Sunday, October 23, 2005

Cap'n Cellophane

So far I've talked several times about my "outsider complex", but have yet to really delve into one of the contributing factors, what I have often called the "Invisible Man" syndrome. I don't know quite what it is, but there is a tendency for people to overlook me. I've lost count of many times I've been in a situation where everyone around me gets acknowledged in some way, while I get ignored, or how often I'm the last to know some information because everyone was sure someone must have told me. Somehow, I slip their minds, blend into the background, get lost in the shuffle. In my more fanciful moments, I have conjectured that I project some sort of “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for”-style field; fall within my range, and you’ll never know what hit you, what with the forgetting I exist and all.

Quick, read the rest before you forget how to!

When I was younger, this phenomenon was a source of great consternation; I could be sitting in a room filled with people, and every single one of them would be asked "do you want to do such-and-such," but somehow I would get left out. And as part of my "don't want to go where I'm not wanted" stance, I would never speak up, but instead just sit there and stew in my ridiculously self-pitying "nobody wants me around" juices. The first person I can remember admitting this to was Dr. G'ovich, who informed me (in the nicest possible way) that I was being an idiot, and that, for the record, I was to consider myself included as a general rule; also, if I was butting in where I wasn't wanted, he would have no compunctions letting me know about it. Of course, this only helped in about a quarter of the Invisible Man situations, but it was still a nice gesture.

A more recent example of the IM field occurred after my recent appointment to a committee at work. I found out that I had been volunteered about 4 hours before my first meeting; when I got there, I received a copy of the minutes from the previous meeting. Glancing them over, I noticed that one of the items listed was the introduction of a new team member, so I fully expected that there would be a similar introduction done for me; 30 minutes later, the meeting was adjourned, and my presence had not been acknowledged at all past the "Hi, did you find parking ok?" greeting I got from the Chair when I first walked in. Two weeks later when an email went out to the committee members to remind us that there was no meeting that week, it also included a welcome for the latest addition to the committee; three guesses who it wasn't. That's right, my blog monkeys, the new member before me: introduced in the meeting; the new member after me: welcomed in an email; the new member who was me: might as well not exist. My reaction to this: laughing non-stop for about 5 minutes after I got the email.

You see, nowadays the results of the syndrome don't automatically cause me consternation or mental anguish; more often than not they generate amusement instead. It's taken a lot of time and energy to get myself to this point, and there will probably still be situations where being the only one left out of the loop will bum me out; nobody likes feeling ignored. But for the most part, I've come to accept this odd phenomenon for what it is: an odd phenomenon, and not a sign that I'm unworthy, unwanted, and/or unloved.

I was discussing the phenomenon with Cap'n Cluck and Cap'n Disaster on our way to the State Fair yesterday, and Cap'n D. commented that it reminded her of the song "Cellophane" from Chicago. Then this morning, after Sunday School, Smooth Money's Girl started asking people about their lunch plans: first the guests, then Cap'n Cluck, then the Lightbulbs, then the newly-nicknamed Bruiser, and so on, until finally she had (you guessed it) asked every single person in the room except me. Trying very hard not to explode in gales of laughter, I casually walked over to Cap'n Cluck and told her I'd just had another Cellophane experience, at which she burst out laughing and ran to tell Smooth Money's Girl that she had forgotten somebody. SMG had a rationalization for why she didn't think to ask me, but it didn't really matter; I knew she was just the latest to fall prey to my Cellophane aura. The only real problem with the situation was that I had the song stuck in my head all through lunch:
Cap'n Cellophane
Should have been my name
Cap'n Cellophane
'Cause you can walk right by me
Look right through me
And never know I'm there


CAP'N Disaster said...

I'm sorry...were you saying something? who are you again?

Catullus said...

Most of us have their own buttons that are hyper-sensitive to being ‘pushed’. Often when this happens to me I actually envision a ‘trickster’ type of God who, on a day when he is bored, enjoys repeatedly pushing the buttons and watching me dance the same dance. I know he is rolling in the aisles at my discomfort with the prank. Even though this is not a vision of a kindly God, in some weird way, it always makes me feel better. Sometimes it is the only assurance I get that God exists because something happened that is just too specific to me and too funny (at my expense) to not have been set up by THE Master of ‘Messing with my Brain’. (Of course, I don’t have a Dr. G’ovich in my life). I do think that hysterical laughter is an appropriate response.