Sunday, December 7, 2008
The Invisible Woman
Shirley Knot is the invisible woman. She's middle-aged, pays the bills, keeps the household in check, runs errands, shops and cooks and cleans. She also entertains every Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, on birthdays and special occasions. thinks2much is her email name.
There are two questions that plague Shirley as she drives around doing what has to be done.
#1. Do I wear some kind of weird cloak that makes me invisible like in the children's fairy tale? And, is that cloak for my protection or to protect others from me?
#2. Did the pencil that was supposed to fill me in as I matured get turned upside down and erase me? Did I erase myself or did someone else rub me out?
Shirley Knot's lost in thought as she comes to a Stop sign and turns right. The flashing lights of a police car reflect in her rear view mirror. I guess I'm not invisible to him, Shirley thinks, pulling to the curb.
"Step out of your car," the officer orders in a God-like voice over the loud speaker. "Walk slowly toward the police car."
"Good Lord," Shirley says to no one but herself as she steps out of her car.
Shirley peers at the officer through his car window. He's really cute, rolls across her mind, followed by, he's young enough to be my son. The officer peers at her driver's license and then back at her. "You cut me off," he said. "I had to swerve to miss you."
"I'm so sorry, officer," Shirley says. "I don't know how I missed you, but I really didn't see you."
"You need to be more careful. It's important to be aware of what's going on around you," he said. "You could hurt someone, Shirley."
With the moving violation ticket on the seat beside her, Shirley looks at herself in the mirror on the sun visor, pulls out lipstick, puts it on, presses her lips together and smiles.
As she cruises back up the boulevard to Gelson's Market, the erasure question just won't go away. I used to be the center of attention at parties. I was the smartest girl in math class. That boy in high school said I had the best legs. When I walked down the street, workmen would whistle. I never needed a push-up bra, let alone breast augmentation.
I weigh the same, wear the same size jeans, spend a lot of money keeping my hair the same color, and thank goodness modern medicine has made it possible to erase most of the lines and wrinkles. I hate the birthmark on my earlobe. I don't care what anybody says. It is not sexy. It has to go. I'll write myself a note to make an appointment.
I used to write. I have a journalism degree. I wrote for a newspaper, worked at a financial publication, wrote a screenplay. Oh well, that was a long time ago. It's been ages since I read a good book. I always loved Washington Irving novellas.
Shirley can still hear her mother's comments. "Everybody thinks they can write. Be reasonable, do something that makes sense. You got your degree, all right, you are Mrs. Knot."
Shirley can hear her husband's comments. "You won't succeed if you do that. It takes too much effort. You can't balance the kids and housekeeping, let alone, working too."
Surely not, Shirley Knot thought. Surely they were wrong. I don't want to be written off.
And that's the truth. To some extent.