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!]
[Editor: Yes, you have seen this column before. Well, sort of. I set it to publish one day early … before I had built in all the extras you have come to know and love. This was not an intentional, belated April Fools’ Day joke. It is ADHD in action. So here’s the actual column, complete with photos and links and postscripts and everything a person could ever want.]
You can tell by the title this may be my briefest “ADHD Powered” column ever.
“You’re right, Two,” I say. “Let me think. OK, he visits me.”
See? Found something already! You like that Ted visits you.
“No, I mean I like that he leaves.”
Five steps in. You’re jealous.
“What?” I scoff as I throw my head back and laugh way too hard. “Give me one good reason.”
Younger. Stronger. Taller. Better-looking. Popular. Gentle. Good-natured. Humorous.
“I said ‘one’ good reason. And why’d you stop? Run out already, did you?
Catch my breath for the next eight.
“Guys,” I protest, “I’m not jealous. I get that Thor’s all those things Five mentioned. But there’s far more to this sibling relationship than meets the eye.”
Oh, says One. Y’mean his breaking all your swimming records?
“Whose side are you on, anyway?”
Well, we’re in-side your head, Black, comments Four, so I suppose that means we’re on your side. By sheer default.
De fault of whom? winks Three, but I ignore him.
“Look, let me explain a few things to the six of you, because screens have no idea what life out here is like.”
At the risk of being Captain Obvious, replies Six, I think we’ve got a very good idea. Remember, Black, we’ve been here with you all along.
“But you’ve led such sheltered lives! You never endured the embarrassment that comes from having a brother two years younger catch you in size before first grade.”
True, agrees Four.
“And comparisons are never-ending. I barely survived having coaches tell me, ‘How come you can’t dribble a soccer ball like Mike, your oldest brother? Wow, could that guy put out some fancy footwork.’ Or a gym teacher would say, ‘Now that Jeff was a hustler. Your next-oldest brother could run all day at high speed and never get winded.’”
Thought we were railing against Ted, notes One.
“We were! We are! That’s my whole point. I thought once I made it past the huge shadow my two older brothers created, I had it made. I would grow –”
Wrong! declares Three.
“ – and blaze my own trail.”
You sort of did, says Two. I mean, the trail you made is full of pigeon-toed footprints, so that should count, right?
“Instead, I got sandwiched! Two dashing, strong, athletic older brothers and two dashing, strong, athletic younger brothers!”
“Oh, yes I did! Dianne, the only girl in the entire family (left, with daughter Cassie), shows up at the same time I do!”
Actually, 300 seconds earlier, corrects One. And she is cuter.
“I don’t even get mistaken for being my twin’s twin! Mom invites guests over, then presents Ted, Dianne and me. But one woman blabs on about tall, dark-haired Ted and tall, dark-haired Dianne being perfect fraternal twins.”
Says Five, The confusion is understandable. You are small and blond.
And left-handed, adds Two.
“The wounds continue through the years. Here I am, 30, out shopping with my four brothers at E.J. Korvette, and Mike gets stopped by an attractive woman. They talk a moment. Then she turns, eyes us and says, ‘Well, Michael, aren’t you going to introduce me to all these good-looking men?’
“Mike smiles, nods and points to each one of us as he says, ‘Jeff … Barry … Ted … and Dennis. They’re all my brothers.’
“The woman bursts into laughter. ‘Not that last one! C’mon, you can’t fool me. He’s not six foot and handsome like the rest of you!’”
I remember that, Black, Screen Six seethes. We all voted to knock her out.
“Jeff graduated from high school my freshman year. His powerful influence wiped out my sophomore year, so I couldn’t wait to be a junior – an upper classman! But my very first day – what I hoped would be the start of my best year ever – a beautiful senior named Donna rushes to me, grabs my face with both hands, and – “
Lays down a super smooch? suggests Three, panting.
“ – shouts, ‘Oh, my gosh, I just saw your youngest brother and he’s soooo good looking! I’ve got to meet him! Please, introduce me!’”
We never dreamed you’d work your way through all those “poor self-esteem” issues, Black, marvels Six. Proud of you for hanging in there.
And recover I have. Slowly. Across many years. Bit by bit. Learning to appreciate the aura around my beloved siblings … their magnetism, their charisma, their rugged good looks and sports-crafted physiques. I make such astounding progress that I dare to attend the 25th reunion of my high school graduating class, doing so despite being markedly busted up from The Accident and struggling to remember my classmates.
Into the event I stroll, my wonderful friend Miss Lauren carefully guiding and feeding me names. I make it through the entire evening, laughing and hugging and discreetly checking magic-marker tags. Finally it is time to go, and I swing through the great hall one last time to bid adieu to those with whom I grew into early adulthood.
All have said kind things to me. Nobody has compared me to a brother and wondered why I’m not “this way” or “like that.” Not one voice has questioned why Ted set state scoring records in football and I left behind the family’s best gradepoint average.
I am floating in a sea of self-confidence.
One last person waits by the exit doors. This is Cindy, whose beauty back then still envelops her as wonderfully as the gown she dons in her role of a court judge (known for her tough stance on crime, no less). She stops me and, for a moment, we sway together, I from lack of natural balance and she from assisted tipsiness.
Then she leans down to me and whispers, “I’ve always thought you were cute.”
You’ve waited a long time, whispers Six. Enjoy this.
“Th-thank you, Cindy,” I stutter, caught offguard.
“It’s true,” she assures, then gently kisses my cheek. “But you’re welcome, Barry.”
Postscript: If you haven’t gathered it by now, let me help you: I love my next-youngest brother. That childhood with Ted/Thor has given me lifetime reminiscences (yes, my Traumatic Brain Injury affected only my short-term memory and class reunions). Indeed, I love all my brothers … and that rascally DiAnnie Oakley twin of mine, too.
But I’m still going to use this opportunity to get in one last good shot at my “co-adventurer.” (This is a follow-up to my threat last week in the “Comments” section … after Thor got ME with his letter about my legs being hairier than Chewbacca’s.)
On one of my trips back to the East Coast to see Thor, he begs me to visit him at the club managed by his former high-school football coach. Arriving, I learn my brother has practiced golf, a new development. “How far can you drive the ball?” I ask, and he tells me. Impressed, I ask, “How accurate are you?”
He points out a somewhat distant and empty golf cart. “I can hit that,” he says without a trace of boast in his voice. Thor selects a club, lines up his shot and gives that dimpled ball a mighty whack. In the time the ball is traveling, two previously unnoticed men finish their drinks, quickly step into the golf cart and prepare to drive off.
THUNK! goes the ball as it caroms off the cart. The surprised men throw hands over heads and bail frantically. Thor gasps, turns to me and, just as the shouting duo look my way …
Puts the driver in my hands.
* * * * *
Children live out their wildest dreams