I wonder if I would censor myself if I knew anybody was watching.
That feels like the common stream of existence: you’re this awesome insignificant thing that has thoughts and feelings in multiplicity. Little universes of swirling emotions flit around the inside of your skull in a strange loop that decides one day to be itself, and then poof! you’re there.
That’s one more exclamation point than I am comfortable with.
But there’s something appealing about the darkness; or, at the very least, the illusion of being invisible. And holy hell, it’s an illusion for damn sure.
It’s that feeling like some Romantic Comedy slice of Bubble gum, overly sexualized to Mulvey’s male gaze, for whatever reason deciding that going about in her underoos in her pinker than someone’s repressed desires bedroom shaking it all in some weirdly sensual and silly dance, that is too much of one, but ends up being neither. It’s the weird sense of paradox.
I get that way, sometimes.
Granted, I have a lot less ass, and more belly…and other undesirable things that make it funnier.
But I love, love, love the feeling of dancing on the subway. It’s this freedom from the responsibility of giving a shit about society. I gyrate my hips; I move my entire body to its own internal prerogative: da beat, yo. I let the world drift by while my movements make me feel sensual, and real. But I’m not in some distant way. I feel like a character in a movie heightened our of proportion to lowly mortals. My tight jeans which define everything sharply enough to be at least moderately attractive let everyone know what I know.
It’s like being naked, and flipping someone off confidently, because of it.
But they never prepare you for the moment someone takes out a camera, and begins to film it.
I don’t even know if people are saving the video, or snapping it, or whatever. At a certain point I just stopped pretending it wasn’t happening.
And, for those out there who think you’re subtle by placing your camera two inches from your face, and resting it on your cleavage with a shit-eating grin…well, there’s a spy business I’m sure that’s waiting to sign you up.
But I should backtrack.
I was once on the subway lip-syncing (perfectement) to Hamilton. I was hitting every note; my foot was a bass kick perfection. My entire body was in tune and I was motion itself. The sun was setting behind me, as it likes to do on the good days; and I was Hamilton, and Lafayette, and Washington, write large against the uncomfortable plastic cushioning.
And a portly woman, I notice, has her phone resting just at the point where it would be inconsiderate to stare. She’s giggling to herself as she stares at the precariously balanced screen.
Directly across from me.
A jolt brings me to the awareness that my non-privacy is in fact public. I’m brought shamefully aware of the fact that I am not Lin-Manuel Miranda; that my body is not a perfect sync; that I have stretch marks, and I have ugliness, and I am common. No, that’s not really true. I just get angry.
Part of me wants to flip the woman off. Part of me says it would be just. But only part. Most of me feels the kind of ashamed that you don’t realize it’s shame because it’s all in the loose nausea of your limbs settling the shake. It’s the feeling of blood dilating in your vessels. And it’s the feeling of vomit that makes you want to scream.
And it hurts, because I’m reminded that I don’t get to be private, in public. And maybe you say to yourself “Well, fucking duh”. But here’s the thing: it keeps me sane.
Life is such an incredible flame show of suffering and misery and obsessive compulsive restraints we call culture. Life is all about those bizarre rituals that, if you think about for just the slightest second too long, become aware are in fact, total fucking nonsense.
This is my nonsense ritual. This is my being me, merely because I need to be me, and this brings me there. And I get that it seems like I’m asking for attention. We often assume that that is the case; hell, I probably am, if I get freudian on myself.
But in the moment, whenever this happens, I’m not aware that I’m acting like a whore for attention. That I’m a 2 dollar trick for someone else’s Schadenfreude.
I’m the guitarist in my favorite band, and the elevated platform and electrified railing are my stage; I’m some lonely crooner who knows that, if she calls, it’ll be alright; I’m a punk artist; I’m rock; I’m motherfucking Alexander Hamilton and Crew.
But then I remember: I’m not those things. I’m being watched.
I always get on myself most, when I give in to my anger. I’ve flipped off people, when I catch them. it’s not regular, and it depends on my mood. Often I just do nothing. But I always scold myself when I give into that feeling of privacy invaded.
Because man, it ain’t just. I’m funny looking. If I take the headphones off, I’m some dude dancing to some invisible music that no one else can hear — sometimes I’m even singing along — and no one else has any frame of reference as to why. Unless they’re fans of that music, and that’s a big if.
I’m weird as fuck.
So I let women videotape me on their cleavage. I let the people giggle and watch, or show their friends that I’m just being me. I don’t really care that much, once I’m back to normal. And, I don’t really know if I’d be any different.
But it certainly made me realize: you’re never not being watched, even when you feel invisible.
So I operate on that assumption, and let the rest work itself out.