I am beginning to disappear. This probably started years ago, but I didn’t notice. That seems to be how this thing goes. The process is a slow one until it isn’t. One morning you wake up and you can see daylight pouring through your hands, and that’s when you realize that you are vanishing.
The earliest symptom of invisibility is advertising. Budweiser and the like don’t care whether invisible men buy their watery beer. They used to promise me one long party filled with friends, swimming pools, good times, and large-breasted women who can’t keep their hands off of a stud with a Bud, but they don’t bother with me anymore. Hollywood doesn’t, either. If I want to go see Futuristic Superhero Space Dystopia IV I’m allowed to buy a ticket, of course, but movies are no longer marketed to me. Invisible men can drink watery beer and watch cartoony movies, but they should never mistake such things as being manufactured for them.
Women can no longer see me. I can walk down the street in a crisp tuxedo or a wrinkled track suit covered in cat hair and the results will not differ. I am a ghost. Yes, and if my clothes are noticed for some strange reason, it’s only as objects of ridicule: dad jeans, dad sneakers. The only thing that would be more ridiculous than my current wardrobe would be a new one. Invisible men always miss the sartorial mark when they try to make themselves visible again: skinny jeans and shark tooth necklaces, awful shoes and youthful shirts stretched taut across middle-aged bellies.
I no longer have career options, but rather a countdown. Each working day I grow more translucent, until eventually I won’t be welcome in the marketplace at all anymore. Once I believed that I could do anything, that I could unlock the door to any career given time, effort, and education. Now I yam what I yam and that’s all that I’ll yever be.
My body is sending out its signals, too, the aches and pains and cautionary test results that come with the transition to invisibility. Pop culture might not market to me anymore, but the superfluous side of the health care industry certainly does. They offer countless, colorful pills to stave off invisibility: Take this one to grow hair and that one to lose fat; this one increases testosterone and that one gets you hard as granite. If I take them all, I will wear a sweater and walk along a sunset beach with a hot older woman. Some of these remedies are snake oil, others work but carry a list of side effects far worse than invisibility.
If I don’t want to scarf down handfuls of magical Skittles daily, a panoply of doctors eagerly await their chance to cut, suck, nip, tuck, freeze, stretch, laser, stain, bleach, and implant me back to visibility. Then I could look like a bipedal lizard wearing skinny jeans and a shark tooth necklace, overly bleached teeth burning the retinas of all who stare directly at them.
Aging in America is a joke where the punchline is the fool who grew older, but that’s not the punchline at all. What’s funny isn’t that I’m becoming obsolete and invisible, it’s that you are, too, and you don’t even know it. You believe that you will remain young forever, the golden boy who can become whatever he wants whenever he wants, but right now let’s just smoke a little weed and play some XBox. There’s plenty of time for all of that grown up stuff.
And so you sit and you play, and then one morning you look at your hands and you see daylight pouring through them and pop culture doesn’t care whether you are even there and the career doors have closed and the only reason that waitresses would ever smile at you is to work you for a tip.
I know you don’t believe me, kid, but that’s just how fast it happens, and you know what? It’s not so bad. In fact, it’s kind of a relief to be a vanishing man. Just wait, you’ll see.