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.
This isn’t me, of course. The shorts aren’t orange.
“Please tell me you’re not going outside in this,” says my beautiful brown-eyed bride.
Silence is more than golden, whispers Screen Four. It’s life-preserving.
“Yes, actually,” I reply. “Yes, I’m going out for my walk, the way I do every morning at 4 o’clock.”
“In this snow? Five below zero? Wearing shorts?”
She wants you to remove them? asks Two.
“I’ve got on gloves, hat, scarf and coat. Plenty of gear.” Her flinch prompts me to add, “You know how much heat my legs throw off.” Miss Laura’s not impressed. “And I’ve got boots on this time instead of sneakers.”
Hit the door, Black, suggests Six. She’s got that look.
Out into the frozen blackness of the day I stride in manly manner. Then I round the first corner and step into wide-open spaces where I’m –
Assaulted by wind chill of 17 below, observes One. Brutal.
– wondering how to sneak back in the house and throw on three more layers.
Skin welcomes frostbite at temps like these, says Five. (He’s not warning me, mind you … just spouting facts.) I’d say you have about 25 minutes in this 20mph wind.
After that, laughs Three, Blackie’s the next YouCube.
Nonsense! Six encourages. You’ve done this before.
“True, Six,” I affirm. “But that was last year. I’ve gained weight and lost strength in the interim. The surgeries aren’t helping in this bitter cold. Feeling so stiff .…”
You’ll generate more heat if you walk faster, advises Five. Of course, the heavy breathing could frost your lungs. Wouldn’t that be a tough way to go!
One third of my way through the daily 3.8-mile jaunt, a silent black car runs the stop sign, hits me in the “protected walkway” –
What body part is that? ask Two.
– and buckles me over its hood like a bag of marshmallows. Slowly straightening, I try to peer through the windshield but jump when the driver honks twice. “Get out of the way!”
That’s not what he said! protests Three.
Shaken, I step back in disbelief. The car roars past me, sliding out into the intersection where it veers crazily in the fresh-fallen snow. Though I practically kissed the driver’s front-mounted license plate, I have no chance to view that or the back plate for his number. He drives off as the first pain signals arrive, reminding me that I have –
No cell phone, chides Four. Daily you tell your bride a man doesn’t need it. Enjoy the long limp home.
I don’t. But I do roll out of bed the very next morning, determined to exercise. Precisely one week later, there’s still a slight hitch in my step. I’m not about to let that get in the way of my –
Manly manner, claps Six. You go, guy!
– stepping outside into an Arctic blast so bitter it must end my ability to produce children.
Black ice everywhere, comments Five. You’re probably good for four spills.
In the first third of my 3.8-mile stroll, I tumble just once. Neck has a strange new ache, but there’s no point in turning back now. I creak and pitch to the middle of a “protected walkway” when a half-ton truck –
Brace yourself! coughs Six, not wanting to be accused of warning me.
– motors right through and knocks me backwards.
Lightning isn’t this accurate! whoops Three.
Six bellows, Then punch punch punch!
I cannot. The driver has jumped out and thrown his arms around me to steady my swaying. Truck lights show his aged face, tears coursing craggy features. Wild winds steal woeful words. The man steps even closer, forcefully says, “I’m so sorry!”
Nice guy, says Two. He doesn’t just skid, smack and scoot.
No time for sympathy, declares Six. Finish the 3.8 miles and walk off the injury.
I do. By the time I return home, everything aches. Even my eyelids.
Worse, Five advises, is that you’re still cold. Watch what happens when you warm up. Hoo boy, that’s gonna hurt!
My anxious bride asks me to consider wearing a helmet on my walks. Instead, I call the local police station, announcing I’ve been popped twice in one week on the exact same road, in the same protected walkway, by different early-morning drivers running stop signs.
The responding officer asks, “What do you want me to do?”
“Post a cruiser nearby. These people need to be caught.”
The officer laughs. “Not gonna happen, sir.”
“Do you have to know the license plates? I can prove I’ve been hit.”
“Oh, I believe you,” he answers. “We see you walking this route every day, picking up trash and wearing those shorts even in bad weather like this.”
His laughter sounds as if he doubts your sanity, states Four.
“Then why can’t you plant a cruiser?”
He laughs once more. “Truth is, Mr. Blackwell, last summer we had a lot of complaints from the locals about cars flying up and down this road. So we did what they asked and hid a cruiser in just the right spot.”
“Several. Every one of ’em lives on this street.”
Postscript: Astute readers that the five of you are, you may notice I did NOT mention former New Providence High School Principal Dr. Michael Carey, though I promised such after writing in last week’s column about Dr. Carey’s passing. (You’re a bright lot, you are … 150-watters in a world full of dimbulbs.)
At the 11th hour, I decided against publishing that content because – well, men may regret youthful mistakes without needing to re-live them. Let me instead do something far less humorous and far more powerful and leave you with parting words of wisdom from our much-loved administrator and friend, as written to my graduating class in 1975:
“There will be no easy answers, no quick solutions, no single approach to the problems we face. Their solutions lie in an unselfish, untiring commitment to your fellow man ….”
Thank you for your ever-present laughter and reassuring words the many times you “rescued” me from my ADHD misdeeds, sir. See you on a distant day in a far better place.
* * * * *
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