Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.
Welcome to ADHD.
[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks!]
Short version: Halloween and I don’t get along. Never have.
Because of the scary origins? asks Screen Four. The unholy mixture of Celtic horrors, demonic worship and ancient sacrificial rites?
My guess, offers Five, is that your disdain relates to always undergoing hospitalization or terrifying therapy at Halloween. At this very moment, for instance, your right knee is enduring painful manipulations. Think of how often you’ve needed medical care at this exact time – Halloween is a living nightmare for you!
Yes, agrees Three. Pick any year. For example, in 1987, instead of dressing for the party, you stretch out on the living room rug, your strength draining, your breath waning. At the sound of a familiar voice, you barely open your eyes and see two Ridgefield, Washington “first responders” swiftly diagnose you to be suffering from an severe but unknown allergic reaction. Except the responders aren’t in regular uniform: one is dressed as a firefighter; the other, a giant bumble bee.
“I gasp, then ask ‘em, ‘Died and went to Hell, did I?’”
Six adds, Didn’t help that you went to the hospital emergency room. Because you have no superficial wounds, no exterior signs of distress, you keep dropping in line of importance, taking a lower priority position than, say, that man with the knife stuck in his head and other oddities of the night.
“Worse yet, the allergic reaction kicks in full tilt and I quietly drift off on a gurney pushed back out of the way of the ‘real’ emergencies. When I come to, a doctor in the middle of some procedure is shouting, ‘If we don’t reverse this now, we’re gonna lose him. He is going to die.’”
Tough on the confidence, agrees Two. No wonder you murmured, “Oh, I do not want to hear this,” and went back to sleep.
My notion, says One, is that you suffered irreparable damage to your ego during your eighth-grade Halloween.
Girlfriend leave you? asks Two.
No, says One. You and a friend actually run from house to house, collecting sweets faster than candy barons. One homeowner, though, chastises the two of you. “Aren’t you too old for this? Take off your mask,” he demands of younger, bigger, physically maturing Tim Jones. When Tim does so, the man mutters, “You should be ashamed, a big guy like you robbing the little ones.” Then he tells you, undeveloped pre-pubescent wonder that you are, to remove your green ogre mask –
“And when I do, he says in surprise, much softer, ‘Oh, sorry about chewin’ YOU out. Here, kid … take what you want.’”
So, ask six screens in a single chorus, which of us is correct?
I laugh. “Stumped you guys. For once, you didn’t cite the right answer!”
The screens, feathers ruffled and egos dented, demand my story.
“Relax. You’re so tightly wound. Look, here’s how it played out …”
Newlyweds Travis and Carol Montgomery, with whom I live for several months upon first arriving in Ohio –
Newlyweds? asks Three, far too theatrically. You move in with them just two weeks after they marry? I’ll bet they felt your months with them seemed like years!
Six and One burst into hoots and shoot each other smirks.
– are also the leaders of the church youth group. They have big plans for the evening, plans that include taking all their young charges to the Cedar Point Amusement Park. They ask me to join them for the festivities.
Why do you tell them you cannot board any of the high-speed roller-coasters? queries Five. You’re going to one of the top “ride” parks in the nation!
I wonder the same thing, adds Six, miffed. You discard an unparalleled opportunity to show how fearlessly you ride those attractions.
“My already severe balance problem after The Accident would skyrocket. Can you imagine the way I would walk after being whipped back and forth and all around like that?”
Wild laughter erupts inside my head. Exactly the way you do now.
At Cedar Point’s Halloween festival, there are many activities beyond the rides. Plenty of food is available, with a selection so vast it makes me grateful I am able to absorb endless quantities.
Especially if you won’t be losing your tasty treats on loop-de-loops, says Five.
We enter one of the first haunted house venues. I turn, boasting to the youth group the best thing about these places is I’ve often been able to scare the “paid spooks.”
The youths laugh, but not because of my claim. They see a paid spook, huge and deathlike, quietly stepped up behind me. I spin, face him, and absolutely lose my grip.
Pushing past the embarrassment of squeaking in tones only bats can hear, I vow to catch the next hired horror offguard. One jumps out of curtains and scares the folks just ahead.
There’s your cue, urges Six. Drop to your knees. Slide along the wall. Slide a hand under the curtains. Grab his leg!
I become serpentine silence itself, slithering down the hallway to set the spook’s doom. My hand makes broad sweeps beneath the curtain, but no leg presents itself. I hear Travis laugh as his hand lightly touches my back, apparently urging me to cease the farce. I turn to tell him –
And squeak in tones only bats can hear! says Three, again with too much emphasis. That spook owned you!
I tell the group we should tackle the night’s final obstacle. Just ahead is the rotating cylinder through which Lee Majors, starring in TV’s “Six Million Dollar Man,” had to run for a simulated avalanche. I do not understand the attraction’s challenge until we lay eyes upon it.
Declares Six. You thought the tunnel path actually rotated, but it is level and unmoving. Sure, lights flash in kaleidoscopic fashion, and the big white tube rotates around you as if you were caught in some sort of blizzard. But trust me, you can walk right through this thing.
Two of our group do, indeed, step smartly through the remarkable optical illusion. From the far side, they eagerly call to me.
I step into the rotating tunnel. I feel the smooth, even pathway and grasp handrails on both sides as I start my stroll through the giant display. But the lights disorient me; the huge cylinder, spinning to the right, fools me into thinking the Earth moves beneath me. My steps are uncertain and I crash against the rails, laughing at the impossibility of completing just 30 more steps.
Close your eyes, Black! instruct humans and screens alike, but the brilliant light floods my pupils despite tightly shuttered peepers.
“Help him,” shout several attendees in and among the wild laughter echoing against the tunnel. Brothers Matt and Tony Wrozek – strong-bodied, prime-voiced rappers with “Glass City Boyz” – rush to my side in a bold rescue.
They fall, too. Matt calls out to pal Gabe Greenwalt, who sweeps in and collapses, entangling bodies.
Apparently, it takes a village, sighs Six. Because ultimately, everybody else sweeps into that tunnel, grabs you fallen heroes and crawls out the other side.
This year, if a spankin’ new titanium knee allows me the honor, I simply will hand out candy to costumed kids from the relative safety of my front walkway. But I won’t say, “Happy Halloween.”
This odd day and I don’t get along. Never will.
Postscript: I just read that certain passwords don’t work well for protecting a computer. They are too familiar, too often used. In particular, say the experts, cyberhackers go after birthdates first since it is so easy to remember for us to remember.
Even when it’s from long ago? kids Three.
With that in mind, I’m setting aside my usual (I cannot say “normal”) ADHD behavior to defeat those hackers. I will listen to authority. I won’t use my birthdate.
I’ll use my twin’s.
Post-Postscript: My loving family checks on me again following my total knee replacement. Makes me feel so warm and tingly …
Dianne: How is it going, Den? You’ve been quiet for a bit. WHICH ALWAYS MAKES US NERVOUS! We start looking around… checking over our shoulders… looking around corners… Everything ok? Hugs for you. And for Nurse Laura.
Blackie: New type of glue and tape used for all external work – everything soaked off within 10 minutes. Heavy-duty stitches just inside the zipper will dissolve on own. Doctor heard me mention returning to work. Shocked, he asked, “Do you know this is rated, minimum, as a six-week hiatus? Do you just want to undo all this?” That’s when I realize Miss Laura’s offer to help me fare well in this world could easily become a farewell to this world should I overestimate my recovery and put myself at risk ….
Barron: Keep fighting, Denny. “Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.”
Blackie: And titanium. Titanium lasts. For a lifetime, I hope.