Verbal Charades and ADHD

The Crank

While waiting for my shrink to digitally write out my meds for the next three months, I asked him a question. What amazed me was the cognizant answer. This new guy is great. He has knowledge and stuff—not like that last one. I spent my $125.00 listening to her bitch for 30 minutes. She had her loser daughter as her assistant. Imagine moving your business and not calling all of your regular clients to inform them. Then berating them when they suggest how a knowledgeable person might be better in that position. Headbob, followed by a “layta beeoch!”

Anyway, back to the current shrink. I asked him a question about memory retention. While I am only 57, I have noticed a steady and almost relentless decline in my memory, particularly names. The comedian Louis Black calls this phenomenon verbal charades. He said whenever he hit 60-ish, his friends got together to shoot the shit, but it eventually always turned into a game of, “Geeh, who was that guy in the movie with, err, whatshername? You know the one with the mole in that movie with the guy from Sopranos? You know.”

Yeah, verbal charades. I am now living the dream.

I wanted to know two things from the psychiatrist: #1 was WTF? And #2, “What can I do about it?” I didn’t think I was getting Alzheimers. I was told if you forget your keys, you’re getting old, but if you forget what keys are for, it’s Big Al time. I just think I’m a bit young for this shit (I say as I use my keys to try to start the microwave).

What the doc said to me makes perfect sense, but first some background info. I was a victim of what I call Galloping ADHD. ADHD stand for Attention Deficit—holy shit, it’s raining!

I was born with a-talkin’ and a-twitchin’ that never stopped. I had the attention span of the average little kitten. I was also, like the kitten, easily distracted by shiny objects. In my case, those shiny objects had four wheels and a V8. I finished High School in three years, with a N.Y.S. Regents diploma and an A average and never did homework. Not once-evah! I did the last period’s homework whilst listening to this periods work. The final period was always study hall, by design.

I was smart, but you had only milliseconds to get your point across to me before I was off to see the wizard. I actually attended college…for three days. It was just like High School, only LONGER. So fucking much for that shit. I eventually found the perfect job for ADHD’ers. Supermarkets. They needed people who could work for union scale, do everything ultra-fast, and do it so it looks like it was done right. Not necessarily done right, just the appearance of correctness would suffice. Oh, and just how many jobs CAN you start simultaneously and never finish? You’re hired!

It wasn’t until I visited a shrink with someone else that I found out I might have ADH— what the hell is that cat up to now?

I was 35, married, and finally given a name for my affliction. I was also given a remedy of sorts. Ritalin. This little pill saved my fat ass, it did.

I was told it would take about three weeks to see any difference. A lot of what I did in my job was repetitive, and this one day was no exception. As I was trying peal some labels off this roll for the cheese—sometimes these labels refused to obey my wishes—I would give the first one three tries and, if it didn’t come off, the whole roll got tossed. I had little patience. 1-2-3-toss, 1-2-3-toss, etc.

Well, this particular day I noticed my coworkers got very silent all of a sudden. As I turned around to see why, I see them all staring at me. My assistant Rob then leans over and with a look of utter astonishment whispers, “Hey Crank, do you see just what the fuck you’re doing?” I look down, and in my hands was a roll of labels.

There I was, like I had all the time on Earth, gently trying to persuade a deviant label off its roll.

After a few tears, I realized one thing: I had never made a decision not based on my ability to work around this friggin’ ADHD. It was another in a line of epiphanies. My life was going to change for the better. The Ritalin, and later Strattera, would bring me somewhere near the realm of “normal.”

Here it is 22 years later and my life did change. I now make a fair living at a computer—something that wasn’t possible for me back in the day. My attention span has improved drastically. There are still things I would not attempt for all the money in the world, but that list grows shorter by the year. Watching golf? There is not enough Ritalin on Earth for me to do that…likewise, sitting in traffic, long phone conversations, or reading complete Zano features. Naah.

But herein lies the return-ass-bite. As I age, the friendly new shrink told me, my short term memory would be the first thing to go, because it’s what I always had trouble with from the onset of my affliction. So I guess verbal charades is here to stay.

I now laugh at myself without having to look in the mirror. People will walk into work and walk over to me and start talking, all the while I’m nodding in agreement and taking notes. When they leave, my coworker leans over to me and asks, “You don’t have a CLUE who they were, do you?”

If I don’t remember their names by the time they’re ready to leave, I usually ask them, “How do you spell your name again?” Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I just know one thing. Getting old sucks ass. But it beats the alternative.

You know, the guy who dresses all in black, big scythe? He was playing chess in that Ingmar what’shisface film?

You know, whatshisname?

Crank

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