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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

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Weightlift Relax – that’s my lookalike, not me, with lifting partner Christie Brinkley

Tar Hollow Adventure Camp is a huge and wonderful “settlement” tucked deep within the spacious wilds of Laurelville, Ohio.

Did you say the wilds of Ohio? asks Screen Five, laughing. Of Ohio?

“Yes, Ohio. Quiet, please.”

The camp itself is a brilliant jewel in the 16,120-acre crown of Tar Hollow State Forest. This particular summer, I serve as counselor during the one-week retreat. I am responsible for keeping tabs on 100 students, ranging from incoming seventh-graders to just-graduated high-school seniors.

Moreover, I have been asked to teach a special talent as one of the camp courses.

Shame “huge caloric intake” isn’t offered, laments Three.

My specialty –

Self-declared, admits Six.

– is weight-lifting. Specifically, free weights.

Wouldn’t be right to charge campers, agrees Two.

weightlift signupMuch to my surprise and that of fellow counselor/instructor Mark Montgomery, many teen girls and boys sign on for our lesson. Learning this development prior to the camp sessions allows me to round up a good bit of gear.

The trick, says Four, is hauling it several hundred miles. In a tiny Toyota Tercel. Accompanied by other passengers.

Fortunately Mark also is bringing equipment –

Packed in a trailer, comments One. Pulled by a truck. Far fewer miles.

– and together we unload more than enough gear to meet the needs of all budding Arnold Schwarzeneggers and blossoming Christie Brinkleys.

Our well-timed arrival generates significant buzz.

Matched by moose-sized mosquitoes, moans Three, swatting swiftly.

The first two days are given to observing proper techniques – i.e., starting with smaller weights and progressively building – as well as safe handling of the loose equipment.

Mark teaches that part, says One. No way you’d know it.

By Day Three, the huge class is whittled down significantly, perhaps less from soreness and more from shattered expectations.

You told them right up front, mutters Six. You said they wouldn’t be muscled monsters overnight. Wimps!

But those campers who stay enrolled are patient, attentive and very excited. “OK, buddies,” I say, because each person has been told to select an activity partner for the remainder of the week, “let’s talk about safety.”

All six screens burst into laughter. But I’ve watched Mark. I can do this.

barbell“Never lift alone,” I stress, “because you’ll tire more quickly than anticipated. Last thing you want is to lose control of a heavy barbell swaying overhead. Have a spotter to help get it safely docked in place.”

Awesome stuff, Black! claps encouraging Six.

Having just exhausted the extent of my safety knowledge, I quickly look around for paired partners to use as real-life demonstrators.

What are they protesting? asks Two.

I notice one slight-bodied boy on the outskirts of the group. Wanting him to enjoy some camaraderie, I call this lad to assist me with the demonstration.

He stays right where he is.

“Doesn’t speak English,” somebody says. “Just French.”

Got this covered, Black! exults linguist Three, who blows the dust off my textbook French. In a manner that might incite most Parisians to remove my lips, he invites this youngster to do the very thing I’d asked moments ago.

The boy’s eyes widen. I think it is because my diction and grammar in his heart language are without parallel.

Or, surmises Six, he is scared spitless you will be his lifting “buddy” and he does not want to pass from the world in that way.

Slowly the youth steps through the parted crowd, places his back upon the bench, reaches up to curl tiny hands around the thick steel barbell and its accompanying weight. I thank him in French, then look to the crowd.

“Do not – do not! – arch,” I shout, and folks nod in agreement as I feel beneath the shy lad’s back to make sure it is pressed against the bench. “Square up,” I say, grabbing his two shoulders and exaggerating their posture.

You? laughs Four. Exaggerate?

“Concentrate on keeping your tummy tight,” I counsel. “Lastly, breathe regularly, again keeping your back solidly against the bench. Build your torso by lifting with your arms and chest.”

Great job, Coach Blackie! commends Six. I know he’s right.

smilesMy eyes still scanning the students, I notice several faces break into mammoth grins as I pat the youth’s abs during my explanation.

All bones! marvels Five. Not an ounce of fat on this one.

Teen laughter grows exponentially as I finish the upward sweep of my hand across a chest properly positioned for lifting. Five fingers transmit unexpected body details that cause me to pause, then re-sweep the chest area.

Surprised, I mumble to my female demonstrator, Ummbonjour.”

Bonjour,” she giggles back.

“Class dismissed,” I say to mob and model alike. No eye contact. Je suis fini.”

Wrong! corrects Three. “J’ai fini” means “I have finished.” But “Je suis fini” means “I am dead.”

“That’s about right, Three.”


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Postscript: High school friend Gina Bajek reports she shattered her patella

How does one break a restaurant? asks Two.

Miss Gina– on the basement’s concrete floor and must remain immobile, leg elevated, for some time. She writes, “Doctors say my knee looks kinda like a jigsaw puzzle. Luckily, the pieces are still in place.”

That there will be no surgery is little comfort to my friend. “I am so Polish,” Miss Gina laments. “I was carrying laundry and slipped on – sorry, but I gotta be honest – cat puke. Blackie, you guys don’t have the market cornered on clutziness. Bajeks are good, too.”

Then, to prove she’s learned her lesson, Miss Gina concludes, “Moral of the story? Don’t do laundry.”

Post-Postscript: Last week’s column (“The Mouse that Soared”) must have inspired my friend Terri, because she applies for a Humane Society position. During the interview, a feral mouse runs between Miss Terri and the director, also a woman. The director recoils in horror, fighting the urge to scream.

Miss Terri calmly, carefully captures the racing rodent alive and releases him outdoors.

Who, wonders Screen Five, needs resumes with interviews like that?

* * * * *

So you think you know who you’re marrying, eh?

Lions and tigers and scares, o my!