Do you ever have those moments where you overlooked something so obvious that you want to just look in the mirror and facepalm at yourself? I do.
I try very hard to be observant to compensate for some of my disabilities, but try though I might I can be very oblivious at times. So here’s a bit of a funny story, about me being totally oblivious.
The other day I was at a grocery mart, when I noticed a little pair of eyes on me.
Reading faces isn’t my strong suit but I can usually guess at what someone is feeling, especially with children since they’re normally overt about their emotions. This little girl though was interested without any other evident emotion, staring long and hard at me with fixed attention.
I walked up the aisle, her eyes follow. I walked back down to check something else. Still watching.
What it says about me I don’t know but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t making her uncomfortable, I realize most people don’t trouble themselves about children looking at them, but I care about kids feelings so I changed my behaviour.
‘Maybe I’m being loud?’ I think.
So I finish what I was saying and stop talking and just browse things. My spouse tells me he’s going to get something from another aisle while I look here, I nod and look back. She’s still watching me.
‘Did I move funny?’ I wonder.
I’m in a good mood so I might have been making exaggerated gestures or flapping my hands, but no, even as I still myself and try to look more ‘adulty’ she continues to watch and watch with the exact same intensity.
‘Maybe it’s because I keep looking back, maybe I’m scaring her?’
I look away for a bit walk up the aisle, her mom is browsing in the same direction I am, but I keep my focus pick out some things and exercise patience with the watchful eyes.
My spouse returns it’s surely been a minute or two, so I look back, and not only is she still watching she’s moved closer to me than to her mom.
She hasn’t smiled or from what I can tell looked away in all the time, her eyes are wider almost as if she’s nervous, but other than that her lips are pursed together. Determined? If she were an adult I’d say she was being stone faced. Children aren’t usually stoney, and certainly not for malicious reasons, so I tell myself to chill it.
‘Relax self, maybe she’s not very used to strange people; what if she’s just nervous and this is her way of trying to be friendly?’
I can’t know the answer to that, so I decide to chance a smile. Immediately the little girl is running back behind her mom, hiding behind her legs.
Strange reaction for a smile, maybe she really isn’t used to strangers.
I decide to not let myself be bothered further and as I’m done in this aisle I go on with my shopping.
While I’m going about the other aisles I see 3 other children and each of them turns to look at me as most young kids will look at anyone they pass, and the other 3 all smile at me, waving and smiling back I acknowledge them.
‘Clearly,’ I think, ‘I’m not that scary, so at least there’s that.’
But when we’re finished shopping I see her again in line up, and she’s seen me before I’ve seen her since she’s got the same expression as before and is looking at me fixedly again. They’re ahead of us in the checkout, and even as she’s leaving the store she’s turning her head and looking back at me over her shoulder.
I try again smiling and waving at her, in response she jumps almost like she didn’t realize I could see her, moving to the other side of her moms hip but keeps on looking back at me.
Now, I should say, I don’t actually mind a bit of staring, I know lots of people think it’s rude, but I don’t really feel that way, it is more that it can be unsettling because it makes you question if there’s something stuck in your teeth, or if maybe you forgot for some reason that earlier that morning you’d taken a magic potion which had turned you into a giant bat.
This though was some pretty intense staring. Most children have been told it’s not nice to stare, so it is quite rare then to see a kid keep looking back over their shoulder the whole way, rather like an owl, even while their mom is walking them out. Certainly this is the only time I recall it happening to me.
Since I evidently wasn’t a giant bat, and children don’t often care what’s in your teeth I was left to wonder: Just what was it that she was so fixated on?
I decided to use the washroom before we went home, got in front of the mirror and suddenly realized what she must have been looking at. And then I had to laugh at myself. Blue.
My hair is blue. Bright blue.
In fact it’s been blue for 3 weeks but I’d forgotten; really to be fair I never remember what I look like on average, and my hair was up so it wasn’t in my peripheral vision to notice.
Of all the things that I thought about it, you’d think it would have occurred to me that she might have been staring at the only adult in the entire store with bright blue hair, but no, apparently that possibility had slipped my mind. The pieces fall into place and I remember of where she was looking, up, as if she was looking at my face, or rather, at my hair.
She was staring at the blue.