Monday, March 27, 2017

Ask Smart Ass Cripple, Volume 4, Opus 32

Dear Smart Ass Cripple,
How come Siamese twins are called Siamese twins? And is it true that I can’t call them that anymore?

Yours truly,
Befuddled

Dear Befuddled,
To answer your second question first, yes, Siamese twins now insist on being referred to as conjoined twins. The same is true of Siamese cats. They now insist on being referred to as conjoined cats.

To answer your first question, the first conjoined twins to become international celebrities hailed from Siam. So they were simply named after the place they came from. It’s too bad they didn’t come from Spread Eagle, Wisconsin or Dildo, Newfoundland or Intercourse, Pennsylvania. God missed a golden comic opportunity with that one.


Dear Smart Ass Cripple,
My five-year old son recently said to me that Sesame Street will soon have an “autistic puppet.” Should I correct him? Shouldn’t he be saying “puppet with autism?” I don’t want him to offend anyone.

Sincerely,
Weary

Dear Weary,
There are many schools of thought on this issue. Some people are staunch proponents of what they call “puppet first” language. This means seeing the puppet first and the crippledness second. They feel it’s important for everyone to understand that crippled puppets are defined by much more than just their crippledness and that means putting the puppet before the crippledness.

However, there are others who believe that crippled puppets shouldn’t distance themselves from their crippledness, as if crippledness was a source of shame. Thus, they should embrace their crippledness as the feature that defines them most and put it first.

In light of all this, I would advise your five-year-old son to play it safe and avoid cripples altogether.


Dear Smart Ass Cripple,
I think Attention Deficit Disorder is a crock. When I was growing up, if a kid didn’t pay attention, we threw them in jail. And that straightened them out real quick! I think we should go back to doing that, don’t you?

With warm regards,
Fed Up

Dear Fed Up,
I don’t want to talk about ADD. Those people are really touchy. I once pissed a bunch of them off when I said, “People with ADD are the most broke ass cripples of all . They can’t even pay attention.”

It was just a joke, but boy did I get carpet bombed with hate mail. I was anxious to make amends so I remembered the time when a bunch of autistic people were pissed off at the rapper 50 Cent. Or at least I think it was 50 Cent. It might have been his half-brother, 25 Cent. Anyway, whichever rapper it was said something that pissed off autistic people. So to show remorse, he donated a bunch of money to an organization serving autistic people. So I decided to do something even more humanitarian. You know how some people start up camps to help kids overcome their problems? Like there are those camps where obese kids go to lose weight. Well I decided to start up a camp where ADD kids could learn how to concentrate better. I really meant well, but I made one little mistake. My fund fundraising appeal said, “Please help me send a kid with ADD to a concentration camp.”

That pissed off those ADD people even worse. So I don’t want to talk about them. No matter what I say, it’s never good enough.





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Monday, March 20, 2017

Dr. Jesus in Real Life

Is there a Biblical scholar out there? Because I’ve got questions.

The Bible is full of scenes where Jesus plays doctor, right? Those are the scenes where Jesus heals cripples. But are there any scenes where perfectly normal looking people beg Dr. Jesus to heal them? Surely something like that must’ve happened in real life because there always have been lots of people who don’t look crippled but are crippled nonetheless. Depressed people are a good example of that. There must’ve been plenty of depressed people walking around at the time of Jesus. Those were pretty depressing times. Human life expectancy was what, about 25 years? So at some point a perfectly normal looking guy must’ve said unto Jesus, “Please heal me, Jesus, for I am really depressed.” What did Jesus do? I don’t think he said, “You’re depressed, huh? Who isn’t? Suck it up!” A health insurance company might say something like that, but not Jesus. That’s what makes Jesus different from the health insurance companies.

So I guess if somebody claimed to be crippled, Jesus took their word for it and healed them. But if that was Jesus’ no-questions-asked policy, the hypochondriacs probably drove him nuts. I bet those people pestered the shit out of poor old Jesus. He heals their backache one day and they’re back again the next day with a brain tumor. So at some point when Jesus had enough of hypochondriacs, he put probably put his palm on their foreheads and said, “Look, I, Jesus Christ, do hereby heal thee of all ailments past, present and future, okay?”

And what about those situations where healing somebody couldn’t be fully achieved simply by Jesus zapping them with his palm? Like suppose a guy had a bad case of PTSD (or whatever they called it back then) because the Romans threw his parents to the lions. After Jesus zapped him, he’d say, “Wow! The Romans threw my parents to the lions, but I don’t care anymore. I’m hap-hap-happeeeeeeeee!” But that guy still wouldn’t be healed because Jesus just treated the symptoms and not the underlying disease. In a case like this, Jesus would have to do something more, like use his extraordinary powers of concentration to levitate up whichever Romans flung the guys parents into the lion pit and fling them into the lion pit as well. This wouldn’t completely heal the PTSD, but it would be an important step on the road to recovery.

But as far as I know, all the scenes in the Bible where Jesus plays doctor are cut and dried. The cripples all are unambiguously crippled. They’re blind or hunched or missing limbs. Jesus zaps them and they’re healed. End of scene.

But in real life, there’s no way it was that simple.






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Monday, March 13, 2017

The Grapes of Wrath for the Blind

Maybe I’m just too cynical. Maybe I ought to lighten up a little.

But I can’t help it. I call the 800 number for the Illinois Tollway so I can add funds to that little box on my van dashboard that lets me zip through toll stops without going to a human in a booth. I’m on hold and a recording says calls are handled by people working for the Lighthouse for the Blind.

I know hearing that is supposed to make me feel good. And I’m sure that’s the effect it has on 99.999999999999999 percent of callers. Who wouldn’t think hiring the handicapped is a mighty fine thing to do? But I hear that stuff about the Lighthouse and I say to myself, “So what’s the catch?”

And then I say to myself, “Why not India?” Because if an outfit employing cripples landed this customer service contract, they must have underbid India for it. So this smells like one of those deals where cripples get paid pennies an hour.

Now it’s true that this is a government contract and the government has a hard time justifying shipping jobs to India. But hell, governments love to bust unions, too. So while I’m sitting there enduring the on-hold music, I picture a scene with several rows of galley slaves working the oars, while a stern foreman with a whip patrols the aisle. Except instead of slaves working oars I see several rows of cubicles occupied by chattering blind people wearing headsets. A blind man falls to the ground in exhaustion and the sadistic foreman pounces and whips him until he climbs back up in his chair and gets back to work.

And if a blind person can’t hold up under the rigors of customer service, there are plenty more blind people waiting in line to take his/her place. I picture scores of migrant blind customer service workers, looking dirty and ragged like Okies, all headed across the Great Plains to Illinois in their covered wagons. Back at the migrant camp, after a grueling day of listening to customers bitch and moan, the blind workers huddle around the warm campfire wrapped in stiff and scratchy horse blankets. Each forlorn blind person takes a sip from a soup ladle before passing it on. One of the blind people plays sad music on a harmonica.

What the hell’s the matter with me? Why can’t I just relax and let myself feel all warm and fuzzy while waiting to be served, instead of conjuring up a disturbing fantasy of brutal exploitation? But there is one good thing about it. At least it takes my mind off the on-hold music.





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Monday, March 6, 2017

The Artificial Drooler


Well okay, I guess you can say things have improved a little for cripples over the last 20 years or so.

Twenty years or so ago, I went to see this play where the main character was a guy in a wheelchair who had cerebral palsy. I don’t remember the title of the play. All I remember was that it was written and performed by a traveling theater company that does plays about “social issues.” Yikes! That should have been a big red flag. But I went to see the play anyway, despite being fully aware of the risk involved in doing so. I guess I figured, “How bad could it be?”

This was that theater company’s first foray into the “social issue” of crippledom. Needless to say, the role of the man with cerebral palsy who’s in a wheelchair was not played by a guy who really did have cerebral palsy or was in a wheelchair. To me it was obvious from the start that he wasn’t an authentic cripple by the way he spazzed it up like Jerry Lewis on coke. From my vantage point in the back row, I could even see drool glistening on his chin throughout the play.

The sad protagonist lived a life of brutal rejection. He was rejected by his family, by kids in school, by employers, by females. It got to the point where he sat on stage alone in his wheelchair delivering a spazzed-out tragic soliloquy about how much it sucks to be him. And then he put the barrel of a loaded gun in his mouth.

The audience gasped. And that’s when the action froze and the audience participation part began. (Yikes! A play about “social issues” that includes audience participation! Any play like that should be required to have a Surgeon General’s warning.) As the faux cripple sat motionless on stage with a gun in his mouth, one of the administrators of the theater company entered from the wings and asked the audience to determine the ending of the play. Should the cripple blow his brains out or not?

A spirited audience discussion ensued about the pros and cons of cripples blowing their brains out. No one mentioned the the fact any cripple that was as spazzed out as this one probably would have shot off his nose or something while attempting to put the gun in his mouth. In the end, the audience decided that the brave protagonist should resolve to keep on living in spite of it all. I can’t remember whether it was a voice vote or a show of hands.

So the action unfroze and the actor took the gun out of his mouth and delivered a final soliloquy about how he’s going to keep on living in spite of it all. The end. The audience applauded vigorously as the actors took their bows. Of course the star bowed last and before he did, he rose from his wheelchair, much to the audience’s surprise and delight. And then he unhooked something from his lower lip and held it high for all to see. Turns out the chin drool was fake. Yep, somebody in the props department actually made him a drool prosthesis.

Like I said, that was 20 years or so ago. I’ve seen a lot of horrifyingly grating stuff about cripples on stage and screen since then. But I’ve still not seen anything as excruciating as that.

So maybe things have improved a little.



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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Not Burning to Death as an Act of Defiance

At first the sound of the siren is way off in the distance. But then it swells until it’s right in front of the building where I live. Then the siren fades and I hear a fire truck idling beneath my window. Sometimes there are two or three fire trucks.

This happens at least once a week. About 500 people live in my building so the odds of someone doing something to set off their smoke alarm are high. The cause always turns out to be something like burnt popcorn.

But each time I wonder just a little if this time it just might be the big one. What if it really is a fire and I, being a cripple, cannot escape? Of course I don’t want to burn to death for the same reason nobody else wants to. I imagine it hurts like hell. But I also feel that I have a political obligation not to burn to death. Not burning to death, to me, is an act of defiance. Because some people warned me back when I was a criplet that someday, if I got too pushy and bold, I would probably burn to death. “You’ll never be able live on your own! What if there’s a fire?" Or, “You can’t come into this theater/restaurant/fill-in-the-blank! What if there’s a fire?” Etc.

The only place a cripple would be safe from burning to death would be a nursing home. Because everybody knows nursing homes never catch fire. They’re all made of miraculous fireproof materials.

It really sucks when I hear that criplets of today are still being intimidated by that same what-if-there’s-a-fire shit. And that’s why I feel that the best way to support those who reject that nonsense and dive into life anyway is to make damn sure that I die by any means other than burning to death. Because if I do burn to death, I will surely be made an example of. “See, we told you! Here’s what happens when a cripple takes a risk!” My charred corpse will become a poster child.

So I have extra incentive to avoid burning to death. I don’t want to let my fellow cripples down. You know those people who douse themselves with gasoline and set themselves on fire in order to make a political statement? I’m the opposite of those guys. I want my tombstone to read, “Here lies Smart Ass Cripple. Well, at least he didn’t burn to death.”



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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Just Very Very Beautiful Women and Me




I feel a deep yearning to start a support group where I can share my feelings and vulnerabilities with people who experience the same insensitive treatment that I do. This would be a very exclusive support group. Membership would be open only to very very beautiful women and me.

Because a lot of times I hear cripples talk about how when they’re out and about on the streets, they feel invisible. Sorry, but I don’t understand that one at all. If anything, when I'm roaming the streets I feel hyper visible, like there’s a reverse Where’s Waldo type of thing happening. Just take one look at the aerial snapshot of the teeming crowd and the first thing you’ll see is me.

And I also hear cripples complain a lot about how other people crane their necks staring at them. Again, my experience is the opposite. I find that people crane their necks trying to pretend like they’re not staring. Like for instance, I’m in line at a fast food place. I make sudden and unexpected eye contact with the guy across from me in the next line. He quickly looks away and pretends to be endlessly fascinated with the napkin dispenser.

Whenever this happens to me, I imagine that it must inevitably happen all the time to very very beautiful women, too. I know how guys are. Through years or practice, mostly trial and error, they’ve all refined their technique for sneaking a peek. Peek sneaking, be it at cripples or at beautiful women or miscellaneous, has become a lot easier with the advent of smartphones. You always have a trusty device nearby that you can whip out and pretend to be staring at while you’re really staring at something beyond.

This is why I often feel a sense of warm solidarity with very very beautiful women. I want to bond with them and derive mutual comfort. Now of course I won’t deny that my experience as a crippled white male is not exactly parallel to that of a woman. The difference is most apparent when I pass a construction site. There’s something about the vibe of a construction site that makes some men ditch all sense of decorum and say exactly how they feel about passing women. They’ll say something crude like, “Oooh mama! Gimme some of that!”’ But as far as I know, construction workers never say exactly how they feel about passing cripples. If they did, we’d be hearing stuff like, “Hey cripple, you make me feel a great sense of anxiety because you remind me of the fragility of human existence and how I can join your ranks at any moment and thus becomes increasingly dependent on the rapidly-eroding social safety net! So get lost!”

Nevertheless, I still think forming a support group for very very beautiful women and me is a great idea. And I know there are many other cripples out there who would benefit from being a part of my group as well. But screw them. Let them form their own damn support group.




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Monday, February 13, 2017

Trying to Confuse my Wheelchair or A Man Without a Demographic


You see one day last summer I went into this boutique that sells women’s lingerie. I was just in there for a few minutes and I didn’t buy anything. The only reason I went into the place was that I was being stalked and I wanted to throw the stalker off the scent.

I wasn’t being literally stalked, just virtually. I just got this new wheelchair at the time and there’s a display window on the drive box that shows the time and date. And every once in a while a warning appears in the display window commanding me to update the time and date. And chair won’t move until I do it.

Why is it so urgent that the time and date always be current? I surmised that it’s because, like everything else these days, my new chair must contain a secret tracking devise that constantly monitors and records my whereabouts.

Why would the government waste time and money spying on me? That’s the thing. I don’t think it’s the government that’s behind it. I think it’s an even more evil entity with a sinister agenda and elaborate spy apparatus, like maybe Google or Facebook. They made a deal with the wheelchair manufacturer and they’re watching my every move with their tracking device so as to determine my demographic so they can bombard me with the proper barrage of targeted ads on the internet.

And I resent that. My demographic is none of their damn business. And just what the hell is my demographic anyway? I like to think of myself as a man without a demographic. Demographics are dehumanizing. They’re a pigeonhole, a trap. So whenever I catch myself settling too comfortably within the constraints of a certain demographic, I try to engage in some form of undemographiclike behavior, just to keep myself honest. Being a man without a demographic in a capitalist consumer culture can be lonely. It’s like being a man without a country. Your demographic is your home, the place where you find the comfort of community and your sense of identity. A man without a demographic is an expatriate. But oh well.

But you can’t give a virtual stalker the slip like you can an actual stalker. Wherever you go, it goes, like a shackle. The best you can do is confuse it. So when I’m out and about in my wheelchair, I take a lot of detours. I drop in places I would never otherwise ever go, such as American Girl, a Baptist church or a fitness center. I’m doing it to confuse my wheelchair. And then maybe those nosey bastards trying to figure out my demographic will write me off as a lost cause and leave me the hell alone.



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