He Was Also The Phantom Of The Opera.

Have you ever been on an elevator with a group of people and it stops at a floor no one selected and when the doors open there’s no one there? Whenever that happens I always say, “It must be Claude Raines.” And no one ever gets it. Or maybe they’re contemplating the fact that in Britain elevators are called “lifts” even though they lower you too. Or maybe they’re too busy considering the physics of invisibility, or even the biology of an invisible person. Probably not the chemistry because what would that have to do with anything? Yes, in the 1933 movie and even in the H.G. Wells novel the protagonist, Griffin, becomes invisible by injecting a chemical, which is kind of ridiculous because most chemicals, even ones that prompt such dramatic changes, would eventually wear off. At least in the 1975 TV series, which I remember watching as a kid, it was a nuclear process and in the 1987 novel Memoirs Of An Invisible Man and the 1992 adaptation with Chevy Chase the protagonist is rendered invisible by bombardment with radiation, but then in 2000 with Hollow Man it was a chemical process all over again. And in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man it’s really an extended metaphor, but that’s another story.

It’s the biology that’s ridiculous, though, which I didn’t realize until I was taking an anatomy exam and one of the questions was, “Could the Invisible Man see? Discuss.” And I wrote, “No, sight depends on light projecting images onto the back of the retina. What do you want me to discuss? How you’ve just ruined what I thought was a pretty cool story? That maybe the Invisible Man isn’t really invisible but is like some kind of chameleon and can blend into the background? That you’ve tried to drag out a yes-no question so you can slip off to the teachers’ lounge for a smoke? That there are times when the power to become invisible would be really helpful in dealing with the perils of adolescence? That since it’s May I should be gathering nuts instead of sitting in here going nuts?”

I had to stay after school. My correct but creative answer was not appreciated. Go figure.

 

10 Comments

  1. Ann Koplow

    Your correct and creative writing is always appreciated here, Chris. Thank goodness we can see you.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      And I’m always glad to see your comments here, clear as they may be.

      Reply
  2. mydangblog

    If you want to be truly invisible, you need a proper cloak!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I thought about mentioning Harry’s cloak of invisibility–it was one of the Deathly Hallows, after all–since it seemed like the most plausible way to be invisible. Serums and physics experiments gone awry just don’t explain how someone could be invisible, but magic makes perfect sense.

      Reply
  3. red

    Probably they just don’t talk to strangers in the elevator. I like to mentally sort my to-do list in elevators. Heading home: What am I doing when I get there? To work: Which subway stop, with which food choices, will I take? or perhaps: what work will I have to do today?

    I probably didn’t hear your comment, or thought it was meant for someone else.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Most of the time I don’t talk to strangers in the elevator either, and it’s even a little disconcerting when it’s only me and one other person and they start talking. Fortunately the one thing I avoid when I’m in the elevator with another person is talking to myself, which I’m sure they’d find very disconcerting.

      Reply
      1. Red

        I highly recommend talking to yourself in a different language. That implies that you wouldn’t understand them if they spoke to you anyway!

        Reply
        1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

          That’s a good idea and one I’ll have to try, but other than Latin I don’t know enough of any language to talk to myself in it. Well, I could drop a bit of Norwegian. But I work near a college campus and often overhear conversations in lots of languages so someone might recognize whatever language I use and try to talk to me in it.

          Reply
  4. Allison Everett

    Whenever the phantom floor thing happens, I always say, “We’re taking the scenic route”.

    I was a High School frosh taking a test in biology once, and I looked over the whole thing in a panic, and said in an inner monologue, “I don’t know a damn thing on this test!” Only, I said it out loud. The class all giggled. The teacher didn’t get mad, but I made a D. So I did know *something*…

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s good to know that you could BS your way to at least a passing grade.
      And I think I may try that line about taking the scenic route. Maybe more people will get that one.

      Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: