No One’s Studying You
The cabbie gives me the once over.
“You a doctor?” he asks.
“I’m a writer,” I say.
“I thought you were a doctor,” he insists. “You got the hair, the glasses, the dress.”
For the rest of my time in New Orleans, I wear patterned hose and flapper dresses and red pointed cowboy boots and a tight black tee-shirt with my Elvis medal pinned front and center.
Doctor, my ass
The woman wanders into the common area where we are deep in play. The man strikes up a conversation as we linger on the sidewalk. The maitre de stops us on the way out of the restaurant.
Each time, they say, “Your child.”
“Grandchild,” I correct.
“Oh. I thought he was your child.”
Which makes me wanna holler, “Are you looking at me? Are you looking at this child? He’s two years old!”
Holy cheese on a cracker, these people don’t have the observational skills God gave a duck.
On the way to a cross making workshop in Greenville, Mississippi, I insist we stop at a roadside store so I can buy a black, orange, and neon yellow jumpsuit because I spied the jumpsuit on a sidewalk mannequin and loved it, but I did not intend to be wearing it—the jumpsuit has a halter neck, it would be at home in a 1970s sitcom, it’s the type of outfit people look at in a sidewise manner, cutting their eyes to sneak a peek—when I meet my new neighbor.
Guess he’ll get used to it.
I wear a loose white tee beneath a black sweater, and the man wants to know if I’m a priest. I squat in my blue shirt in Wal-Mart, and the guy asks what aisle the spark plugs are on. I wiggle into an elongating all-black outfit, and the woman says, “Are you a model?” I jangle my funky bracelet, and the guy assumes I’m an artist.
I am not.
Not a priest or Wal-Mart employee or model (okay, I showed clothes for a while) or an artist (unless you count wordsmithing.)
And yet I continue to believe I am able to control the impression I make. In fact, I believe I can use what I wear to dictate what you think of me. I tell myself that if I put together just the right combination of clothing you will think me creative or interesting—but not too far out there—or someone who can put together clothes in just the right combination.
Delusional, at best.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an author talk to give, and I must look the part.
here’s to creative synthesis . . .