The Odd Sock Man
There is a guy who I know as the Odd Sock Man. He did tell me his real name once but I have long forgotten it. Everybody I know refers to him as the Odd Sock Man or words to that effect. You really only have to hear the word 'Sock' to know whom they are referring to. Many people talk to him and everybody knows him. Conversation rarely requires a name.
The Odd Sock Man is not crazy, he is not odd, he is just perhaps a little eccentric. He has a beautiful girlfriend, a brummy accent and many friends. He is not an especially good raconteur or particularly wealthy. He is however inspired.
Apart from in the mountains I would never wear a shoe let alone a sock in the sticky heat of Thailand. He does. Every day he leaves his room. Shorts, sandals and odd socks. The majority of the socks are colourful. The oddity cannot be overlooked. It is the feet you see first. Eyes travel up the body to his broad grin. Eyes meet eyes. You smile. That's the clincher.
Through much of my travels I have been invisible. It is sometimes an age thing, sometimes cultural. Invisibility is at times a blessing.
Within the UK I have passed through affray like a ghost. If I were younger I would probably get a kicking for just being. Only I wouldn't because I am streetwise enough to see conflict coming and give it a wide berth. In some UK cities, especially in the North, I am more visible than in others. In London I am scarcely noticeable. Strangely I am visible to lost Northerners. Perhaps somehow people can pick up on kinship.
In Singapore I am invisible. Invisible in Malaysia too apart from Sabah. In Indonesia everyone sees me. The same too in much, but not all, parts of Thailand. In Cambodia I am seen by some and in Vietnam seen by all. In the Philippines I must glow like a beacon for all to behold. In Hong Kong I become a Ghost yet again.
Be Aware of Invisibility
A few weeks ago I had the second of two recent biopsies done on my face. It would not stop bleeding and necessitated the application of a large white pressure bandage. One would have thought that such a dressing would have made me less worthy of a glance, but far from it.
The eyes are the key, the smile the reward. This is almost basic training within the world of zoos. In the first day of this bandage being applied I met and talked with more strangers than I had in weeks. I even picked up a beautiful young woman at a bus stop (sadly she was on a different bus to me).
I changed the dressing. I did not need to replace it but I did. I spoke to more, met more. I removed the dressing and instant invisibility returned.
The Odd Sock Man has his way of going about it. Some people dye or streak their hair, have an unusual tattoo or mode of dress. If you want to make friends you have to do something different. This though is just the bait, the cue. The eyes must meet and then the smiled reward.
The smile is the clincher.
Perhaps I should apply a bandage.
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