By: Matt Gordon
Today I learned how to disappear. It was pretty amazing really—one second I was at the lunch table which I had arrived at early, and the next VAMOOSH! gone. Totally gone! It was all so simple too. I always thought invisibility would be such a complicated, even painful to-do. Nope, not the case. All it took was holding my cell phone slightly raised from the table and tilting my head at a gentle angle toward it. That’s it! Some people might have thought I was checking my social media. Others assumed I was glancing through scores from last night’s baseball action (or inaction, depending on your sensibilities). Likely no one thought I was assessing my investments and how my stocks were performing—I mean, look at me. And maybe they weren’t even thinking of me in much detail at all. After all, that is usually the case.
But all of them considered me occupied, and that, dear reader, was their grave mistake. For at some subtle point, they ceased seeing me altogether.
So while they were busy not thinking at all about me and let me vanish altogether away, I was thinking of nothing but them, using the phone as a well-trod pathway into pure and blissful stealth. I listened freely to the conversations of uninhibited neighboring patrons, jumping my attention from one table to the next as one flips channels on a television. The jaded businessmen to my left were sick of some woman named “Connie” being forcibly unyielding with her ideas, yet unsure and sensitive behind closed doors—“You can be a badass or you can be a sissy, but you can’t be both,” one of them, wrongly, groused.
Some nearby women were discussing alcohol. Yep, alcohol. They were wild about it, discussing this drink and that drink and what they would have at some house party they were planning. Boy, did they love alcohol. I wanted to buy them a round of something—anything!—but that would out me. I nestled into my cloak of invisibility, and continued to wait for my friend to arrive.
Even my server, who, up to that point, had wished to meet my every need with unrivaled constancy, would whoosh back and forth past my table with nary a glance at my mysteriously-emptying water glass.
I decided to employ this tactic of disappearance later when my companion and I were leaving the restaurant. Inside we said goodbye, and then shuffled through the unending restaurant clumsily together. Outside, we said yet another awkward goodbye, and then, for good measure, we said another one. You know how that goes, right?
“Well, thanks for meeting me. It was great.” A hand extends. Again.
Another takes it and gyrates up and down. Again. “Yeah, thanks for making time. I’ll see you soon.”
That should be it. The plane landed, the rocket launched, the door locked, the deed done—just you walk away, I walk away; that is all that remains. Except . . .
“Hey, you ought to consider coming to that event next Friday.”
He looks back—yes, he had turned to walk away by this point—confused because credits had clearly rolled.
“You know the one I mentioned inside,” you press on because you are, you know, a buffoon.
He doesn’t know the event I mentioned inside at first because it was mentioned nearly an hour ago in a context that now is firmly constituted by the distinction: A Previous Encounter.
“Oh, yeah!” It comes to him. Thank goodness! “Sure, um, yeah . . .”
“I’ll send you the details.”
“Yeah, send me the details.”
“Well, thanks for meeting me. It was great.”
Déjà vu all over again.
After the gaggle of goodbyes, I strode confidently onward to the crosswalk in a manner that I hoped would hide my utter lack of confidence—stride had definitely been broken by this point, so it seemed right to compensate by sauntering along like Clint Eastwood.
My companion decided not to go to the crosswalk—likely because he feared I’d say goodbye again. No, he jay-walked to his car which happened to be parked directly behind my own.
I couldn’t stomach another awkward goodbye (not after lunch and all), nor did I want to be viewed, Eastwood gait aside, as a rule-follower who needs a light to tell me where and when I can and can’t go.
No, instead I chose invisibility. I whipped my phone out and gazed into it like it had some pressing information that couldn’t possibly wait. “What your Highness? I’ll be right there!”
But no, nothing like that was on the screen. I had received neither call nor text. It didn’t matter, as long as my posture stayed fix, I was Sméagol in ring: I stroked my phone and its provision with a whispered, “My precious.”
I crossed the street and continued faking my fake business. My acquaintance pulled away from his spot and, gloriously, my car. I sneaked a look up. He was on his phone, so luckily neither of us could see the other. We, there in plain sight, perfectly invisible.