Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I officially don't exist ...

... if the opinions of the teenagers on my morning bus count.

This morning's commute was packed, and I had to sit waaayy at the back, where the trouble-makers sit and fight. It was strange. They didn't respond to my existence at all. They cared more about the middle-schoolers in the middle of the bus than about this 31-year old sitting right in the middle of their conversation.

They actually had to crane their heads to look around me. They didn't hassle me, they didn't complain that I was occupying their area - none of that. It was as if they didn't even realize I was there.

Which is a nice place to occupy, relative to the social world of adolescents. I was able to read my book - Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass, which I recommend - entirely unmolested.

I am certain my station in life has to do with my cosmic irrelevance to them. They have their teenaged dramas to work out, including hierarchies, sexual tension, racial tension (all of the kids in question are black at largely white high schools), and, of course, their coolness. They have to look good, but they only have to look good for people for whom it matters.

In my book I say that coolness is a performance, and that it requires a willing audience. I cannot possibly be a meaningful audience for these teenagers’ performance of cool, because I don’t overlap in their worlds at all.

So I was able to read two whole chapters.


At 7:39 PM, December 23, 2006, Blogger Denise said...

I wandered over from Byron's blog, to see what's cookin' in uncool-land!

I realized when I became a mom, late thirties, that I'd become invisible. People started calling me "Mrs." and "that lady," weirdest thing.

But yes, there is a power to irrelevance. I found myself seeking out senior citizens as friends, feeling closer to them, their speed, their lack of social consequence to the hipsters.

I'm looking forward to reading more.


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