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!]
Among the many difficulties associated with ADHD, a kind heart must be listed.
You mean an unkind heart? asks Screen Two.
“Nope. Kind. We really do have the best of intentions – ”
Those line a certain road, comments One. A very warm road.
“ – but things never quite work out the way we mean them to.”
That, laughs Three, could be the year’s understatement. Like the time you told that woman you would help weed her garden –
“And pulled up all her exotic flowers? Yes, that’s what I’m talkin’ about.”
I shake my head in regret as I remember the sputtering fury of that woman. She even makes me climb back into the dumpster and retrieve every one of those expensive plants. But when I offer to put them all back into the ground, she shakes even more and hisses through gritted teeth, “You’ve done enough to this day, Mr. Blackwell.”
Boss? asks Four, breaking my nightmarish reverie. Maybe you’d feel better if you thought about some other man’s mishap.
Six suggests Ted. Your next-youngest brother provides plenty of material.
“Good point,” I say, cheering up. “Ol’ Thor has a history of being the hit man of helping, doesn’t he!” My six screens heat up tasty S’mores around the cranial campfire and settle in for a good story, despite already knowing it.
Thor is a man in transition. He not only moves from Maryland to New York City but also prepares to start employment in the big city. To celebrate both –
That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for Ted, admires Two.
– Thor swings by our parents’ home in New Jersey, where he is honored with dinner and discussions of the great moments just ahead. During the meal, Doug Blackwell, present dad and brilliant former metallurgical engineer, less-than-brilliantly mentions he has in his possession none other than “Flat Kyle.”
Flat Kyle? queries Five. Is this a birth-related difficulty?
Flat Kyle, explains Dad, is a self-portrait drawn by his sister’s grandson –
Great-nephew, clarifies One.
You don’t know, contests Three. Could be a terrible nephew.
– who also is named Kyle. “Kyle asks that I take Flat Kyle with me. ‘Show him’ all around my job.”
Thor is beside himself. “I can do that for you, Pop!” he exclaims. “I’ll take him into the Big City!”
Dad’s horrified look is outdone only by the vigorous “no, no, no” motion of his head.
Gotta dig deeper, Thor, encourages Six. Ask your dad what interesting things he could possibly show Flat Kyle in the auto parts store he works at for a retirement job. Yawn!
“Think of it, Pop. I’ll take pictures of Flat Kyle near prominent New York landmarks – the Empire State Building allegedly climbed by King Kong, the subway beneath the waters separating New York from New Jersey, even where the giant ball drops in Times Square each New Year’s Eve.”
Every request Thor makes is met by this same denial and the same assertion – proven by the years – that something might happen to Flat Kyle.
Ted scoffs. Loudly. “What could possibly go wrong?”
Hahahaha! laugh all six screens. The classic line! This is how it starts! Lightning strikes the heart!
Dad, worn down by his son’s persistence and overflowing enthusiasm, reluctantly –
“Sadly,” I’d say, states One.
– hands over the white paper with its stick figure drawing. Even as Pop softly implores, “Please, Ted, be very careful with him,” Thor thinks, “Kyle, you’re going to have the time of your life!”
Sleep escapes Thor, excited about the next day. Flat Kyle is photographed boarding the 5:43am Erie Lackawanna train, leaving Summit, New Jersey and heading to glorious New York City. His image is captured on the subways, in the action-packed streets, beside the business offices near Broadway.
And still all is well? ask six amazed screens. Haven’t two hours passed?
Arriving at the office, Thor states, “Time for work,” which fools nobody. But he still digs into the piles upon his desk, somehow finding it noon when he next looks up. “Hmm,” he says (dangerously, because it indicates thought processes are occurring) and decides photos critical to Flat Kyle’s success must be taken from the south side of his office, 35 floors up.
Let Thor tell the story now! beg the screens. So I do, and he does …
I lean Flat Kyle against the window pane, step back to take a picture of him outlined against the magnificent Empire State Building … and see Flat Kyle impossibly begin to slip through a seam in the window.
I gasp aloud and run to stop him, but I seem to be barely moving. In slow motion, Flat Kyle exits the window and flutters down, down, down to the city below, distant dots representing cars and people going about their busy day.
Hahahaha! laugh six screens. Reality strikes!
Rolling repeatedly through my head are Dad’s mournful words, “Please, Ted, be very careful with him.” Racing to the elevator, I change my mind –
– and zip down 35 flights in mere minutes. Hitting street level, I set eyes to scan sky, hoping to see Flat Kyle float right above me.
But float he does not, sighs Three. Nor does he rest on car tops, awnings, curbs. Rescue is futile. He has been assimilated.
Six whispers, There are alternatives. Thor concocts just such a plan. He, heartbroken, turns from aiding recovery to avoiding discovery.
Counterfeit Flat Kyle is born. Maybe Dad won’t know it’s my own version. Maybe no one will recognize this Kyle is newer.
Maybe Thor’s shell-shocked, laughs Four. These are desperate times.
Overflowing with optimism, I fairly bounce during the long walk to the subway at which I’d only hours earlier photographed Flat Kyle.
“You won’t believe our adventures,” I boldly –
And truthfully! proudly adds Two.
– proclaim to both parents as I hand the counterfeit over to anxious hands. Mom gasps and turns white. Dad goes red instead. Angrily he growls, “Why did I ever let you take Kyle to New York, Ted?” as if I’d lost a cherished child instead of a daycare drawing.
Well, Blackie, calculates Four, this should guarantee you an increased inheritance portion.
Unsure of how to proceed, Dad sends the re-named Flat Kyle – New, not Counterfeit – back to Texas. Following up, I call Dad’s nephew –
Your first cousin, clarifies One.
– Brad and ask about their son’s response. “Tears,” replies Brad tersely. “But we tell our boy to think about the many adventures his Flat Kyle has had. We also cheerily assure poor Kyle he is the only kid in the class to get a NEW flat copy of himself.”
Bravo! claps Six and high-fives Three, the many numbers confusing them both.
“All’s well that ends well, guys,” I say. “Just not when it involves Blackwells.”
Which is why, comments One, for the safety of everyone, there should be two Flat Kyles roaming the world –
“But just one Teddy.”
Postscript: One of the teachers in a Kansas City, Missouri school must be doubly pleased the school year is over as she recalls first-day struggles with roll call.
My student’s name is spelled “Le-a.” I pronounce it “Leah.” Wrong.
The mother calls, furious because nobody correctly pronounces her daughter’s name.
I ask, “Well, how do you say it?”
She snaps off, “Ledasha!”
“What” I ask in disbelief. “Ledasha? How’s that?”
“The dash don’t be silent.”
* * * * *
Somali pirates get a huge surprise
Limitations? She’s never heard the word …