Now you see me…no, you don’t

Photo: Fred Lopez

Can anybody out there see me?

This is clearly the age of the superhero. We’ve got Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, the Silver Surfer, Batman, Iron Man, and a zillion or so others. Worldwide, boys and girls idolize superheroes and wish fervently for superpowers of their own.

Trust me, kiddies, having a superpower isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I have a superpower and I hate it. You don’t want my superpower.

I’m invisible.

It became apparent when I was a little kid that I could be sitting in a room and no one else would have the slightest idea that I was there.

My invisibility first appeared one afternoon when I was plopped down in front of a flickering, black-and-white TV and watching a show called “Romper Room.” It was a pure product of the 1950s. The hostess, Miss Nancy, would greet all the boys and girls and we’d say the Pledge of Allegiance. A fat bumblebee named Mr. Do-Bee would tell us how to be good little boys and girls.

The highlight of “Romper Room”—and when I had my epiphany about being invisible—came near the end of the show when Miss Nancy brought out her magic mirror. We kiddies could see her on the TV screen, and when she looked into her mirror, she could see us. It made good sense at the time.

Miss Nancy would look in her mirror and say, “Romper, stomper, bomper boo. Tell me, tell me, tell me, do. Magic Mirror, tell me today, did all my friends have fun at play?” She’d then name all the kids she saw. She saw Billie and Susie and Tommy and Mary and Frankie and Linda. She even saw kids named Ignatz and Heathcliff once.

But did she ever see Freddie? No, never, not a single time. At first, I thought Miss Nancy hated me. Or maybe she was biased against chubby kids with glasses. I finally figured out why she couldn’t see me. I was invisible.

My invisibility wasn’t confined to “Romper Room.” When I went to real school, I would disappear now and then. On the rare occasion when I actually knew the answer to a question, I’d wave my hand frantically in the air and murmur, “Me, me, me.” Teacher would look around the room, oblivious to me and my flailing hand, and say, “Anyone? Anyone?” But she couldn’t see me. I was invisible.

The same scenario repeated itself when I grew up and went out into the mean, cruel world of working for a living. At staff meetings, the boss would ask for opinions on the latest project. I was full of bright, witty, and incisive thoughts on how to develop the whatever-it-was that we did. Again, I’d wave my hand for recognition and hopefully whisper, “Me, me, me.” Predictably, the boss would call on that brown-nosing twit who sat next to me. I was getting used to being invisible.

After retiring from work and moving away from ice and snow, I was certain that my invisibility would go away. I was wrong. Invisibility strikes when I take our dog, Paris (full name, Paris Hilton, and yes, that’s her you see in the photo), out for a walk. Paris is a little long in the tooth but she’s still kind of a hottie. She’d be a cougar if dogs could do that. She’s much better looking than the human, much richer Paris Hilton and our Paris has never made any steamy videos—at least none that I know of.

When I walk Paris, others see nothing but air at the non-dog end of the leash. They ooh and aah over Paris, pat her on the head, look right through me and walk away. Paris can see me just fine. She thinks the whole thing is funny.

There is one place where invisibility strikes 100 percent of the time. When I go there, I know I’ll quickly become invisible. It’s probably happened to you, too. There’s something about restaurants that breeds invisibility.

Usually, you’re visible when you first enter the restaurant and you stay that way until you’re seated at a table. Then, poof, you’re gone. Waiters can’t see you. They have the remarkable ability to look straight at you and see nothing but whatever’s behind you. Most waiters wouldn’t see you if your hair was on fire.

Sitting at the bar is just as bad. Even though the bartender is only two feet away, he still manages to not see you in your invisible stage. You’re so thirsty that you feel like the guy in the old Westerns who is crawling through the desert sand with an empty canteen and two arrows in his back.

There is no cure for invisibility. So when you leave, don’t say, “See you later.” Because I know you won’t.