kim magowan


I’ve noticed this last year that strangers have become ruder—the young woman in the bookstore, her face creamy, pointed, and glowing as a shell, acting as if it’s my fault her credit card machine doesn’t work; the way people ignore me when I ask a question about the bus route, or else wearily pluck buds from their ears. I’ve attributed this uptick in rudeness to some material change in the world, linked perhaps to social media or epidemic ADD. But now it occurs to me that the change is not in them but in me: in my own fifty-year-old body. This must be what people mean when they talk about the invisibility of middle-aged women. In the same way, when I was young and attractive, it was easy to get served quickly at a crowded bar (so my male friends had me order their gin-and-tonics), and I took that ease for granted, casual kindness and courtesy were smoothly distributed. This revelation takes my breath away. So this is what it feels like to be old. I turn my eyes into something piercing and precise, spikes, to force this dismissive salesgirl to see me. But her plum-shadowed eyes with their mascaraed lashes flick over my face like its surface is slippery. She disregards my regard of her disregard.