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!]
Know what you and the U.S.S. Enterprise have in common? asks Screen Three, oblivious to my frantic pounding of computer keys.
“Haven’t a clue,” I reply. “And don’t really have the time to think about it now, Spock. Way behind on this week’s column.”
Impulse power, answers Three.
“What?” I ask, chomping the hook.
Impulse power, repeats Five. Propels the Enterprise any time she travels slower than the speed of light.
What’s funny, says Four, is you never travel slower than the speed of light. And you’re always in motion. But both you and the ship are still impulse-powered.
“You two say these things as if they’re my fault. You’re the source of the behavior.”
Not really, Black, says One. We simply suggest things. You always have the choice of rejecting our ideas.
“Get real!” I fire back. “I have no ‘filter’ for weighing the actual outcome of what’s about to occur. You screens never provide thoughts of wrong consequences, dire circumstances, situational backfires. Real Worlders bathe their frontal lobes in chemicals every time decisions roar up. But me? The moment you guys plant a thought, I’m done for. It’s gonna happen, because I’m just one man against six screens.”
Man of action! applauds Six. No soft-steppin’ here.
Well, Two agrees, we do influence you rather strongly. Still, there have been rare exceptions when we’ve prompted and you didn’t rush into disaster…
Don’t call it disaster! argues Three. We’ve had things go well. Give me some time … I’ll think of one.
I laugh as I wait, then remember one of the “rare exceptions” that Two mentioned.
I’m slowly driving through my heavily Hispanic neighborhood of Costa Mesa, California. Normally busy, the street this night is empty of the many mighty machines maneuvered by men of machismo. Easily studying the few people we pass, I’m surprised when my screens kick into high alert as the car pulls even with a very young woman pushing her newborn’s carriage.
There! shouts Six. Three youths coming up fast!
Look at the swagger, Blackie. Young, cocky. Entire sidewalk’s theirs.
“Wow,” I laugh, “your imagination’s working overtime, Six.”
We’re your imagination, Boss, and we’re telling you, it’s about to go down. Remember, we live in gang territory.
Stopped at a red light, I watch aghast as the prediction Six just made unfolds in slow motion. High school seniors at best, three toughs block the new mother’s path. Her progress halted, she stares steadily into the mobile crib, fright splashed across her face. Closed car windows prompt me to guess the lead boy’s unclear but loud bellows utter improper things.
“Still,” I comment, “no weapons. No fists. We’re good.”
Hit him first, Screen Three directs. Six then throws wide the car door as Four asks my feet, Ready to run?
United in a single seething IMAX, the screens show me exactly how this fight will go, proclaiming nothing less than swift and bloody victory. Body already leans out of driver seat when hand grabs my shoulder. Whirling ’round, I face my passenger.
“Stay,” she pleads simply, painfully, eloquently.
Six is rolling footage of my father’s unwavering protection of the aged, the young, the underdogs in one-sided standoffs.
“Please,” she begs, “a moment.”
A moment? gasps Three. She have any idea how long that is in ADHD time?
“A moment, Blackie. That’s all. Guns, knives … this can go wrong so fast.”
Which is why you need a fast-reacting ADDer to handle this! prods Six.
The trio surrounds mother and child, leaning in close enough to kiss but shouting challenges in tongues and inflections I do not understand. Hesitation shames me. Swinging feet down to roadway, I hear the screens supply nerve-rattling phrases they promise will overcome the three-to-one disadvantage.
Lights! Cameras! Action! commands Six.
And suddenly three hoods hurriedly, inexplicably leave two innocents. Other walkers do not make themselves seen. Police do not roar up, sirens blaring and beacons glaring, to save the day. The woman has pulled no preserving pistol from her purse.
Yet the laughing cowards exit quickly, entirely unaware they are moments from conflict with a small man too angry at injustice. Not a word has escaped my lips, though my head is filled with screens’ war cries and vengeance.
“Close the door,” the woman says. Easy. Hopeful. Not demanding.
I do, noting the traffic light goes green – second time? third? – while this drama plays itself out in fading sunlight and blossoming safety.
So tell me, huffs Six. How would Doug Blackwell judge your inaction?
“My metallurgical engineer dad? His overreacting ADHD son? How should I know? We’re worlds apart.”
With pride, Black, assures Two. That’s how he’d see it. His son ready to step into the fray. The helpless kept safe by his NOT doing so.
Another great moment lost, groans Six. Reminder to self: run ad for soon-to-be-vacant screen position. Must be impulsive.
Postscript: Let’s honor (a tad early) next week’s Independence Day remembrance with just one more “impulse power” tale, shall we?
Police helicopters circle overhead this July Fourth, powerful light shafts illuminating my street.
A street, reminds Four, which happens to be the hair-raising gang boundary line between the Crips and the Bloods.
I push bike pedals in pursuit of The Beam, which locks in place half a mile from my home. Pumping hard, I roll right into a brightly lit knife fight involving well over 100 members of my Hispanic neighborhood’s two gangs. Armed people run everywhere, mad ants spilling out of a disturbed mound.
You would know, Mr. Magnifying Lens, chides Five.
S.W.A.T. members race by, guns drawn. The last officer glimpses my lily-white face and stops, stunned. “You don’t belong here, amigo.”
Just having a look, replies Three.
Which way? asks Two. We’re surrounded.
He points his sizable gun. “That direction.”
I love this crazy, tragic, sometimes almost magic, awful, beautiful life….
* * * * *
Useless information you may need
Spoiler alert: “Cool Runnings”