So I’m sitting on the platform of a train station in France. My husband and I are trying to get to Paris from Provence, a problem we should all have on a regular basis, right? We have way too much luggage, so St. Bob piles our bags about 3 feet from the tracks and tells me to sit on the luggage and wait. He’s going to go to the ticket window and try to figure out which train we need to take.
Sitting still is an easy assignment for me; I brought along a novel. I pull it out and begin to read. The next thing I know, Bob is back and asks, “Which way did the train come in?” I look at him, puzzled as to why he is asking such an odd question. “What train?” I say.
He stares at me for a few seconds with “duh” in his eyes, then points behind me. I turn to look. WHOA-HO! Where on earth did that come from? There’s a huge, black train right behind me, as if David Copperfield himself has made it materialize there. But I’m pretty sure he lives in Las Vegas, so I quickly rule out this possibility.
“Seriously?” Bob is shouting. “Seriously? You didn’t even know a train pulled in?”
Now, in my defense, I was not given the assignment to watch for a train. My job was to sit on the luggage and wait, a task I have completed, thank you very much.
Bob is a cross between apoplectic and flabbergasted, now (possibly flabberplectic?) unable to fathom how anyone in their right mind (a clue not to miss, by the way), could be three feet away from a train and not hear it roaring into the station.
A tiny part of me wants to say, “Hey, if you wanted to know which way the train came in, you should have stayed here and watched for it yourself,” but I sense that I am going down in this battle, and waving that small of a pocket knife will not have much impact on his giant bazooka, already finding me in its cross hairs.
The explanation, of course, is a quasi-medical one, that I have ADD and its attendant hyperfocus that keeps me from noticing bombs going off, people screaming, or trains pulling into stations if I am already engrossed in another activity. Like reading. I’ve never been diagnosed, but it wouldn’t take a genius to identify the symptoms. There’s a documented case of a woman who was so absorbed in a paper she was writing that she didn’t notice her house was on fire and her kitchen was engulfed in flames. Firemen found her working away, oblivious. If you don’t believe me, read about it here: http://add.about.com/od/adhdthebasics/a/Hyperfocus.htm. Was this woman me? No, but it could have been, easily.
“You have no idea the tortured life I lead,” I say, trying not to laugh and instead, to sound truly sorry.
“You don’t have a tortured life,” Bob says. “It’s the rest of us who are tortured—it’s like you’re on vacation every minute!” Yikes. Busted. He is right, of course (are all writers like this?) And, technically, I am on vacation, but I choose not to point this out.
Two weeks ago a friend sent me into the house for a box and I never came back. It was like an obstacle course filled with distractions (making cookies, for one) and after ten minutes he came in at which point I screamed, “The box! Yes! I’ll get the box right now!” aghast that I had forgotten it.
Bob forbids me to answer the phone (I do it anyway; call me and you’ll see) because he’s sure the conversation will go like this. Caller: May I speak with Bob? Me: Bob isn’t here. Caller: Oh. Well, then, can you take a message? Me: I’m not allowed to take messages. Caller: Why not? Me: Why what?
On the other hand, if you have something you want me to read for you, believe me when I say you will have my complete and total attention.
Here we are in France, before and after Bob has forgiven me. Provence at the top, then touring Paris, then meeting up there with our good friends, Bob and Karen Rogers.
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