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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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Fragrant love  “Love stinks,” claims the J. Geils Band … and this time, they’re right!

“At last,” I sigh aloud in deep satisfaction.

“At last what?” asks my long-distance friend on the other end of the phone conversation.

“Spring,” I murmur in awe. “We’ve made it through yet another merciless Ohio winter.”

“I would hope so,” comes a reply bathed in dubious female tones. “It is April.”

She fervently contends North Carolina is the best residence for two Blackwells in their “later years.” I fiercely defend the Buckeye State. Our banter is so enchanting, the long-unseen sun so delightful, I ignore the tiny black kitten bouncing up to me as I sit upon solar-warmed porch steps.

Several moments into enduring my brilliant dismantling of Carolina, my friend hears an unexpected shout. “Problem?” she asks.

We instructed your eyes – such excellent peripheral vision! – to send a clear signal to your brain, explains Screen One.

But you chose not to heed the message, sighs Two.

And now, adds Three, you are going to pay.

With a single glance, I understand. Frozen, silent, fearful, I study my sprawled legs.

Good ol’ Mephitis mephitis returns, states naturalist Five. That’s Latin for “double foul odor.”

Cute“Skunk?” repeats my friend. “You see a skunk? Is it close?”

I explain just how very close Mephitis mephitis is, but she misunderstands the almost inaudible response. “You say it’s two feet away?”

No, answers Screen Six for me. Between my two feet. Can’t get away.

Cruel Carolina cackling cracks the early-evening air wide open.

She is less than sympathetic, observes One. You may want to reconsider this friendship after we rescue you.

“How,” I whisper, lest this perfumed powerhouse grow annoyed, “do you plan to do that?”

Slowly, oh so slowly, suggests Five, draw your feet to you. Plant them firmly. Walk backward up the five steps. Enter your house.

Unshot, I make it to the door. Locked! wails Two in tandem with me.

My description prompts more telephonic laughter, intensifying as the tiny creature, white stripe signaling unwavering perseverance, claws at steps it has not climbed but soon will.

Jump, directs Six curtly. Right over the visitor.

“Not with this new titanium knee,” I protest, looking ’round to see if others in our once-peaceful neighborhood watch this tragedy.

Baby skunk pulls himself onto the first step. An unparalleled opportunity to observe wildlife, commends Five.

Commands Six, Now, Black!

ArmstrongI leap. That’s one small step for a skunk, pokes Three, one giant leap for –

Pain pulsing my right legs slices Three’s clever thought. I want to hop in place, catch my fleeting breath, fight the waves of nausea, but the pursuing polecat exits the step, too. Ground-bound once more, he playfully dances my way.

Exit, stage left! shouts Three in the Snagglepuss voice my brother Jeff so often mimicked. I whirl and step and tilt and correct all at once, a difficult task for balanced humans.

And a Herculean labor for imbalanced you, applauds Two.

“Get away?” the voice eagerly asks my ear as feet round the corner of the house, then slap brakes in shock.

What are the odds, marvels One, that you would evade baby … and encounter mama?

Laughter, the kind that flows forth from a woman gone hilariously mad, escapes the receiver.

Black, counsels Six, hearing gal pal’s dissing and big skunk’s hissing, it is clear to us that you are going to be sprayed.

“Suggestion?” I ask with hope.

Hold the phone against your chest and smile. Let your friend take the blast with you.


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Postscript: At 4am this particular Wednesday, I am simultaneously enjoying my morning walk and “sidewalk shopping.”

Dumpster diving, clarifies Screen Three. Rummaging through neighbors’ refuse.

I see one trash bag partly torn, its contents spread on the driveway. As I lift the bag, something shifts the weight. My free hand withdraws my high-powered flashlight from my pocket and shines on the two glowing eyes of a very, very large and very, very possessive skunk. He is swinging from the bag while his teeth remain clamped to some prize within.

We reach an agreement – I’ll put him down gently if he’ll refrain from using his six-shooter – and we part ways, both shaking but neither worse for wear.

All’s well that ends smell, I always say.

* * * * *

This crowd earned stripe(s) …

Wonder where Manuela works now?