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!]
Hearing the screens whisper, I wonder what they discuss. But since they can read my thoughts – actually, they ARE my thoughts – they don’t leave me wondering for long.
The title you chose, says Screen One. We’re all for celebrations, but we think you really meant to type in “Throwback Thursday.”
“Wrong, o less than wise One. ‘Throwback Thursday’ arose from the Facebook swamps. My completely different topic is about paybacks.”
Two has a knowing grin. Like what they show after a touchdown, right? Instant payback?
“It’s what we are NOT supposed to do when others wrong us.”
Which no doubt means, smirks Six, you are about to tell stories where you did just that.
“True. I also will point out that ADHD paybacks are fast and creative.”
The “payback” concept first surfaces in my life at 10 years of age. I join my family in crossing a log over a trickle of creek in New Jersey’s Watchung Reservation. As we carefully totter, next-oldest brother Jeff, 13, points downward. “See those tiny fish?” I nod that I do. “Well, I learned on ‘Tarzan’ they can strip an elephant to bone in two minutes. They’re piranhas.”
Panicked, I lose balance and fall directly into the creek.
Great aim! cheers Six. Tough to do with so little water!
My father hears not the splash of tiny body hitting tiny body of water but the agonized screams of a son fearing man-eating fish. Dad, thinking I dread drowning, leans over and says, “Stand.” I am too busy thrashing the shallows to heed useless advice.
That’s it, Black! encourages Four. Keep moving and those terrors won’t sink teeth in you.
Dad finally reaches down and uses that massive left hand to withdraw me from my nightmare. He presses me, an excellent swimmer, for an explanation of my tears. I tell him of the piranhas. He laughs long and hard and says, “Where in the world did you ever get the idea those mini-minnows are piranhas?”
I point at Jeff. He uneasily backs up and I vow never again to be caught in such a situation.
Let the paybacks proceed! claps Three.
Forty years later, stepping into the brisk night of Ohio winter, I feel I’ve frozen on the spot. “Dave,” I shout back at the door, “let me borrow your coat.”
Fellow laborer Dave opens the door, tosses his new blue coat to me, laughs and says, “I’m throwing the deadbolt. Good luck getting back inside.” Dave peeks through the window with glee at his “great joke.”
Freeze me out, will you? grimaces Four. Blackie, do you see the filthy Shop-Vac filter in your hands? Slap it against his coat. Many times.
The door flies open. Notes One, Lightning should move so fast.
Next payback. I lay down my progressive-lens glasses –
Tri-focals, corrects Three, who just likes the number.
– and step away during the quick seminar break. When I return, co-worker Helen greets me with an even greater smile than her pretty face normally offers.
“Something funny?” I ask.
“No,” she answers, followed by her soft tee-hee, tee-hee.
Says Five, Those four tiny syllables indicate something is amiss.
“Can’t worry about that right now, Five. Struggling to follow all these new Social Security rulings.” I fret, shifting my glasses several times. “Sheesh. Even the handouts are unclear.” Frustrated, I take off my spectacles and rub my eyes.
Miss Helen taps my shoulder and again smiles mightily. “Switched your glasses with Jeanette’s.” Tee-hee, tee-hee.
“Largely” so, teases Three.
– but lamenting the frequency of her restroom trips. “My husband knows if I even hear running water,” she almost wails, “I have to go.”
One minute later, she, expressing urgency, unsteadily stands. Heavily turning, she sees me beside her, slowly – loudly – pouring tea into a big glass. Miss Helen hurriedly exits amid my laughter.
Keep ’em going! cheers Three. I do not know whether he means stories or pregnant women, so I continue my tales.
Working for two bosses – one fast-balding and thin, one fast-talking and fat – I cannot help but feel I have seen them before.
Laughs Three, Laurel and Hardy!
One of Hardy’s favorite unkindnesses is tracing his finger across the growing chrome on the back of my formerly curl-conquered head. “Gettin’ sparse, Black,” he says, and roars at his humor.
Driving to work a day later, I pass a huge snake at the road’s edge. I reverse, stop, pop out and nudge the serpentine giant. Alas, he is dead.
Or a superb faker, reminds Four.
Pick him up and follow my lead, laughs Six maniacally.
Two hours later, a shout splits air outside our company entrance. An equally loud whump suggests less-than-heavenly bodies are discovering gravity.
Hardy bursts into the office. “I – I jumped!” he gasps, a vision I find amusing. “Did any of you – that big – out there – the snake, all coiled?
“Oh. Found my ‘curls,’ did you?”
Shoulders sagging, Hardy knows he’s been had. Which leads to my final payback.
Newlyweds Travis and Carol welcome me to their home when I move to Ohio. Though I wish I were not infringing upon the time they might otherwise use for –
– strengthening their married friendship, I am grateful they provide a home and tasty meals until I find work.
That is, I am grateful until I realize August heat makes my upstairs room an oversized roaster.
Feelin’ the Pillsbury Doughboy’s pain? asks Five.
Worse yet, street noise slices right through the walls, even with windows closed. Exhausted from painting houses all day in high temps, I finally drift off. Troubled dreams endlessly parade ice cream trucks, cooling wares so tempting. But then a real ice cream truck, its mind-numbing melody shattering my sleep, passes our home.
I slide out of bed, glare through the window. No evidence of such a vehicle in the street. Knowing how such trucks circle their innocent prey, I vow to remain awake until the driver returns.
We’ll give him a piece of your mind! threatens Six.
But I fall back into dreams. And the truck returns, its silly song snatching my sleep as it seduces schoolkids. Time after time, the pattern repeats. Shortly before an alarm is due to awaken me for what was planned as a first alert, I roll over in the spacious bed –
And hear the truck! says Four. But facing the window, you clearly see no Vanilla Villain rolls by.
Screen Five weirdly suggests I lift the heavy mattress off the box springs. A musical doll, squeezed by the moving mattress, sings forth a tune dangerously similar to the ice cream truck’s.
At the next night’s wondrous dinner, I ask Travis what he knows of this doll and its placement. My friend’s uproarious laughter is sufficient reply. To this day, he believes I cannot pay him back for his less-than-practical humor.
Foolish fellow. He forgets Miss Laura and I grant him one free weekend a month to woo his still-lovely-as-a-newlywed wife.
Is that to make up for all the romance you cost them when they first married? asks Two.
We do so by taking his four lovely, lively, laughing daughters into our care. Oh, I would never withdraw our offer. We live for our moments with the pleasant youngsters.
And 48 hours … month after month? snicker six screens. Plenty of time for molding impressionable minds!
Postscript: Lest the column end on a dark note – ADHD somehow does not win – I share this victorious story of wildlife wars.
Thunder, our German shepherd, and I walk a lonely country lane in late-night Washington State. Coyotes howl, swiftly closing the gap between us. Retreating up the ridge, we hear a second coyote pack approach and know we, whimpering, are flanked, foiled, food.
Rubbery legs take us home to hearth, health – and hyperfocus, as the screens combine to plot payback.
Up early the next morn, we – screens and carrier – sneak into my huge backyard bordering 11,500 wildlife acres. Three carefree coyotes feed on field mice and play like pups.
Eyes alone visible, I allow Six to repeat his previous night’s “Lord of the Apes” call. Coyotes cry, careen, crash and cruise like jets to the distant hills.
Paybacks. They do a body good.
* * * * *