Sunday, March 21, 2010

I Thought I Was Playing It Cool

Probably my absolute favorite memory of myself as a kid was when I tried to have a grown up conversation with my uncle. I love it because I can remember what was going on in my mind as a child as well as now seeing it from an adult point of view.

My dad comes from a very large family. He has 13 brothers and sisters, so family dinners at Grandma's were always a little chaotic. This wasn't a full gathering; we were all squeezed together at the main dining table. I managed to secure my favorite place as usual. It was a chair just to the left of center on the long side of the table that was up against the wall. No one else wanted to sit there because once you got in, you were trapped for the duration of the meal. I, however, loved it because it was the only seat where you could get a direct view of the living room TV that remained on during dinner.

This was long before we knew I had ADD. Back then when I was in a crowded room, I couldn't filter out sounds. I heard every voice, conversation, word and noise at the same time, which was overwhelmingly difficult to process. It was easier to daydream and shut it all out which left me feeling isolated even as a young kid. I never knew what was going on around me and always had to play catch up anytime someone spoke to me. Hence my favorite TV chair. It gave me something visual to focus on so that I could block out the noise. In dire situations, I could blame the TV if I failed to respond to someone. Oddly enough, lack of noise could draw my attention. Which is why I noticed my uncle sitting across from me not saying anything.

He wasn't looking at me; he seemed not to be looking at anything. But, he did look kind of left out, so I felt obligated to talk to him so he would feel included. He was very grown up, in his late teens or early twenties, and I was only about six so I thought I should probably have a mature conversation with him. I didn't know what to say, but suddenly a commercial appeared on TV that I recognized. Since I never had a clue what they were talking about, It was obviously a grown up topic. I figured I would just ask the same question they always did and pretend to understand whatever answer he gave. So, I looked at him asked.

He stared at me for the longest time before he burst out laughing which silenced the rest of the room. For a while, people just stared at him like he had lost his mind since no one else was laughing or seemed to know what had happened. They kept trying to ask him what was so funny but he was laughing too hard to talk. Finally, he pointed at me and my dad asked me to explain. I shrugged my shoulders and said, "I don't know. All I did was ask him, 'What do you do when hemorrhoids flare up?'"

A few years ago, the memory, along with a sudden understanding, randomly came to mind. I couldn't stop laughing either.

1 comment:

  1. While I do not remember this, I too burst out laughing. When I began to read this I wondered what kind of conversation you would have had with an uncle. That was timeless and it might get printed in Reader's Digest.