[Julia's car was towed, and she paid an exorbitant amount to redeem it.]
“It’s sad though,” Julia thought, as she drove toward the ferry, “how little leeway people give each other. When I was young, somehow people always believed me when I said I didn’t know something or didn’t mean to do something. I always got off with warning tickets, and it wasn’t because of my good looks. It was because of my youth and earnestness” (and indeed, she had had more good looks than she gave herself credit for). “And I’m still earnest, but now no more to be trusted than the next person. Oh I know, rules are meant for everybody, but I miss being believed, being trusted. I am, after all, even more trustworthy now than I was when I was young. But somehow age taints us, and we seem like we’re trying to escape justice even when we’re just trying to be honest and get a fair shake.”
Marta, misinterpreting Julia’s silence, apologized for criticizing her handling of the situation. “Are you mad?” she asked.
“Of course not,” replied Julia. “No, I was just thinking, do you ever miss, well, not being young exactly, and I don’t really mean this the way it sounds, but getting away with things? Being let off the hook? Now it seems we’re always on the hook, no matter what happens.”
“I do know what you mean,” Marta said. “I never got a traffic ticket until I was 40. When I did get one, it made me feel so old. So, I don’t know, irrelevant? Like the policeman was looking at me and seeing an old lady, someone you wouldn’t look at twice.”
“I actually like not being looked at,” Julia said. “I like the cloak of invisibility that’s around me now.” She had never been comfortable with constantly being evaluated by men when out in public. Catcalls and teasing had both been hard on her sensitive nature. But now she wondered, sadly, why the choice had to be between objectification and invisibility? Couldn’t there be something in the middle? It seemed natural that people were always sizing each other up, but why not a more holistic approach, and the realization that everyone had something to offer, even if it wasn’t sex or even love? But she supposed this kind of thinking was an effect of age itself. When she was young, she too was constantly evaluating men as to their suitability as partners. The difference was that she hadn’t based that evaluation on looks at all, or on money or ambition, not that she hadn’t been drawn to some attractive men. But attraction for her seemed to mean something entirely different than was meant by the rest of the world, and she found it hard to be so different, to feel so incomprehensible even to those to whom she was closest.