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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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sexy teddy   Why women think men will consider this teddy sexy is beyond me …

“It’s decided, then,” says R. Keith Walters, the newspaper’s executive editor. “Blackwell will check out the new lingerie store and write the holiday piece.”

They’ve got the bare necessities, hums Screen Three in his best Baloo.

“Wait, what?” I ask in disbelief.

“And take Pam with you.”

Bingo! cheers Six.

This cannot end well for a 24-year-old man relationally enmeshed with an unromantic, businesslike –

Chilly, observes One.

– woman who will be most unhappy about my “frivolous” Valentine’s Day assignment.

Be encouraged, whispers Two. This pain will pass. In just 24 more years, you will meet Miss Laura. She will be your beautiful, brown-eyed bride, an effervescent love in the champagne of life. He sighs heavily. Of course, that’s all decades away.

“No, no, no!” I shake my head emphatically at my boss. “I didn’t say I would visit the local lingerie lounge to write about skimpy red garments. And I sure didn’t ask you to send our staff’s prettiest reporter with me.”

“What did you do, then?”

“I came up with the idea for the article. That’s all.”

“Maybe,” smirks R. Keith Walters, looking over half-glasses in that irritating way he does when something is irreversible, “some ideas are better left unsaid.”

“Not doing it.”

You da manAre. Publisher likes it. And everybody else already has two assignments. You’re the man.”

That discussion ended 24 hours ago. Now, trying to summon the nerve to go inside, I stand with Pretty Pam outside a back entrance of the lone lingerie store in booming-but-never-bawdy Beckley, West Virginia.

“We can’t stay here much longer,” Pretty Pam pines. “It’s cold. And the store will close soon.”

“No,” I counter, “it won’t. They’re staying open extra-late tonight for ‘men-only’ shopping because the big day of Hearts and Hooey is tomorrow.”

Screen Five wonders, So what do people call this night, anyway? Valentine’s Eve?

Don’t have to stay long, Black, nudges Six. Ask your questions and scoot.

I do not remember stepping into the store. But, pokes One, you do remember the owner’s words.

“First we help the customer – tonight, Mr. Blackwell, that’s you – to choose lingerie best suited for his wife.”

Soothes Four, Life is good!

“Then, to certify the effect is what you’ve imagined, one of our ‘special sales models’ will put on the item or slip into the outfit.”

Life is over! wails Five.

“Clever!” exudes Pretty Pam. “That gives men an excellent look at what they’re buying.”

If you look, even peek, whispers Two, our eyes will never see again.

“Go ahead, sir,” encourages the entirely too cheery owner, “select something.” I look around at several men, all of whom eagerly hand scanty items to sweetly smiling sales clerks. My own panicked inactivity and zombie silence prompt the owner to suggest, “Soft panties? Perhaps a sheer, satiny teddy?”

CounterfeiterTeddy! repeats Six. That’s it! Tell your “business partner” this is your brother Teddy’s doing. Even the owner just said Teddy’s got something here named after him!

“And how do I, o knowing screens, explain that a brainy beauty has to help me cover this story?”

You aren’t man enough for the job? hints One.

The reverse psychology works. I pull something black off a hanger and wordlessly hand it to one of the “special sales models.” She holds it up, giggles and gently waves her fingers as they poke through what normally is a supportive chest structure. Assuring me she will be “back in a flash” –

Truer words never spoken, mocks Three.

She disappears into a fitting closet. I disappear in a fit.

Moving swiftly and laughing nervously, I, regional editor of Beckley Newspapers, shake the hand of a store owner who is both local lingerie legend and (up to now) consistent advertiser in our fine paper. Without another word, I –

Flee, marvels Six. Just nine minutes into the visual adventure of a lifetime, you flee, leaving perplexed Pretty Pam to apologize for your cowardice. What kind of article could you possibly write after that? We are creative, Black. But we’re not miracle workers.

No worries, replies Three. Keep the article focused and – he smiles – well, “brief.”


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Postscript: Different job, different Valentine’s Day. My boss proudly declares, “Phone lines in the new office should be set. Bring your handsets in and try them out at your desk. Blackie, you sit here. Or maybe Tina does. Don’t think it matters.”

Punching the pre-programmed “home” brings me a female “Hello?” on the other end. I deepen my voice and breathily boast of “brilliant” –

That’s your version, laughs Three.

– loving that looms just ahead. Then I follow Two’s cue: Hang up. Allow recipient to simmer.

Co-worker Tina walks in just as a call is put through to her. She answers, listens, gasps, hollers, “Who just mash-called my mom?”

* * * * *

Incredibly creative, clean, comedic Zach King

Valentine’s Day gone wrong

Valentine’s Day, Indian-style