Adult ADD (ADHD) makes for obvious disadvantages, some less apparent but equally meaningful advantages, and traits that can be positive or negative, depending upon the circumstance. Into that last category falls impulsiveness, and one of its manifestations is verbal. Personally, I have a long track record of blurting out statements that are unexpected and somewhat inappropriate but nevertheless true. (On a good day, they're even funny.) I'm about to do that here, but first some background is in order.
As a child growing up in Lewiston, Maine, I was an unglamorous klutz of Olympic proportion and a social misfit with a propensity for navel gazing. And since I hadn't yet found a reliable source of self-esteem, I spent a goodly amount of my childhood and early teen years unhappily at the very bottom of the social pecking order. This was long before Judd Apatow had arrived to glamorize the bottom of the high school food chain. All of that changed in a single act of impulsiveness.
My junior high school class had been on a field trip to Boston, taking in the usual historic sites - Lexington, Concord, the USS Constitution, Bunker Hill, etc. It was late in the day and we were heading home on Route 128, which passes near where my grandparents lived at the time. One of my classmates who rather enjoyed pushing me around for the amusement of others was bragging to everyone within earshot on the school bus about how his father so often took him to Boston. That seemed very impressive to a collection of twelve and thirteen year-olds. To bolster his credentials, this young gentleman - my personal tormentor - was pointing out sites along the road and inventing stories about all the great father-son bonding moments that he had enjoyed at them.
As we were passing an establishment that I remembered my grandmother discussing in animated tones with my parents, the bully of this story pointed to a bar called The Green Apple and related how his father liked to stop there for a drink before the two-hour drive back to Lewiston. Before I could think clearly about the consequences, I blurted out, "Why? Because your father likes male strippers." And indeed, the Green Apple was the very establishment that had so scandalized my grandmother when it had recently added 'exotic' entertainment.
In the aftermath, a very brief hush settled over the students around me, and I was certain that a torrent of unpleasantness, commencing with a bit of corporal retribution, was about to ensue. Instead, a good half of the bus roared with laughter, and my tormentor, revealed as a liar or the son of a man who liked male strippers positively withered. No beating ensued. In fact, this particular antagonist receded from my life forever. I was shocked, but I came to understand that sometime a bit of truth, revealed at the right moment is the best antidote to bullying.
With that life lesson in mind, allow me to share with you my first impression upon seeing Senator John McCain on stage with his newly announced running-mate Governor Sarah Palin. I thought that McCain looked like an old man standing with: (a) his daughter; (b) his nurse; or (c) a new trophy wife. And while none of these impressions reflect reality, they nevertheless made me see the proud Senator McCain as frail. I felt sorry for the two of them.
What's real is that the McCain election machine is acting like a bully: it's spending its time picking on trivial details like the backdrop of Obama's speech. The best antidote for such tactics is represented by the content of Senator Obama's acceptance speech in Denver. At the same time, I'm also free to confront the bully in my own fashion. So Senator McCain, please note that seeing you with your running mate doesn't make me want to vote for you; it makes me want to offer you a nice cup of hot tea and ask you to tell me stories about your childhood in the 1940s.
Follow Michael B. Laskoff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AbilTo