Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fuck You, Stigma



I decided it was high time for there to be a Smart Ass Cripple Pride Day. So I ran the idea through the proper approval channels here at Smart Ass Cripple, which means I put it before our one-person politburo consisting of me. I unanimously agreed with myself that this is a marvelous idea.

I also thought that there needs to be some sort of pithy, unifying theme for Smart Ass Cripple Pride Day. So I sponsored an essay contest inviting all elementary school kids to propose a theme for Smart Ass Cripple Pride Day. Well the response was overwhelming but the winning essay was submitted by 7-year-old Billy Hart, who attends Larry Fine Elementary School in El Paso, North Dakota. Here is what he wrote:

“My neighbor, Johnny, is my friend. He is in a wheelchair. But sometimes people treat Johnny different than they treat me. They don’t want to talk to him or they talk to him like he’s a baby. People are afraid of Johnny just because he’s in a wheelchair. Sometimes I go places and Johnny can’t go because he’s in a wheelchair and there are stairs. My mother says Johnny is treated unfairly because of something called stigma. Stigma is stupid. So I think a good theme for Smart Ass Cripple Pride Day would be Fuck You, Stigma.”

What a brilliant, perceptive kid, eh? It boosts my faith in the youth of America. So for penning the winning essay, Billy wins a free FUCK YOU, STIGMA t-shirt. He may only be in elementary school but he sure knows a helluva lot about stigma and how it works. He knows that the only way to deal with stigma is to poke it in the eyes. Duking it out with stigma is exhausting because stigma is a vicious, insecure little bastard that will defend its turf at all costs. It’ll kick you right square in the nuts if you turn your head for a second. So you have to be ready to kick it right back. There’s no negotiating with stigma. And you can’t run off and hide from it in a closest somewhere because that’s exactly what stigma wants you to do. You give it credence. If you run off and hide, stigma wins. Nope, the only way to subdue stigma is to relentlessly give it the finger.

So thank you, Billy, for creating the perfect theme for Smart Ass Cripple Pride Day. Now, on Smart Ass Cripple Pride Day, smart ass cripples and their friends and allies all over the world will proudly take to the streets, marching under giant banners and riding on festive floats that say FUCK YOU, STIGMA.

Some people may be offended by this but hell with them if they are. Anybody who doesn’t like it is a dirty stinkin’ stigma lover.


(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Contributing to the tip jar, purchasing books and subscribing through Amazon Kindle keeps us going. Please help if you can.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Chopped Liver



I’m insulted! I pass by this storefront that stands out from all the others surrounding it because the outside bricks are painted a bright and blaring yellow. The flashing neon letters in the window announce like an ecstatic town crier that this is an establishment where one can receive a car title loan. And painted on the yellow bricks, in letters that are invitingly cursive and also black so as to provide easy-to-read contrast, are the words Yo Hablo Espanol.

So since this is a title loan store, that means the target demographic is people who are so broke ass that all they have to their name is a raggedy-ass beater of a car. So in this case, what the words Yo Hablo Espanol essentially say is, “Welcome all our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters who have nothing but a raggedy-ass beater of a car to their name. Please come in. We’ll be happy to ream you, too.”

But on the front entrance of the store is a great big step. And that’s why I am insulted. The proprietor sees Spanish speakers as a market worthy of accommodation and affirmative gestures of welcome. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t begrudge them the equal opportunity to be exploited when their circumstances get about as low as low can be. That’s all part of the American dream. But what about cripples? What are we, chopped liver? Apparently if this proprietor thinks about cripples at all, he/she sees us as so thoroughly and irreparably broke ass that for us, owning a raggedy-ass beater of a car is but a pipedream. No need for a ramp on this storefront.

This is yet another graphic example of how insignificant cripples are to some people in the capitalist free market. Well whatever. They snub us at their own peril. Someday a new breed of shark will evolve with a highly-sophisticated olfactory that can sniff out fresh new blood. And then we’ll see a new chain of stores designed exclusively to reel in the really really really broke ass. These stores will be in strip malls around the country, nestled cozily between Dollar Tree and Dollar General and kitty-corner from The Dollar Store. They will be called something like The Social Security Store and their sole purpose will be to give cash advances on Social Security checks.

These stores will be accessible as all hell. There will be automatic doors. There will be sign language interpreters on duty 24/7. There will be a fenced-off area in every store with fake grass so guide dogs can take a leak.

Yep, the proprietors of these stores will have to kiss up to cripples big time, unless they want to go out of business real fast.


(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Contributing to the tip jar, purchasing books and subscribing through Amazon Kindle keeps us going. Please help if you can.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Just Another White Guy

A lot of times I’ve heard cripples say being crippled makes them feel invisible. But I don’t know about that. I think I’d feel way more invisible if I wasn’t crippled. Because if I wasn’t crippled I would be just another white guy. That’s a depressing prospect to me. I just don’t know if I would want to go on living if that was the case. It would take some major getting used to.

If I was just another white guy, I wouldn’t enjoy myself nearly as much when I go to Washington, D.C. to protest for my rights. Whenever I join other cripples protesting in Washington, D.C., in the lobby of our hotel there are hundreds of cripples zipping around. Also staying in the hotel there’s always a pack of high school students from Middleville, Ohio on a field trip. I’m always amused at the puzzled looks on their faces when they see us all, especially when they find themselves packed into an elevator with sweaty cripples returning from a day of protesting in the sun. I picture these youths returning to Middleville and someone asks them what they saw on their life-changing trip to our nation’s capital. And even though they saw the capitol and all the monuments and had lunch in the Rose Garden with the president and the pope, I picture that the first thing they say is, “You should’ve seen all the cripples in our hotel! There must’ve been a million of them!”

Cripples have that effect on people. Whenever a half dozen or so of us congregate, it looks like 600 of us. So if I want to organize a Million Cripple March, this is a distinct advantage because I don’t have to turn out a million cripples. All I need is about 20 or 30. And the news reports will say, “Police estimate the crowd to be about 2 or 3 million!”

If I was just another white guy and I wanted to organize a Million White Guy March, I’d have to turn out a million white guys or more. Of course one could argue that there is no need for a Million White Guy March. Point well taken. Whenever I walk down State Street, there are always people who stop pedestrians and say, “Excuse me, have you got a minute to help abandoned children?” Or to help LGBT youth or orca whales or whatever. No one ever says, “Excuse me, have you got a minute to help white guys?” There’s no need. One could also argue that a million white guys descend upon D.C. regularly. It’s part of a daily event known as the normal course of business.

And one could additionally argue that if I was just another white guy I wouldn’t have to go to D.C. at all to protest for my rights. Precisely! And that’s my point. Look at all the fun I’d miss out on. I know there are many guys who are just another white guy but still manage to live fun and fulfilling lives. To that I say hey, more power to them. But it ain’t the life for me. But I’m not about to be cured any time soon so I guess I can stop worrying about it.



(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Contributing to the tip jar, purchasing books and subscribing through Amazon Kindle keeps us going. Please help if you can.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Sympathy for Dick


It used to be that I could never understand why any guy would call himself Dick. Because any guy who called himself Dick had ample opportunity to avoid calling himself Dick. Because odds are 99 out of 100 that if a guy called himself Dick his real name was Richard. So he could just as easily call himself Rich or Richie or Rick or Ricky or he could stick with Richard. There are more variations on the name Richard than on any other sturdy American male name-- even more so than William with Bill and Billy and Will and Willie or Michael with Mike and Mikey and Mick and Mickey. (Smart Ass Cripple factoid #18: Did you know that Mickey Mouse’s real name is Michael Mouse? It says so on his birth certificate. Look it up.)

So when I made jokes about guys named Dick, I didn’t feel any guilt about it because I figured it was their own damn fault. It was a matter of free will. All humans have free will, especially in America, and we all must live with the choices we make. Anybody who calls himself Dick knows full well that in so doing he is painting a bull’s-eye on his ass for the jokesters.

But I’ve changed my mind. I think it’s because somewhere along the line I changed my perspective on this idea of free will. Somewhere along the line I guess I wised up about the bull shit notion that all humans are necessarily choosing from the same menu. For some guys, it may be their destiny to be a Dick. They may have very little control over it.

Like for instance, suppose a guy comes from a long line of Dicks. His father was a Dick and grandfather was a Dick and his great-grandfather was a Dick and so on and so on. Imagine how stressful it would be for this guy to call a family meeting and say, “I have an announcement to make. From now on, I will only answer to the name of Ricky.” He’ll probably be cut out of the will and disowned.

And even if a guy is perfectly free to call himself something other than Dick with little or no personal consequence, why should he? Are we all supposed to lives our lives so as not to give dumbasses ammunition for making jokes? Screw those idiots. Cripples know how that feels. A lot cripples just kind of mope around the house all day because they’re ashamed to go out where somebody might stare or make fun. At some point you just have to say screw those idiots.

The same is true for guys named Dick. I understand that now and I’m sorry for the jokes I made. I now see guys who call themselves Dick as men of great courage and conviction. I hope that very soon we live in a society where no man is ashamed to call himself Dick, even if his last name is Head.



(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Contributing to the tip jar, purchasing books and subscribing through Amazon Kindle keeps us going. Please help if you can.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Crippleyzed


A lot of times I hear pundits and anchorpersons and politicians say the world economy is crippled. I take offense when I hear that because it is a terrible, insulting misuse of the word crippled. They should be saying that the world economy is crippleized. Or maybe it should be spelled crippleyzed, as in paralyzed.

In a crippleyzed economy, most everybody, crippled or not, who isn’t rich lives like most cripples have been living since like forever. Cripples have such a hard time finding decent jobs that if they do find one they hang onto it like a neurotic octopus and never let go until it’s pried away from them. It doesn’t even have to be a decent job. Lots of cripples hang on tight to jobs that don’t even pay minimum wage. It’s perfectly legal to pay cripples way less than minimum wage in the U.S. Some cripples are paid less than a buck an hour. How it works is a company gets money and/or good publicity for hiring cripples. So they give a spastic guy a job threading needles. And then when all he’s managed to do by the end of the day is poke someone’s eye out they say he’s not “productive” and thus they can justify flipping him a dime, based on his lack of productivity.

Now of course there’s always the safety net. Ah but that’s like living on a fault line too. It may be Social, but it ain’t necessarily Security. It’s like trying to sleep on a hammock in a hurricane. You’re terrified that any minute now it’s going to snap and send you hurdling. But even if the safety net remains firmly fastened to its moorings, in order to remain cradled in its caressing arms you must constantly endeavor to honor the vow you made when you signed up for it:

Social Security: Do you solemnly swear to stay broke ass, completely broke ass and nothing but broke ass for as long as ye shall live?

You: I do. (Do I have a choice?)

And if all else fails, as a last resort cripples can always do what our crippled forebears did before there was even Social Security or buck-an-hour jobs. We can always join the freak show. That’s why I worry about those poor people who aren’t even crippled but yet are suddenly finding themselves trapped in a crippleyzed economy. It’s going to be even harder for them to survive because they don’t have the freak show option: “Ladieeeees and gentlemen. Step right up and see the amaaaazing middle-aged white man of average height and weight!” Who’d pay to see that?


(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Contributing to the tip jar, purchasing books and subscribing through Amazon Kindle keeps us going. Please help if you can.)

Friday, May 29, 2015

He is My Crippled Brother



Apparently there is a condition called gynecomastia where men grow breasts like women.

This must be a new malady that has popped up within the last 30 years or so. Because if there were males walking around with female breast when I was a kid I guarantee you I would have been well aware of their presence. Because I went to schools that were exclusively for crippled kids all the way up until I went to college. These schools were where they banished all kids who were even the least bit freakish. There were kids at these schools with giant heads and kids with tiny heads. Kids with missing limbs and kids with extra limbs. Kids with limbs growing out of the wrong places. Even if the feature that made the kid freakish wasn’t visible to the naked eye, he/she was still sent off to the cripple school. There was a kid with a prosthetic leg, but you’d never know it unless you walked up to him and knocked on his leg.

So any boy with female breasts would have been the first one sent to the cripple school, even if everything else about him was excruciatingly normal. And that kid would’ve stood out, even in the cripple school. He would have been a legend. Sad but true. So either there were no males with female breasts back then or they were so shunned that they were kept hidden away in dark closets.

And apparently if you have gynecomastia, there are lawyers ready, willing and able to sue the hell out whoever gave you the condition. In March, a Philadelphia jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $2.5 million to a 20-year-old man with autism from Alabama who said that as a result of taking their antipsychotic drug Risperdal he developed size 46 DD breasts. Now this is the kind of case that will give those who rant about "tort reform” a big old raging hard-on. They’ll say this is another example of how the definition of crippled has become so stretched that it’s now meaningless. Back in the good old days, we knew exactly who was crippled and who wasn’t, just like we knew who was a boy and who was a girl. The cripples were the ones in wheelchairs or walking with crutches or the ones with a long white stick in one hand and a tin cup in the other. But now even a man with female breasts can demand compensation for being crippled. Why? Nothing wrong with his arms or legs! No reason he can’t go out and get a job!

Ah but this man’s barriers are myriad. And these barriers are not the result of him having female breasts. They are the result of other people being freaked out because he has female breasts. Thus, he will face much banishment, for the same reason all the freaks were sent off to the cripple school. So on that level, he’s as much of a genuine, card-carrying cripple as the rest of us.



(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Contributing to the tip jar, purchasing books and subscribing through Amazon Kindle keeps us going. Please help if you can.)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Overcoming Overcoming


Here’s why stories about cripples who “overcome" bug the living crap out of me. When a person, crippled or otherwise, is praised for overcoming something, whatever it is we say they overcame is always something bad, right? I mean, we never say, “He overcame extreme wealth and good looks to become president of the United States!”

When cripples are praised for overcoming something, it’s always our crippledness we are praised for overcoming. So therefore the implication is that everything about being crippled is bad and awful and in need of overcoming. But there are many good things that come with being crippled. Like for instance, I get to cut to the front of lines a lot. I’m not sure why that happens. I don’t know whether the person waving me on through thinks I’m a VIP or a fire hazard but don't ask questions. I just shut up and go for it.

And I'm not trying to say cripples never have to overcome anything. Lord knows we do. But cripples never get praised for overcoming the shit we actually have to overcome. One of the biggest things I had to overcome was being shipped off as an adolescent to a crappy-ass state-operated boarding school for cripples, which I affectionately refer to as the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT). But I promise you if a Hollywood producer takes a notion to make a blockbuster movie about me, it won’t be because he/she sees it as “the inspiring story of a man who overcame being shipped off as an adolescent to a crappy-ass state-operated boarding school for cripples.” Another huge thing cripples have to overcome is all the bullshit of bureaucracies like Medicaid and insurance companies. First we have to fight like rabid wolverines to get them to buy us a wheelchair or some other piece of essential equipment and then when it breaks we’re dead in the water for six months while they make us leap through a million bureaucratic flaming hoops in order to get it fixed. This is a real, dramatic, harrowing, high-stakes struggle that cripples all over engage in every day. But I’ve never seen a blockbuster movie, TV show, book or anything else that professed to be “the inspiring story of a man who overcame all the bullshit of bureaucracies like Medicaid and insurance companies.”

That’s what I hate about that overcomer crap. It gives us another thing to have to overcome.