Oblivion is a double-edged sword.
Not the kind of oblivion one’s work is consigned to when nobody pays it any mind. That kind of oblivion is a single-edged sword, and a very sharp, very threatening sword it is too.
I’m talking about the state of oblivion. Being oblivious. Not noticing.
I have almost fifty years’ experience being oblivious, and I can tell you that it has its advantages. It’s a godsend to a weird kid, to miss the subtle slights and implied insults. I’m sure my teenage years would have been angst-ridden and miserable, had I only noticed.
On the other hand, it can make it difficult to hold a job. It’s only in retrospect that I realize what a royal pain in the ass I must have been as an employee. I’d be sitting in a meeting, hashing through an issue, thinking, “Boy, we’re really getting to the bottom of this!” while, to a man, everyone else would be thinking, “Boy, I wish that royal pain in the ass would shut the hell up!”
It can also be a problem in intimate relationships. To miss the body language, to blunder past the unspoken, to be deaf to the subtext, it all spells trouble. It’s not a coincidence that I married a man who understands, absolutely, that if he wants me to know something he has to tell me. In English.
My oblivion isn’t limited to the interpersonal. It extends to the cultural, which is why my clothes are never quite right and I can’t get the hang of Facebook.
Manhattan is something of an antidote to oblivion. When you walk out the door, the world thrusts itself upon you. Out here on Cape Cod, though, isolation compounds my problem. I can wear the same sweater day in, day out, and there’s no neighbor or doorman to notice. The only person I talk to daily understands that, if he wants me to know something, he has to tell me. In English.
The longer we stay here, the more distanced I feel from the rest of the civilized world. Sometimes, I’m fine with that, and I go about my business feeding my chickens, weeding my garden, and trying to outsmart the striped bass. But then, some rainy day, I tackle my three-foot-high stack of unread New Yorkers, and it’s clear to me that I’m a pathetic ignorant hayseed.
Those two worlds collided this week. My friend Amanda, who notices all the things I miss, and most definitely has the hang of Facebook, alerted me to the fact that there is a singer named Ke$ha (now who would name a daughter Ke$ha?) who has started a craze for turkey feather hair extensions.
Turkey feather hair extensions? No way. “Google it,” Amanda told me. She told me this on Twitter, so I couldn’t see her eyes rolling.
Sure enough. Extensions made of the striped tail feathers of the kind of turkeys we raise are cropping up everywhere and, just like that, I am propelled to the vanguard of fashion. I am officially taking bids for zebra-striped turkey tail feathers. I’ll be turkey farmer to the stars, with big, beautiful feathers from birds raised humanely in a large, comfortable pen. They’ll be in great demand.
The only problem is that they’re not deliverable until November, by which time the craze will undoubtedly be over. Not that I’ll notice.