Lady Bug

Lady Bug 142339 phone pic 11 1 2015

I saw Teddy Roosevelt wearing white patent-leather loafers and a big grin, standing on the street corner passing out religious pamphlets. The sign he wielded damned the select those of us to Hell for not seeing things his way. At least he’s not a shouter like the other guy who is usually doing his version of damning on this very same corner. At first, I thought he saw me, but thankfully, my power of invisibility worked for once, he didn’t give me a second look as I walked on by.

Or I might not have fit the demographic he’s looking to save—I’m fifty-something, not twenty-something, my clothes, although pretty are more concealing than revealing. Gravity is a bitch.

The distant sound of a sax told anyone listening that the busker is working another part of the street, which made me smile. I tossed a dollar into his can. Ya gotta eat. He’s not playing Carnegie Hall, and probably never will, but he’s doing what he loves—sometimes that’s what matters.

I didn’t see the chain smoking lady who regularly begs for bus money. She needs to change up her story, we all see through her. She’s invisible without much effort these days—I’m not certain she knows it.

I heard that the old dude in the wheelchair had died—we always saw each other—he saw everybodywe all acknowledged him. “Hello there pretty lady—have a nice day!” He’d call out to all the women. No matter if we put change in his rattling coffee can, he was always pleasant. I miss him. There’s a hole in his regular spot. I avoid it; acknowledge it with reverence.

All things considered, no one’s hurting anybody.

It’s Noontime—a nice day in May—I’m feeling good.

I stood in line waiting for what I wanted when a girl standing next to me sneezed. To be polite, I blessed her. Then seconds later, she jumped nearly a mile and made a noise of disgust. Holy crap, what is it? Jumpy. Now on my guard because she made me twitch too, I thought I’d have to peel her off the ceiling, then on the counter between us, I saw a wee ladybug—she opened her wings and flew away home, cuz her house is on fire, her children are alone. I said, “Aww, it’s only a lady bug, no worries.” Cheerful—not all bugs are bad—it could’ve been worse. The skittish girl ignored me, focusing on her phone instead. I get it. She’s trying to be invisible too. Now I’m the crazy old lady who talks to strangers. I’ll go back to being invisible until it’s my turn to order something for lunch.

It’s a thing I do—being invisible—it’s what I do to get by—to get thru—to get where I’m going without trouble. It’s not reliable. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Not everything is reliable—I’m older now—wiser. Fragile.

Dang, I’m hungry. Smiling, I give my order.

Leaving with my lunch to-go, I walked back the way I came, weaving through the sidewalk life, avoiding being seen, stepped on, or bumped into. My eye snagged the searching gaze of an unsavory type lingering in a doorway, he started to beeline toward me—I must look like I’ve got something he wants—I fit his demographic—I look like a soft touch who will listen to his tale of woe. “Excuse me, Ma’am, Ma’am?” he calls out. Damn, really? I don’t need his shit today. Well, I know my hair ain’t on fire, my dress hasn’t blown up over my head, and I don’t have Godzilla breathing down my neck, so I’m good—and I don’t answer to Ma’am. I scowled, narrowing my gaze behind my sunglass shields—so much for being invisible.

After shaking off the shake down creep with practiced grace, I finally lost him—if he was even following me at all; I never bothered to look back. Looking back can get you killed or lose the race. You choose. In the distance, I heard his voice calling out “Excuse me, Ma’am, Ma’am?” He’s connecting with someone else who he thinks has what he wants—a demographic, soft touch. I go forward—I don’t want my lunch to get too cold. I’m more focused, watchful, trying to be invisible, now expecting to see Teddy Roosevelt in the next few strides, and felt nearly sad that he packed up his big grin, white patent-leather loafers, and pamphlets, and left the corner for me to travel through unscathed.

All things considered, no one’s hurting anybody.

It’s Noontime—a nice day in May—and I’m feeling good.

Lady Bug, LJWR 6/22/2015