Wednesday, July 9, 2014

27 times what might have been.

I was told in 2007 I had adult-ADD/ADHD. This picture would seem to indicate I had attention deficit with just a touch of hyperactivity at a much younger age. I have a vague memory of taking medicine.

In the 4th grade when it came time to recite times tables I could only do a few then stopped. It was too much. Like that whole thing where you have to ‘just know’ left and right, but multiplied. This is common for ADDers. I forced myself to memorize 6x7=42. From there I could add or subtract one 7 or three 6s or whatever as required to figure the other multiples. With 9s I started with 3x9=27. It’s not just an odd number, 27 is genuinely odd. Three 3s are 9. Three 9s are 27. 27 has no 3s in it but 3 from 30 is 27. 27 is otherwise useless. No one picks up 27 eggs at the store. No ball player scores 27 on purpose. There is just something not right with 27. It just seems three 9s should come up more often than it does. 24, 32, & 36 get all the attention in that neighborhood.

I have more of the times tables memorized now but it’s still not really my thing. We went to about 72 in the 4th grade. 8x9. Is that right? 9x9 is 81. 81 has a statuesque quality to it but like 27 is somehow not right. (3x3=9, 9x9=81, 8+1=9).

My 5th grade teacher had each equation of the times tables up on the walls. I had learned the joys of being a smart ass and getting laughs in the 4th grade. My 5th grade teacher also had 16 classroom rules up on the wall (our school had very high ceilings). Each rule and equation was on what they call ‘Sentence Strips’ about 6 inches high and 24 inches long, strps of paper printed to look like a giant version of 2 lines of that grade school lined paper. Each was cleanly written out with magic marker. Breaking a rule the first time meant writing it Bart Simpson style over and over on the chalkboard. Subsequent breakage resulted in writing it on paper 50 then 100 then 200 times as home work.

My crime was mostly breaking the rule about not speaking unless you were called on. I tried to keep up but my smart mouth and breaking other rules, . . it got to be too much for me to do every night. This got me the precursor to what was later called a “time out”. Instead of having fun and playing at recess I sat with the other bad kids by the fence. My debt of unwritten sentences grew to the point every recess for the rest of the year was accounted for. Then lunch periods were included. His eyes then fell on the company of my evil fencemates being too fun. I also suspect that the principal expressed reservations about the lack of exercise I was getting. The next escalation of punishment was making me walk around the track instead of sitting by the fence with the merely disobedient kids. Besides losing a crucial year of learning socialization skills I never did learn my times tables. Forever locked alongside conflicted memories, up on a wall somewhere. Like in old westerns when they ‘break’ a horse, I was broken. I had the same teacher in the 6th grade. Like a broken horse I followed him around like he was my alpha desparate to please him, I never broke a rule that year. Probably why I am drawn to rule makers and highly judgemental people but at the same time have always felt like a lone wolf never an alpha or a beta. If this hadn’t happened I might be in prison today or a big time stand-up comedian, most certainly I’d have a different life.