I'm invisible. Even if you want to see me, you can't. I'm three-quarters gone and a one-quarter hanging on by my disappearing fingernails.
I'd first heard about this phenomenon from older women. Becoming invisible. Being in public without getting nary a glance.
I hadn't taken it seriously, given them their due or offered as much sympathy as I might have because I assumed it was their fault: Who gets old? Couldn't you just have held out, dug in and stood your ground?
I should have been taking notes. Listening. Offering solutions so I could learn if there was an antidote to the disappearing disease.
It is the answer to Hamlet's soliloquy "To be, or not to be."
The answer is not. Not now, not recently, not I can't remember the last time when.
I used to be the man. I stood tall in a crowd, especially if the rest of the people were shorter than I was. I had a voice like Fletcher Markle, the 1930s radio star.
When I realized I might be fading away, I tried to reinvent myself. I bought some snappy new workout clothes. Workout clothes I wear even when I'm not working out because I want people to think that all I do is work out.
I chose blue form-fitting workout shirts. Monika, my fashion consultant at Lululemon, told me that blue is my color. She said blue makes my eyes pop and when your eyes are popping so are your chances of staying visible and in the game.
Black clothing works too because it focuses and distracts. Focuses because it makes a statement; in my case, "I am a dangerous man." Distracts because if you have a blemish on your forehead, a barnacle on your ear or some other imperfection, which thankfully I don't have, black shifts the attention elsewhere.
I'd made it a point to watch the most current Netflix series including "Call My Agent" (It's in French with subtitles but who needs them?) and "Yellowstone," because all the cool, younger people like "Yellowstone." It's violent, heads roll but let's not be prudes about this sort of thing because being a prude ages you and you know what happens next.
I gave it everything I had. I bought, I watched, I read but it hasn't moved the needle like I thought it could. If anything, the needle might be spinning backwards and at an increasingly higher speed.
If a woman looks at me, it's only because I'm walking a dog and when your dog is a terrier/dachshund mix, it's not exactly a sidewalk showstopper.
Men look occasionally but mostly it's either with pity, amusement or curiosity. "Is that what happens? Is that what I have to look forward to? I might as well kill myself right now."
The bright side to becoming invisible is that you can move undetected among people. You're like a secret agent. You no longer have to worry about somebody liking you because they don't even see you. There is a lightness of being. You're like air with a blue, form-fitting shirt.
Recently we had a sleepover at the beach with our 4-year-old granddaughter, Lillian. For breakfast, we stopped at Little Joy Coffee and bought some chocolate old-fashioned doughnuts.
After finishing most of her doughnut, and carefully dividing the rest into bite-sized pieces, she said, "I wish Papa was my dad."
I may be becoming invisible but not to her. All it takes is an old-fashioned chocolate doughnut. A doughnut and somebody who throws common sense and caution to the wind.