“The Incredible Shrinking Man” was a hit movie in 1957, at least for my 14-year-old friends and me. Now I’ve discovered that I, too, am an incredible shrinking man. Incredible because I’m becoming “The Invisible Man” as well. Just like the character in the comic book of the 1950’s of the same name. But more about my invisibility later, first I’ll deal with the shrinking factor.
I was over six-feet tall when I graduated from high school. I stayed that way, for decades, I guess; I don’t know for sure because they don’t measure your height when you go to the doctor; they just weigh you and then ask how tall you are. I didn’t know I was shrinking. I had a disc in my back removed and lost some height. And I got old, which is the big factor in this shrinking phenomenon.
I asked the nurse to measure my height a few years ago. The measuring device is right next to the scale, but they don’t use it on adults. “You’re five-eleven and one-half,” she said. I was surprised; I’d slipped below the six-foot mark. The number I’d used on a multitude of forms and applications over the years were a lie.
This year I asked again, and learned I’d shrunk even more, “You’re not quite five-eleven.” Our bodies settle over time, like those rusting hulks of old cars you see in the country, slowly sinking into the weeds. I needed to change my pant leg size from 32 inches to 31, but they don’t make them in a 31. So I now have a wad of cloth nestled on top of my shoes. I don’t know how far this will go; I just hope I’ll be around long enough to be called “Shorty.”
Now back to my invisibility. People my age, strangers and acquaintances alike, smile, nod, or say something like, “How you doing” when we pass each other on the sidewalk. People under 30 look right through us old coots when we pass, as though we were invisible.
I got used to it at first, but now it’s also people in their 40’s and 50’s who see right through me. Little by little I’m becoming completely invisible. If you are walking down the street or sitting at a table in the Owego Kitchen and a voice from nowhere says, “Hi,” Just reply, “Hi Shorty; how you doing,” and go about your business.
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