Saturday, February 02, 2008

Insecurities Exchange

It begins innocently enough. The teacher, who used to get comments on how young he looked, looks in the mirror and says, "How old am I?" He has honestly lost track. He calculates back to his birthdate, and realizes he is . . . thirty what? The mirror is tired of him. Without that youthful face, he realizes, people are more likely to notice his shortness. It's part of the hard-crust irony of his life that the Universe granted him Youth, but denied him height. Always a trade off, he notes, and wonders if, given the choice, he'd have chosen to be six foot something. He realizes in an instant that he'd now be staring at the tired reflection muttering, "If only I'd taken the Youth." But this is why the Universe is deaf to us. He reflects for a moment how he can't stand people commenting on his looks, or his height, or anything else. And yet here he is staring at himself.
The mirror is in the closet, and he can't help but notice the rows of neatly identical clothes, all designed, he now realizes, to attract attention and inspire comment. No, he says, denying it all. I simply want to look a certain way. He thought he had a sense of style. But at this particular moment of clarity he realizes that his clothes are the one thing upon which he can brook comment. Now he has to come to terms with the fact that everything he wears is in almost every way attributable to his conflicting advantages and deficiencies. Not simply a matter of superior aesthetics. He'd been hoping his style would become class when he became old. Now, teetering on the brink of it, it's unsettling to be even in the slightest way unsure of the transition.
But the only transition that seems to be occuring lately for the not-so-young, overdressed, undertall teacher involves the averting of his eyes, so as not to glimpse the definitively young, adequately tall, stylishly dressed females the universe has put around every corner to remind him of the cracks in the glossy veneer with which he polished over his inadequacies. No, not the UNDERaged females. From them he runs screaming, metaphorically speaking, at increasingly rapid intervals (every ten minutes and shrinking) throughout the course of a day spent teaching, as shirts get shorter, and pants sink lower, and girls (not women--GIRLS) become increasingly forward, (and froward too, he muses).
In essence, he wants everyone fawning all over him. And at the same time he'd rather they exhibit an understanding of his need to stop needing things. Merely ignoring him, strangely, is not doing the trick. So every give and every take is charged with this futile, conflicted energy. He jokes, and preens to be visible in a crowd of taller people, and wants wantonly, and cries out to be taken seriously, and wishes for invisibility, and wants desperately to stop wanting altogether. It all comes down to the stage-like exhibition of something purporting to be his self. The fourth wall is a membrane, thin enough to allow for a certain amount of biophilosophical exchange, but thick enough to leave one wondering if anyone on the other side is paying attention. Or why, if they are. Or if they should be. Within the four solid walls of a house, the answer is simpler. Until he caught his own eyes just now, and it became obvious that weather he should have been or not, he has NOT been paying attention.
Looking for something besides a blank stare, he, the only member of the audience at this point, only manages to wonder if a wry smile or a rueful shaking of the head would do the trick. The mirror--useless thing--never did have any answers.


Blogger pssst said...

You are beautiful from the inside out. Tallness is just a societal standard, but then again, so is youth. "Live in this world, but do not be a part of it" . . . I guess.

9:01 AM  

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