When I first moved back to Minnesota in the summer of 2015, I had some leeway in being able to be upright before I started to get paralysis in my face. I could be without my cane and go incognito for about an hour before it became obvious that there was something not quite right with me (besides being “weird” as some of my friends declared my personality). But as I’ve gone on without being able to get any assistance from doctors and the pressure in my cranium has increased, I haven’t been able to leave without my cane, and the left side of my face becomes immobilized much quicker now. I become invisible to the majority of the opposite sex. I don’t dress any differently, I still put on my yummy perfume oils that smell like sex and chocolate and I still do up my makeup just right. But my cane and the left side of my face are my instant cloak of invisibility.
The exception is middle-aged Somalian cab drivers.
First, they find out if I’ve had children. I tell them I’ve had a hysterectomy, so I can’t have children. They tsk-tsk their tongues and then say, “That’s too bad. No kids? Maybe some day. That’s okay.”
Then they ask me what I like to do for fun. I explain that I don’t go out much because I have to lay down a lot because of my health problems. They make the tsk-tsk sound again. “You have to get out more.”
Sometimes they will ask me if I believe in “God.” I tell them I don’t believe in religion and I will not be with someone who pushes their beliefs on me. Some will tell me I need to pray about it; some will tell me they respect that and I don’t have to believe what they believe (but I’m a pretty suspicious sort of person and I always think men will say anything to get in my knickers).
Then they get to the point where they ask if I would like their number. They tell me that everyone wants someone to be close to – which is true. Some try to sell me on the point that in the Somalian culture, everything is provided for the women. (This is not at all appealing to me – good thing my face is paralyzed to keep things polite! I don’t want to be thrown out of the cab.)
Sometimes I have to refuse the offers of numbers 8 or 9 times. This last one, pictured above and most recent, was a fun sort of guy, and we talked a lot about dancing. I used to do a lot of swing and salsa dancing and miss it terribly. He told me that he goes out dancing for 4-5 hours at a time and it would be great exercise for me. When I was having a hard time getting him to take no for an answer, it was becoming a sort of unreal conversation:
Him: You should let me take you out dancing.
Me: I can’t. I need to have brain surgery.
Him: When will that be?
Me: I really don’t know.
Him: Tsk-tsk. You should let me take you out dancing.
Me: No. I can’t even turn quickly. Dancing could kill me. (I didn’t explain the whole pressure in the cranium and stroke and aneurysm risk factor – way too complicated.)
Him: It would be fun. We should get to know each other.
Me: I really have to concentrate on my next surgery for now, but thank you.
Thankfully most of my doctor appointments are within 10-15 minutes of my apartment so the awkwardness never lasts much longer than that.