Monday, February 26, 2024

Benji the Smuggler

 The meal I got from the rib shack included a slice of that cheap, white Wonder bread,  which was as dry as eating cotton. But the  meal wouldn’t have been complete without it.

Taking a bite of that bread made me think of Benji the Smuggler and that made me feel regret. Because Beni the Smuggler was the evening janitor at the state-operated boarding school for cripples I attended as a teenager. I call it the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT).

I graduated from SHIT 50 years ago so I imagine Benji the Smuggler is dead by now. And that's why the piece of Wonder bread made me feel regret because I suddenly realized that I probably never told Benji how he helped me get through my days at SHIT and how much I appreciate it. 

Because the food at SHIT was usually shit. And even if it wasn't, they served us dinner, the last meal of the day, at 4:30 in the fucking afternoon! So by 7:30 or so you were ready to gnaw your foot off.

Benji went to a place he called the Chicken Shack all the time on his lunch break. So quite often one the inmates would come up to him on the sly and say,
“Hey Benji. Can you go get me something from the Chicken Shack?”

Benji would grumble and say, “You all are gonna get me fired.”

Benji was right to be worried about that. Some inmates, like me, were put on diets the day we began serving time at SHIT. Being perceived as an accomplice to us in blowing our calorie counts for the day might be grounds enough for Benji to be fired. But even bringing in food for those of us that weren’t on diets might have been considered to be inappropriate fraternization with the inmates,

But for some reason, Benji always took the risk. After he grumbled, he’d come up to us on the sly and take our orders. And he’d return from his lunch break with our food shoved up under his zipped coat, like a smuggler.

The fried chicken came in a small, rectangular box made of thin cardboard, just like my meal from the rib shack. And always accompanying it was a slice of that cheap, white Wonder bread, that was as dry as eating cotton. But it was all quite delicious to me at the time. Benji the Smuggler really helped me survive adolescence and become what I became, because otherwise I might have starved to death at SHIT.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Cripples as Good Luck Charms

 I never wanted to be one of those mascot cripples.

You know what those are. They hang around some kind of team, usually a sports team. And the players and coaches let them hang around like they’re part of the team except they’re not really part of the team. The coach would never put them in a real game because, well, they're not athletes. If a coach puts a cripple in a real game that cripple would probably get killed and that would be a public relations nightmare.

I always thought that mascot cripples sent a bad message about being crippled to verts (which is what I call people who walk because it’s short for vertical). But I wasn’t exactly sure what that bad message was. Maybe the problem was that mascot cripples were supposed to “inspire” the players by reminding them that they should be grateful that they’re not crippled.

But I felt like there must be more to it than that so I looked up the word mascot in the dictionary and it said, “A person, animal, or object adopted by a group as a symbolic figure especially to bring them good luck.

I think it was the good luck part that never sat well with me. Because sometimes verts see cripples as a good luck charm, like a rabbit's foot. I don’t know what sort of good luck we’re supposed to bring. Maybe it all goes back to that stuff about us making them feel lucky that they’re not crippled.

Whatever it is, I don’t want anybody rubbing my head for good luck.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Dating While Crippled

 Nowadays there are online dating sites for cripples, where cripples can go to meet other cripples. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work. I don’t reckon there’s any enforcement mechanism in place to prevent interloping by verts (which is what I call people who walk because it’s short for vertical). I don’t reckon you need to furnish a doctor’s note or anything like that to be able to join.

I can see the appeal of a site like this to some cripples. Trying to date verts can be inviting a lot of rejection because a lot of verts don't think  cripples can be sexy.

There were no sites like this around back in the days when I was dating. (There weren’t that many dating websites at all back then because it was before the internet was omnipresent.) But even if there had been, I don’t think I would have signed up. My approach to dating was to cast a broad net because you never know. I was open to considering any woman who was a consenting adult and not a republican.

I probably would have thought that limiting myself to cripples offered no guarantee that dating wouldn’t turn painful. A lot of cripples seem like they don’t think cripples can be sexy either. A lot of cripples seem like they’ll only date verts. I find that to be rather sad. I feel like they’re trying to prove something to themselves and\or the rest of the world by demonstrating that they can snag a vert.

 But then again, a cripple like that would never sign up for a cripples-only dating site so maybe if I'm cruising that website at least I can feel confident that I’m in a place where everybody thinks cripples can be sexy.

It’s true that both women I’ve married have been crippled. But that’s not why I married them, nor do I think my being crippled was why they married me back.

I believe they were both the type of women who would think cripples can be sexy, even if they had been verts. There are some verts who are like that. And if I was exclusively cruising a cripples-only dating site, I’d be worried that I might be missing out on something.

I’m just glad I don’t have to worry about stuff like that anymore.

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Friday, January 19, 2024

The Battle of Cripple Creek

 It took some doing. The people of Cripple Creek did not want to change. But in the face of relentless protests, they finally capitulated.

The protesters were a pack of wheelchair people, blind people and people who walked using crutches, with some Down Syndrome people and epileptics mixed in. They called themselves  The Campaign to Abolish the “C” Word. And they descended upon Cripple Creek with but one goal in mind: to get them to change their offensive name.

Their opening salvo was a press conference which was held outside City Hall in Cripple Creek. Several protesters spoke of how they were teased as children by other children who called them the “c” word. They demanded that the name Cripple Creek be changed to something more dignified.

But the mayor of Cripple Creek balked. He said the name Cripple Creek was bestowed upon the beloved and nurturing creek by the first settlers who came to the area generations ago and that it endures as a symbol of the proud heritage of the citizens who have built the namesake town that sprang up around the creek. He accused the protesters of all being “outside agitators.” The Cripple  Creek Chamber of Commerce also balked. The chairman said it would “wreak havoc” upon the local economy to have to change the name of Cripple Creek Boulevard, Cripple  Creek  High School, Cripple Creek Savings and Loan, the Cripple Creek Diner and the Cripple Creek Nursing Home, just to name a few examples..

Public opinion was decidedly against the protesters. Townspeople spat upon them and called them terrorists.

So the protesters adopted more aggressive tactics. They put into play their "kamikaze” strategy, in which they jumped one by one off of the Cripple  Creek bridge into Cripple  Creek itself. Those that couldn’t swim drown.

This drew media attention around the world and forced the town council to hold an  emergency meeting. A resolution was put forth to “modernize” the name of the town and the creek itself to something “not offensive and dignified “ The resolution passed, even though the townspeople who packed the gallery jeered and someone held up a sign that said Over My Dead Body.

And that’s why Cripple Creek is now called Person Who is Differently Abled Creek.

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Monday, January 8, 2024

Big Cripple on Campus

 John the paraplegic was the big cripple on campus at the state operated boarding school for cripples that I attended in the 1970s (which I refer to as the  Sam Houston Institute of  Technology or SHIT).

Actually, John was more like the vice big cripple on campus. The actual big cripple on campus was Ron the paraplegic. Paras usually have muscular upper bodies because they push a wheelchair all day. You had to be that kind of cripple in order to be the big cripple on campus at SHIT. There was no election to obtain this most prestigious status. An unspoken consensus developed among the SHIT inmates as to who was the big cripple on campus, based on which cripple we all felt could beat the other cripples asses. (It was pretty much the same way a wolf pack determines its hierarchy.) And since Ron was even more muscular than John, everyone figured that he could beat John’s crippled ass, too.

But this cataclysmic clash of the titans was never likely to occur because Ron was a much more peaceful guy who didn’t seem too interested in fighting. If John was to challenge him to a duel, Ron would probably just chuckle, yield the title and roll away.

John, on the other hand, was much more of a boisterous bully. He acted like he was looking for a good excuse to beat everybody’s ass. One day I saw him with a silver ring on his finger and I feared that meant that he was setting me up for an ass beating. Because it looked exactly like my ring that had recently come up missing.

So I went up to John's table in the mess hall, very sheepishly, and told him that appeared to be my missing ring.

John said, “Man, I didn’t steal no ring! This is my ring!” He continued eating, acting like I wasn’t even there. I interpreted that as his way of telling me to either go away or get my ass beat. So I went away.

When I told my mother about all of this, she was livid. She told me to point out to her which cripple was John the next time she went to SHIT and she would rip the ring off of his finger.

But I never did that because the only fate worse than an ass beating was being shunned by the other SHIT  inmates for being a snitch,

I haven’t seen John since I graduated from SHIT nearly 50 years ago. But he didn’t end up with much in terms of spoils. It was a cheap ring. It probably turned his finger green. The red jewel atop the ring was probably a hunk of  plastic.

If I ever run into a crippled old man with  one arm, I’ll figure that must be John. I’ll figure my ring must’ve turned his whole arm green and he had to have it amputated.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Reasonable Cripple Accommodation

 I ought to be legally allowed to run around naked in public, And it ought to be socially acceptable for me to smell like a horse.

These rights and privileges ought to be bestowed upon me because I’m crippled. And being crippled makes it difficult for me to do a lot of the routine, daily tasks that are taken for granted by verts (which is what I call people who walk because it’s short for vertical). Take, for example, getting dressed. For your average vert, getting dressed is a simple matter of pulling on your pants.  But not for me. Nope,  I have to have someone come in every morning and pull my pants on me, get me out of bed, etc. I call the people that I've hired to do these things for me my pit crew. Their wages are paid by state funds.

So some days I feel like things would go a lot easier if I didn’t have to wear pants at all. After all, when you think about it, what’s the point of wearing clothes? I'm not a  nudist at heart. And I can certainly understand putting on clothes in order to be warm. But besides that, the reason we wear clothes is to hide our genitalia. And why is that such a big deal?

But I capitulate and  wear pants every day anyway because I don’t want to get arrested. But I sure would love it if I could reserve the right to go about my business pantsless on a given day if I saw fit. I could carry around a note from my doctor certifying me as crippled in case a cop sees me running around naked and pulls me over,  demanding to see my papers.

The same goes for taking a shower. That’s a big undertaking for me, too, because I  also have to have one of my pit crew guys help me do that. It sure would be nice if I could shower twice a month or so. But I don’t because if I do I’ll smell like a horse and that’s not a good way to make friends. 

Going pantsless and smelling like a horse could be considered to be a reasonable cripple accommodation for me. But I’ll never advocate for these changes in public policy because it  might  blow up in my face. You know how lawmakers are. They’re always looking for a way to save a buck. They might really like that idea and they’ll just change the law to allow certain cripples to run around not wearing pants and smelling like horses so they can cut off the money they use to pay people to be on our pit crews.

So if you know any lawmakers, don’t say a word about this.

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Saturday, December 16, 2023

Why I Will Never Wear a Toupee or The Cyrano de Bergerac Game

 A long time ago I  made a solemn vow to myself that I would never wear a toupee. I also swore that if I ever was going bald or if my hair was turning gray I would do nothing to conceal it. I would never spend a dime on baldness cures, hair-restoration treatments or dyes. The people who sell that stuff are just trying to shame you into buying their stuff.

I believe my strong conviction to these principles arises from the fact that I have been crippled for so long and cripples often have to play the Cyrano de Bergerac game. It's so tiresome. Cripples who have been involved in the dating scene probably know damn well what I mean by all this. It has to be tempting to put up a picture of somebody that’s hot and hide behind it until such time as you feel confident that the object of your desire is so smitten with you that no matter what surprises you reveal later they won’t be deterred.

The same thing often happens to cripples who are looking for a job or whatever. You wonder at what point you should spring it on them that you are crippled. But playing that game is much too stressful for me. I’d rather let people know right up front that I am crippled because if knowing that I am crippled is a deal-breaker for them, that’s good for me to know right up front.  Because knowing that they are that kind of person is a deal-breaker for me.

The same thing goes for being bald. You can’t keep wearing a toupee everywhere and forever. Sooner or later you’ll have to take it off and it won’t be a secret anymore that you are bald. And you shouldn’t be ashamed about being bald anymore than I should be ashamed about being crippled.

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