Tuesday, November 25, 2014

An Elite Twelvathlete

It’s hard to believe that Pavol Nezmysel is an elite athlete. He spent the first three years of his life in an orphanage in his native Slovakia. His biological parents abandoned him there as an infant because he was born deaf and blind and without any legs. He also has chronic eczema and is clinically depressed. Hell, with all that shit going on, who wouldn’t be depressed?

But Nezmysel was adopted by a Canadian couple, John and Mary Bland, who raised him to believe that in spite of his crippledness he could still achieve his dreams. And so he went on to become Canada’s most highly-decorated crippled athlete. But now, 20 years after arriving in Canada, Nezmysel is about to embark on a quest to accomplish what no other crippled athlete has ever accomplished before. And all the citizens of Canada are stoked with excitement and rooting hard for his success, because they know when a Canadian tries to do something big it usually doesn’t work out too well. Exhibit A: Look how they fucked up bacon.

But the biggest challenge Nezmysel faces is that it has become very hard to find something to do that no crippled athlete has done. These days cripples are even competing in the Iron Man Triathlon, where contestants swim 2.4 miles and then ride a bike 112 miles before running a 26.2-mile marathon, all within about 17 hours.

So Nezmysel has created the ultimate grueling athletic challenge known as the twelvathlon. After finishing all that wussy triathlon stuff, contestants must then dunk a basketball, kick a 40-yard field goal, jump on a horse and play a round of polo, perform figure skating and gymnastic routines, ski a grand slalom while singing the aria Ritorna vincitor! from the opera Aida and then wrestle an alligator. All this must be done within 12 hours. And in the twelfth and final event, which is perhaps the most brutal of all, contestants have five minutes to consume 50 hot dogs.

The Canadian government has announced that the first official twelvathlon will be held August 8, which is a national holiday in Canada known as “summer.” Nezmysel plans to be the first and only person to successfully complete the competition, or for that matter to even sign up for it. Right now he is relentlessly training.

But Nezmysel knows some day other cripples will successfully complete the twelvathlon and he’ll have to find a way to one-up them. That’s when he intends to become the world’s first reverse twelvathlete, which means he’ll eat the 50 hot dogs first and then go do all that other stuff.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

There Once Was a Little Crippled Boy Whose Mother Found a Dog

There once was a little crippled boy whose mother found a dog. It’s was a mutt, a charcoal-gray mop of a dog, its body the size and shape of a football. Mother named the dog Binky. She said it looked like a Binky. Because the little crippled boy was a sucker for dogs, he quickly fell in love with the animal and made it his own. And the little crippled boy and his dog lived happily ever after, for about a week.

Then, one day, the doorbell rang. Mother answered the door. In walked a man with a little boy who was about the same age as the crippled boy, except this boy wasn’t crippled. The dog saw the boy and ran to him. The boy scooped up the dog and hugged him joyously. “Hello, Spike! I’m so happy I found you!” he said. The little crippled boy was sad. The man thanked the little crippled boy and the little crippled boy’s mother for taking good care of the dog. The man, the uncrippled boy and the dog all left.

But then, about an hour later, the doorbell rang again. It was the man holding the dog in his arms. The little uncrippled boy was not with him. The man told a harrowing tale about how, when they brought Spike back home, this greatly rankled the new dog the family acquired to fill the void created by Spike’s sudden departure. A vicious dogfight ensued. Therefore, the man returned Spike to the sole custody of the little crippled boy. The man wished all Godspeed and departed, never to be heard from again.

The end. Until about 20 years later, when the little crippled boy was a full—grown man (FGM). In fact, he was part of a pack of badass crippled protesters who disrupted public meetings and got arrested for blocking streets and snarling traffic. One day, whilst wistfully reminiscing with his mother about family dogs past, he remarked what a stroke of good fortune it was that Spike clashed with the previous family’s new dog. Mother shot him one of those mother looks that says, “Do you really still believe that bullshit story?” Mother then proceeded to recount from her point of view the story of the night Spike was briefly taken away. The events were exactly as the FGM remembered, except for the part where as the little uncrippled boy left with the dog, the littlie crippled boy sobbed and sobbed, almost to the point off hysteria. The FGM had no recollection of behaving in that manner. Perhaps he had blotted it out of his mind.

The FGM was mortified. As he pictured his child self crying inconsolably, he said to himself, “Damn, that was some big time Tiny Tim shit!” And he realized that somewhere on the loose out there was an uncrippled FGM who was the victim of his tantrum.

To this day, the crippled FGM still wonders and worries whatever happened to--- oh screw it! I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that the little crippled boy was me, dammit. And when that kid’s dad made him give up his dog for me, surely that tainted the kid's view of cripples for life. How did his resentment manifest itself later in life? I bet today he owns a chain of nursing homes and exacts his revenge on cripples by locking them up and intercepting their Social Security checks. Or maybe his seething, obsessive rage for cripples took the form of seething, obsessive pity for cripples. Maybe he’s one of those people on the street who drops a dollar in a passing cripple's lap like we're all beggars or who tries to cure us with the word of the Lord.

I fear my tantrum is having a destructive ripple effect on my fellow cripples even today. That Tiny Tim shit can be downright lethal.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

If I was a Little Person Watching the Kentucky Derby

If I was a little person, I don’t think I could watch the Kentucky Derby without getting all pissed off. I’d watch the winning jockey soaking in the adulation and I’d really want to celebrate the success of one of my own. But I would succumb to resentment because I couldn't ignore the potential political consequences of this moment. I’d know that somewhere out there some people are using this moment to reaffirm to themselves and others that there is no such thing as tall person privilege. In America, even a little person can make it big. All they have to do is try.

And I would know that this is all a bloody goddam lie. I’m not lazy and shiftless. I just can’t ride a horse going full gallop, which makes me like 99.9999999 per cent of little people or people in general. The existence of a few rich jockeys doesn’t let tall people off the hook for examining and dismantling the tallcentric society we live in! And now this guy wearing satin knickers and a beanie is only going to make it harder for our marginalized voices to be heard!

I know myself well enough to know that’s how I'd be. That’s one of the suckiest things about being crippled. It’s hard to cheer on your crippled brethren because doing so can be a slippery slope.

And if I was a little person, I wonder how I’d feel about robot jockeys. In the parts of the world where camel racing is a hot sport, these days the camels are almost always ridden by little robots specially designed for that purpose, instead of by little people. No doubt this will soon be the case with horse racing. If I was a little person, part of me would be saddened and outraged seeing a long line of forlorn jockeys at the unemployment office. But a part of me would say, “Welcome back to the ghetto, boys. Don’t worry, we’ll still take you in.”

But there is one employment advantage little people have over other cripples. I bet they have an easier time finding acting jobs. But that’s only because it’s a lot easier for a Hollywood producer to stick a big fucking star like Denzel Washington in a wheelchair or give him sunglasses and a white cane than it is to turn him into a little person. Although in the movie Forrest Gump they amputated the legs of Gary Sinise using computer tricks. So I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they’ll use computer tricks to scrunch Denzel Washington down into a little person. And then Denzel Washington will win an Oscar for his amazing portrayal of Rumplestilskin.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Magical Healing Properties

Well now it appears that there’s a miracle treatment on the horizon for autistic people. But it involves consuming a shitload of broccoli.

I’m not kidding about this. It’s all true. It wouldn’t be nearly as funny if it wasn’t true. If you don’t believe me, check out the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences when it arrives in your mail. Apparently researchers fed some autistic people big doses of sulforaphane, which is found in broccoli. And a lot of these autistic guinea pigs showed dramatic improvement in their communication and social skills. I’m not sure how the researchers measured that. Maybe it was a Pygmalion sort of thing. Maybe the subjects started off all autistic and shit and after they consumed a whole bunch of broccoli over time they could recite “the rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain” and they had perfect table manners. Or maybe it was more of an instant Popeye sort of thing except with broccoli instead of spinach.

But my question is why is it that when scientists discover that a certain food has magical healing properties, it’s never a very interesting food? Why don’t they ever find magical healing properties in something like lasagna? I have nothing against broccoli. I eat a fair amount of it. And the subjects didn’t get their sulforaphane from eating tons of broccoli. They took a broccoli extract. But that’s my point. If it was lasagna, they wouldn’t have taken a lasagna extract. They would have eaten lasagna straight out.

The researchers found that once the subjects stopped consuming sulforaphane they reverted back to their old autistic ways. So now autistic people face that classic dilemma every genre of cripple faces sooner or later when some trendy cure or treatment pops up. How many flaming hoops are you willing to leap through in the name of becoming less crippled? Some cripples would eat bricks and wrestle polar bears all day if it might someday up the road make it easier for them to wiggle their toes. Some cripples wouldn’t cross the street if doing so would transform them into a track star. So how many autistic people will make the commitment to consume tons of broccoli and broccoli extract forever? That’s a big commitment.

And you know how these miracle drugs are. There’s always a huge side effect that emerges eventually. In 10 or 20 years we’ll find out that eating too much broccoli makes your scrotum fall off or something. And then a whole new breed of ambulance chasers will arise. Not too long ago I saw a big sign on the side of a city bus that said: Injured? Call 999-9999! Then I saw a big sign on the side of another city bus that said: Injured? Call 222-2222! Then I saw a big billboard that said: Injured? Call 444-4444! It seems there’s a bloody lawyer turf war going on. So maybe in 10 or 20 years on the side of a city bus we’ll see: Scrotum Fell Off? Call 666-6666!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

In a Turmoil Over the Special Olympics

I admit I’m all in a turmoil when it comes to the Special Olympics. On the one hand, there’s something anachronistically patronizing about it all. When I think of Olympic athletes, I think of Michael Phelps and LeBron James and whichever Kenyan won the last marathon. And let’s face it, if the Special Olympians took on those Olympians, the Special Olympians would get whupped.

On the other hand, so fucking what? The Special Olympics is people getting together and having fun. What’s wrong with that? Isn't having fun what sports is supposed to be all about? What kind of elitist prick am I?

On the other hand, everybody wins in the Special Olympics. If you don’t get a medal you get a ribbon or a certificate suitable for framing. And everybody gets a hug. But that’s not how life works. Everything in life isn’t one big happy tie. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Better get used to it. I’m sure Special Olympians can handle that reality. No need to shield them from it.

On the other hand, so fucking what? Isn’t that a nice break from the hypercompetitive dick-sizing that causes soccer fan riots? I don’t think there has ever been a Special Olympics fan riot. And people don’t turn over cars and set them on fire in gleeful celebration when their Special Olympics team wins either. And what wrong with ties? I call myself a socialist, don’t I? Isn’t that what socialism is all about—making sure the game ends in a tie? Or maybe that’s not what socialism is all about. I don’t know. I’m all in a turmoil.

On the other hand, if you can’t swim as fast as Michael Phelps or throw a javelin as far as Trinidad’s own Keshorn Walcott, isn’t it best to proudly own that deficiency? Because hell, there’s a whole lots of things you can do that they can’t. And you don't see them crying about it. So why try to be something you’re not? Why not be who you are? Back when I was in primary school for cripples, I was in the rhythm band. I played sticks. I banged two black wooden cylinders together. Other kids played stuff like shakers and triangles and bells on a bracelet. All the crippled kids were in the rhythm band whether we had any rhythm or not. There were spastic kids and kids with no arms. There were two kids who could only move their heads so they sat next to each other, each with a cymbal strapped to the side of their head. A teacher stood behind them and when the cymbal part came around the teacher banged their heads together. Okay, I made that last part up, but the point is neither I nor most of the cripples in the rhythm band had a lick of rhythm. I can’t even play a fucking triangle. But who cares? I’ve moved on. So why try hammering a square peg into a round hole?

On the other hand, who the hell died and left me in charge of deciding who has rhythm and who doesn’t? If you put a bell bracelet on a spastic kid and turn him loose you might hear things that give rhythm a whole new dimension. So maybe that’s what Special Olympics is trying to do. Maybe it's trying to redefine my stodgy old notion of what an athlete is. Maybe I'm the one that's stuck in the past!

On the other hand, oh hell I give up. I’m in such a turmoil.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Breaking My Father's Heart

We’re overdue for one of those father and crippled son stories in the press. One of those stories seems to pop up every year or so. Father and crippled son embark on a journey to raise awareness and inspire people. A father runs a marathon while pushing his son in a wheelchair. A father runs across the Great Plains with his crippled son strapped across his back. In towns along the way citizens hold rallies to cheer them on.

These stories make me think of my father and the relationship we had, which was pretty much zero. My dad wasn’t around much. We knew he was still alive when his monthly check arrived. One year I decided to send him a Father’s Day card. What the hell, I thought. Why not? So I set out in search of a card to express my sentiments. And boy did that turn into a task. One card said, “Happy Father’s Day to man who is always there whenever I…” Nope, can’t buy that one. Another card said, “Happy Father’s Day to a man who is my hero and…” Nope again. Nope nope nope again and again until I finally found a card that said something like, “Happy Father’s Day to a man who is… a father.”

Having a pretty much zero relationship with your old man sucks. I don’t recommend it. Don’t try it at home. But these father and crippled son stories make me realize that it had its upside. There was no chance in hell of my father ever saying, ”Hey sport, let’s run a marathon!” I’m so grateful for that, just like I’m grateful that my father never had a family business called Ervin and Son Funeral Home that he dreamed of turning over to me someday. In either case, I would have had to break my father’s heart by telling him thanks but no thanks.

I couldn’t play that crippled son role. It reminds me too much of those situations where people heap praise and admiration on me when I haven't done anything. It creeps me out. I imagine First Ladies often feel the same way. I feel like a prop. It's like back when I was a poster kid and people gushed but all I did was be crippled.

But there is one scenario under which I would have gladly let my father tote me around in public. Suppose my father received a letter from Medicaid refusing to buy me a wheelchair for any of the million reasons Medicaid might refuse to buy a cripple a wheelchair. And suppose my father then said, “Goddammit sport, I ought to strap you across my back and run across the Great Plains to raise awareness about how Medicaid fucks cripples over! We’ll call it the Look How Medicaid Fucks Cripples Over Tour!”

All along the route I would inspire citizens to grab their pitchforks and charter a bus for the capital. I’d happily be a prop for that. That would be putting my crippledness to very good use.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

FRS and Other Toxic Syndromes

Most pregnant women don’t drink alcohol anymore. That’s good. It didn’t used to be that way, but then we discovered that alcohol is toxic to fetuses and causes fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).

Most pregnant women don’t smoke during pregnancy either. That’s good too. It’s good that we’re a lot more enlightened than we once were about what’s toxic to fetuses.

But I think a lot more research in this area might be necessary. Someday we may see signs up all over the place with a black silhouette of a pregnant woman in a red circle with a diagonal red slash. Because I still often see pregnant women engaging in reckless behaviors that common sense tells me must surely be injurious to their poor fetuses. Like for instance, I was greatly alarmed when I recently saw on television a pregnant woman at a political rally for a republican! Talk about a toxic environment, with all that cynicism and paranoia! The woman was getting all frothed up too. She was jumping up and down and waiving a sign. Now surely getting all frothed up at a republican rally produces toxins in the bodily fluids that can’t be good for a fetus. I bet it stunts the growth of the fetus and greatly increases the odds that someday, when this fetus is human, it too will go to republican rallies and get all frothed up. What a terrible fate to inflict upon a child! Someday, when we are more enlightened, this will be known as fetal republican syndrome (FRS).

And I also saw a pregnant woman on television at a Celine Dion concert! That shouldn’t be allowed either, should it? Or at least not after the first trimester or so. Because fetuses aren’t stupid. They can hear what’s going on on the outside and they’re very easily traumatized. Need I say more?

And I even saw a pregnant woman coming out of a port-a-potty once. What the hell is that all about? All those noxious fumes! The fetus is probably in the womb holding its nose and pounding on the walls and screaming, “Please, please take me back to the fucking Celine Dion concert!”

But it’s still the republican thing that scares me most of all. You would think that they of all people would prohibit fetuses from attending their rallies, just to be on the safe side. But I guess they don’t want to shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to recruiting. It shows what hypocrites they are when they say how much they adore fetuses.

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