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!]
We should catch up on our favorite blondie, suggests Screen Two.
“Great idea,” I reply, punching Leah’s number into the phone.
My high-school daughter answers, greets me pleasantly and launches into life’s latest details. As we talk, she sounds increasingly anxious. Finally she sighs and says, “Getting ready for junior prom, Dad. Don’t have much time.”
This is classic ADHD, laughs Five, our “disorder” at its finest moment. Leah talks on the phone while fighting a fire.
“So sorry, SweetPea,” I apologize. “You are extraordinarily calm. I completely missed all the cues.”
Is that the result of ADHD? wonders Three.
Or of being a dad? asks Four.
Maybe just being a guy, surmises Six.
Leah forgives my cluelessness. “But I welcome your call tomorrow night, Daddy.”
Laughing, I disconnect. As I start to putter around the kitchen – a dangerous place for an ADHD-powered man to “putter” – I think of my own junior prom.
Your memory can’t be all bad if you remember back that far, slings Three.
“You know as well as I do The Accident blew out my short-term and kindly left the childhood memories,” I chide.
Things are going well – my explanation of trigonometry won’t win contests, but Janet grasps enough to produce correct answers – until her house phone rings.
The caller is Miss Janet’s 23-year-old boyfriend, snarls Six. He sounds most unhappy that you are with his girl.
“You are right, Six. A week later, good ol’ Paul calls my own home and warns, ‘It will not go well for you when we meet.’”
Being the forgetful ADHD chap you are, says One, you set aside verbal hits from telephone twits and just get pumped for puttin’ on the Ritz.
At the prom, my date is dynamically dancing (I am arrhythmically prancing) when my peripheral vision and six screens announce the impending arrival of Miss Janet.
“Hi,” I greet this well-dressed classmate. “You look very nice.”
Seeming sad, she softly thanks me, murmurs “This is Paul,” and moves aside, allowing a tall fellow behind her to approach me.
Paul! shouts Six, sounding alarmed. Remember his phone call?
But Paul warmly extends his right hand. I grasp and firmly shake. More firmly yet, he grasps back, painfully locking my hand with his. Then Paul growls, “I’m Janet’s boyfriend.”
Grimaces Two, You actually see the jaw-rocking punch get delivered.
Your shocked date holds her face, sympathizes One, which is curious, since it is your face that aches.
We demand you return the punch, huffs Three, but you are not sure the fist of your 5’1” body will reach the chin of 6’1” Paul.
A plainclothes cop sees it all and, discovering I’m a minor, hauls adult Paul into a side room. Persuasive Principal Michael Carey begs me not to press charges and ruin a man’s life. I tenderly mouth rubbery chicken cordon bleu and remind him Paul, much larger, has ruined a man’s bite.
You do not press, spits Six, and Paul does apologize. But only because anything otherwise starts his jail term.
“Guys,” I say, recoiling, “how did we switch to this nightmare? Let’s dream of Leah’s good news in tomorrow’s call!”
Early Saturday morn. Every 30 minutes, six excited screens ask, Late enough to give her a buzz now?
I finally give in. “So, Blondie, how was prom?”
“Didn’t go, Daddy,” answers my youngster. “But I tried.”
Leah explains that she, her date and two other couples had set out for prom, driving in one of Florida’s legendary thunderstorms. But Boom! went the ongoing thunder, shaking them. And Boom! went the oncoming car, breaking them.
Marvels Five, I cannot believe how calmly your usually over-amped, ADHD-powered daughter is taking this.
The “jaws of life” are used to free the occupants of Leah’s car. Miraculously, no one is severely injured. Diligent police, having rescued the shaken passengers, gather details and send everyone home. At 3am. Way past losing glass shoes and seeing cars become smashed pumpkins.
Screen Two is deeply grieved for my youngster, but CinderLeah sighs wistfully, “A dance, Dad. Just junior prom.”
“You don’t understand, champ. I get this. My junior prom was a disaster, too.”
“Wow, tough to be you,” Leah comments.
“Tough to be you, having an accident and losing your special night.”
“No big deal, Daddy,” she assures, then repeats, “Just junior prom.” A moment later, she laughs and says, “Had this been senior prom, though, I’d have killed myself.”
Postscript: Miss Samantha, a lovely adult co-worker, tells me she can beat my prom story.
“I got ranked on some ‘Hot or Not’ website at a 7.5,” she sighs. “Voters said I had the body of a 12-year-old.”
My turn. “I asked a girl to dance. She answered, ‘I’d rather be mauled by a grizzly bear.'”
Sam fires right back, “I had to pay a boy to take me to prom!”
We’re both laughing very hard – it’s a tie – but I’ve saved my best. “I walk around a charity dance, looking for women still seated halfway through the eve. Approaching one and making conversation, I ask, ‘What would make your night?'”
She looks misty-eyed. “Anyone – just someone! – asking me to dance.”
“Please, then, dance with me.”
* * * * *
Janis Ian sings the pain of unseen proms
Maybe this is safer than dancing, eh?
A final Mom’s Day salute to all you patient matriarchs