Couldn’t stay inside forever. The premier post-op outing was a brief jaunt to the nearest ATM. My only human encounter was with the unfortunate young lady waiting behind me to use the machine. Having (for a moment) forgotten the severely distorted appearance of my face, turned around to politely acknowledge her existence. She just about jumped out of her shoes.
Joked that I should go out and scare people more often. Opted to pass though, every time I had a chance. Until Saturday night.
Two parties on tap: first at the Treehouse (a lovely home in the well-forested West Hills). Next, the Drowning Man Party (like Burning Man, but with a hot tub). How could I not!
The Treehouse has trees growing through the deck (decorated with strings of light), tall ceilings and a winding staircase. Of course a well-stocked kitchen. The attendees were nicely-dressed and at least somewhat attractive. Most striking – everyone was white, not counting the entertainment (a spot-on Prince impersonator). No one was overweight (except some women, but only in the chest area). No one was “abnormal” in any way.
Until I walked in.
Obviously, something is “wrong” with me. Strangers have no clue if it’s a permanent affliction or what. Friends immediately greet and offer consolation. The party host kissed me hard on the cheek, which kind of hurt (a lot). Must’ve been drunk already.
One guy, after hearing the crash story, couldn’t help giggling every time we crossed paths. (Figured he’s one of those dudes with a “gummer” fantasy.) Said he wanted to get a picture together so he could show everyone he was hanging out with a meth head. Ha ha. Few minutes later he had the audacity to approach me with his camera. As if it was acceptable for him to suggest it in the first place?
Worst: the tallest, most handsome man at the party. Wouldn’t even LOOK at me. Several times, caught him diverting his gaze. This may seem impossible to perceive, but ask anyone with a severe handicap or abnormality and they will likely report having experienced the same thing.
Sometimes he was right next to me. After about two hours, when I’d spoken with everyone else in the Treehouse, he was the only person who completely avoided eye contact.
The Drowning Man party was on the East Side, more diverse in every way. And costumes! Some ladies changed several times, increasing skin on display. Was welcomed by Mel, who could see I was shaken up. Tried to describe what had happened (or really, what had not happened) with that guy at the Treehouse… Couldn’t stop tears popping.
Soon, was distracted by other things.
Got home, scanned the Treehouse party guest list, looking for a gal I’d met. Didn’t see her. But I did see the man who could apparently use a tip or two in social etiquette.
Didn’t hesitate to send a message: “Gotta say, the way you diverted your eyes every time they accidentally fell upon me… felt pretty awful. I’m not a mutant. Just recovering from surgery. (But even if I was a mutant, that’s a terrible way to treat someone.) Have a nice night.”
A simple lesson in having human decency. Unless they’re trying to be invisible, not acknowledging someones existence hurts.
Everyone deserves to be looked at in the eye.