Monday, 15 November 2010

Cloak encounters (of the cape kind)

I have an Irish cape that buttons jauntily below my left clavicle. It was perfect for winters in Victoria which are cold, damp, and I guess, rather Irish. It also worked well for pregnancy, especially since mine were of the winter variety, leading to spring babies. During the decade I had children in tow needing clothes, snacks and amusement, I stopped wearing the cape because I couldn't get my pack-sack on over it.

With both girls in school, however, I realized I had the perfect garment for the Hades transition from crisp autumn to the deep-freeze that drives Ottawa pedestrians into parkas.

Donning the cape in the city that was still fairly new to me at the time, I realized I had the opposite of an invisibility cloak.

I had a Talking Cape.

People would approach me and speak to me. I hadn't noticed this effect before, because Victorians strike up conversations with strangers: on the bus, in the park, waiting for the elevator. In Ottawa, it was brief and was invariably on the topic of the cape: where did I get it, what country is it from, etc. Still, it was human contact. Or at least attention. One morning, I was at the bus-stop when a car containing four women drew up to the traffic light. I could see all four jabbering animatedly, gesturing toward me. By that time, I recognized it as The Cape Effect (at least, I hope so; I may have been drooling again) and wanted to say to them: "You know I'm standing about five feet away from you, don't you?"

This autumn's cloak encounters have included a gaudily-clad taxi driver with wildly curly hair who was convinced my cape was South American (we had a discussion of how Celtic culture may have swept through Spain en route to the British Isles), and a man who commented on my "blanket" at the crosswalk. (I think English was his second language.) A homeless man who frequents the Bay with a cat perched across his shoulders told me he liked my style.

When winter winds blow and I hang the cape back in the basement, I fade back into a non-entity. Now, each year, I have another reason to look forward to the autumn. Not only will the trees billow forth in brilliance, but for a few sweet weeks, I will exist somewhere else besides my own mind.


JoeinVegas said...

No longer the invisible woman, oh my

Persephone said...

Not for long. Winter's coming and my cape will be back in the basement soon.