reminder that the world will get along just fine without me. I did my share of selective seeing during my own youth. Now I’m content to show my face to those with eyes to see and spin my tales for those with ears to hear. There is more grace here than we deserve. But if, my Brother Ghosts and Sister Phantoms, my eyes stay on yours and my hand remains touching a bit longer than convention calls for, I know you’ll understand.

    (Photo by author)
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