My dad and I were sitting in the hospital--Northwestern's department of neurology. I was getting tested for dyslexia, or attention deficit syndrome, or, as my dad put it to the doctor, "Whatever you think might be appropriate."
I didn't mind this testing because I got out of a day at school, and I hadn't finished the chemistry lab that was due that day. Also, I'd have an interview with the neurologist, and I liked these kinds of interviews because I had been to so many head people that I could always impress them with succinct and insightful synopses of my life.
But the interview never happened. What happened was first, she interviewed my dad. It was long, and I got through two acts of "Macbeth". Then my dad came out, and she called me into her office. "What are you reading?" she asked.
"'Macbeth'. It's the Folger edition because I like having the definitions," I told her. I always avoided one word answers with head people--they like long ones.
"Are you reading it for school?"
"No. We read 'Romeo and Juliet' in school, and I really liked it, so I thought I'd read something else by Shakespeare." Just when I was gearing up to tell her my life story, she called my dad in to join us.
She told him that I seemed fine to her, and she wasn't sure why he wanted me tested. My dad told her that the family had been having lots of problems with me, and he didn't know what to do. He started crying, so of course, she asked me to leave the room.
I read two more acts and then the tests began.
She laid me down on a table and put Vaseline in my hair. Then she put all kinds of discs on my hair so that there were cords coming out of a machine and going into my head. It was exactly like "ET", at the end of the movie, and I got excited about describing this to the kids at school.
I lay there for about five minutes and then it was over. We waited around a little longer, until the neurologist brought us into her office and told us that my results were fine.
My dad said, "Oh."
I said, "Can I have a copy of the results to show my homeroom teacher? Because my dad wrote a note to excuse me from school today, but the day I stayed home because the police were there, my dad lied to my teacher, and she found out, so I need some kind of proof that I was at the hospital today."