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! And know these accounts are true … without exaggeration!]
“I know this is kind of strange timing, what with you recovering from The Accident,” says the voice on the phone, “but I thought you might like to get away from it all.”
“And do what, John?” I ask my friend.
“Camp with us in the Death Valley Desert.”
“John, my equally ADD amigo, did you forget I’ve only just now gotten out of the shoulder surgery brace?”
“We think you can do it.”
Think? repeats Screen Six in disbelief. THINK? We were born for this, Boss! The desert’s very name calls to us! Don’t even try to say no!
The phone hums a nanosecond in our deep, thoughtful silence, then carries my words, “I’m in!”
“Great!” replies John, and launches into descriptions of the experienced men who will camp with us in this “unforgettable” time.
The day rolls up, our long drive filled by familiarizing talk as we get to know one another. Small caravan arrives. Huge, brilliant sun descends.
And out on that desert, whistles Three, it drops fast. So do the temps. I’ve got brain freeze!
I, chilled one-armed bandit, rummage through packed bags at high speed. Finding jeans and sweatshirt, I wiggle out of shorts and cutoff T-shirt and tug mightily at the warmer clothes refusing to engulf my cold body. Hungrily joining John at his fired-up grill –
Yes, says One, he set that up first. This is how MEN camp!
– I tap my hands against the metal, trying to gain heat but avoid burns. As we talk, John accidentally knocks a sizeable piece of semi-cooked steak to the ground. I bend to pick up the meat, but it disappears in the midst of a whooshing sound. “What – what WAS that?” I gasp.
You, coming in second, remarks Five. To a bat-eared fox. Desert denizen and crafty little guy.
Fearfully I look to the edge of our encampment and see one set of glowing eyes, grateful no more appear. Later, six screens replay the image as I attempt sleep on an inflatable mattress. (Considerate John packs the vehicle with many comforts for me, but never jeopardizes our “Guy Club” rating.) Too bad dreams are destroyed by my own sleeping bag (rated worthy of temps “all the way down” to 40 degrees, which is way above what temps actually are), aching rebuilt shoulder and screaming bladder which will not be ignored.
Having delayed the inevitable night-time trip (one of several), I sigh in regret, struggle into winter clothes and wander out onto the desert tundra.
Desert tundra? laughs Three. Bit of an oxymoron, you think?
“Should just wet the bag,” I mumble to no one in particular. In idle contemplation, Four says, A tiny bat-eared fox boldly strolled among you men. What would the region’s mountain lions do?
Bladder empty. Like that.
Life-giving rays roust me the next morn, prompting a return to shorts and T-shirt. Screen Two wants to stay at the morning campfire, soaking up hotcakes, cocoa and camaraderie.
Not Screen Six. See those distant foothills, Black? That’s where we’re bound.
Camp discussion about my proposed venture is brief but animated – “Alone?” “Directionally challenged!” “No common sense!” Hesitation evaporates faster than morning dew when I flash the big scuba knife strapped to my leg.
You would hurt your friends? asks confused Two.
“Fine, then,” concedes John. “You do have a weapon for self-defense. But set a series of timers on your clever watch.” He laughs. “You and I both know we never pay attention to the first few chimes. Be back by 1:30pm for lunch.”
I agree. But John makes me give my word. I do, and go walkabout.
A powerful roar –
Mechanical, not feline, clarifies One.
– interrupts my walk as an Air Force jet blasts overhead, not 200 feet off the ground.
Bladder empty? asks Five. Like that?
I do and soon spot my first Stealth Bomber ever.
Must not be very stealthy, whispers Two.
But I am. Stealthy, I mean. And observant. Because next I see fresh red clay dug out of a rocky hilltop. Low-power binoculars suggest a possible cougar’s lair. Six calculates the travel distance at four minutes. I take a deep breath, pull my knife from its sheath and –
Timer beeps. Go, go, go! scream six screens. You can check it out, then run all the way back to camp – camp which I cannot see, even from this elevated vantage point – and John won’t know we didn’t come the moment a stupid watch squeaked!
Beep, beep, beep! go the second and third timers as I make my wobbly way to the desert floor, eyes glued to the alleged lion lair off to my left. Screens protest loudly.
“Guys,” I say in despairing tones, “I gave John my word.”
Yes, screens agree, but you always forget stuff. Tell him that’s what happened.
“That I forgot three alarms – make that four, since it’s beeping again – went off as reminders? Can’t do it.”
So you’re heading back? That’s it? I nod yes. Then we’re not talking to you.
And they don’t, for almost 50 paces. Snapping silence, Six murmurs, Guessing those big rocks hide a lot of snakes. We should check!
Postscript: Of course, the “real elephant in the room” is this column’s decision not to comment on – you know, the bad luck day.
By saying you won’t comment on it, moans Three, you comment on it.
We’ll let the words of soft-spoken Sandy, my co-worker, deliver the winning statement.
“When my grandfather, who was sooo superstitious, woke up on Friday the 13th, he said, ‘Well, I hope we all make it through this day.’ He ended up dying.”
See you next week … maybe.
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Opening hearts (by simply opening doors)