Naturally, I fretted over what to wear. I have trouble with this, especially for events where I have to dress up - I am not into fashion, hate shoe shopping, and always stress out over the endless "skirt or slacks" debate, which could also be called the "prosthesis: hide or show" debate. Since it was a very warm summer evening, I made the decision in favor of a skirt, an act that usually involves me saying, "Aw, screw it. I'll wear a skirt." Besides, it was long enough to obscure the transition between fake leg and real leg, the thing that usually catches the eye of people who are going to stare.And usually, as you can see from the photo, I end up looking quite passable and having worried for nothing.
Over the years, I've noticed that if all your limbs (mostly) match in color and shape and you don't limp, people will only give you a cursory once over. It's as if their brains only process and accept what they are expecting to see. It's like hiding in plain sight and besides...no one really focuses that much on feet. People will look though, and having worn a prosthetic my entire life, I've realized it's par for the course. Children are the the most blatant in their curiosity, and that's fine. Adults will sneak a glance or two and then look away. It's all fairly normal behavior and although I may not like it, I can ignore it. Usually.
That night at the museum, a man positioned himself directly behind me and stared at my prosthetic. He walked past me a few times, still staring, never once looking up. It was when he started to slowly circle the group I was standing in, eyes still focused on what was below my knees, that I realized that he couldn't contol his impulses. It wasn't normal staring - the guy was some sort of freak and he was zeroing in on me, in a most unnerving and predatory fashion.
Self-defense experts always tell us to listen to our gut - that if something feels wrong and your monkey brain starts saying things like, "Uh oh, danger. Run! Fight! Fling poo!" you should probably pay attention. Excellent advice, although in polite company fighting might not the best course of action and I certainly was not going run anywhere - I wanted to see Saturn, I wanted to have a good time, and I wanted more free Indian buffet, dammit.
I decided to take control of the situation instead. In fact, I think he made his exit early because I had made him so uncomfortable. I, however, left the party decorated with henna and stuffed full of lamb kebabs, with visions of a ringed planet dancing in my head.