Wednesday, December 5, 2018

How Would I Breathe?


Every night I sleep hooked up to a ventilator. My sleep doctor says if I don’t do that my brain might get deprived of oxygen in my sleep and I might have a heart attack or stroke. That would really suck.

But you know what else really sucks? It costs $800 a month to rent my ventilator from a medical supply company. Fortunately for me, I’m married to a fine woman. She has everything a man like me could want. She’s smart, wise, kind. She has a killer sense of humor and a job with good health insurance.

But what if I wasn’t so fucking lucky that she lets me tag along in her life? Or what if that bit of luck runs out? Or what if she loses her job or whatever? How would I breathe?

If I wanted to keep pursuing my goal of not having a stroke or heart attack in my sleep, I’d have to figure out a way to come up with 800 a month forever. Because I can’t buy the ventilator or rent to buy it or anything like that. I can only rent it month by month forever. Those are the rules.

So I would probably adapt a strategy of saying fuck it. I’d just stop paying the rent. And I wouldn’t feel the teeniest bit guilty about it. My insurance company has probably given the medical supply company enough money to pay for 15 ventilators by now.

What would the medical supply company do? Would they send the ventilator repo man after me? Would he don clever disguises in an attempt to fool me into answering the door? “Congratulations! You’ve won $10 million dollars from Publishers Clearing House!”

Or maybe it works like an eviction. Maybe the sheriff shows up with a warrant to confiscate my ventilator.

But in order to avoid the bad optics of snatching away a crippled old man’s ventilator, the medical supply company would probably bide their time and wait for my machine to break. I'll come crawling back, just like they planned. And then they’d say if I want it fixed, pay up first! And if I don’t pay up they’ll bide their time again and wait for me to have a fatal stroke or heart attack. Either way, they win.

Maybe I should be proactive and get a big, mean dog to guard my ventilator.

Don’t you just love capitalism?



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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Black Out



I’m sure we all have those scary moments when we look back on our lives and realize there are some things we did that we have no memory of doing. It’s like when you mysteriously wake up naked in bed next to a naked stranger and you’ve got a fresh new tattoo on your butt.

That kind of thing happened to me recently when I realized that even though I have absolutely no recollection of it, back when I was in high school I apparently took and passed a test on the U.S. Constitution. I mean, back in those days, the state required that in order to graduate high school, every student had to pass a test on the U.S. Constitution. I graduated high school so that must mean that somewhere along the line I did just that. The school from which I graduated was a state-operated boarding school for cripples which I affectionately refer to as the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT). Even the inmates of SHIT weren't exempt from learning about the U.S. Constitution before we could graduate. That was quite ironic because considering the crappy quality of the education at SHIT, we probably could have otherwise graduated from there without learning that 2 + 2 = 4.

But like I said, I don’t remember a damn thing about any Constitution test or about the Constitution itself. Ask me any question at all about the Constitution. I guarantee you I won’t know the answer. Go ahead, I dare you. Ask me! Article 3? Don’t ask me. I think the only person that knows less about the Constitution than I do is Clarence Thomas.

Having no recollection of that test or studying for it or anything is pretty scary. Because I wonder what would’ve happened if I hadn’t passed. Would I still be an inmate at SHIT? Would I be a 62-year-old sophomore? Would they have refused to let me go? That’s no joke to me because I have a recurring nightmare that I’m still stuck at SHIT. I’ve been there like for 50 years! All the other inmates are the same kids that were there when I was but they’re all still like 17-years-old.

I also get pretty scared when I wonder what other things I might have done while blacked out. So if I've done anything shitty to any of you out there that I probably don’t remember please let me know right away, especially if, as a result, I owe you money or I might be your dad. It will be good for me to realize that I owe you restitution, so I can make every effort to avoid you.



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Monday, November 19, 2018

Selling Your Metaphorical Cheeseburger and the Philosophical Importance of Pez

There’s one thing all human beings have in common. Sooner or later, we all have to get out there and sell our cheeseburger, so to speak.

It’s sure true that not all metaphorical cheeseburgers are created equal. The divine creator endowed some people with cheeseburgers that are more succulent and alluring than others. All they have to do is put their cheeseburger out there and everyone jumps all over it. Their cheeseburgers practically sell themselves.

But for the rest of us, we have to figure out how to convince others to buy our seemingly ordinary cheeseburger, whatever our particular cheeseburger may be. What strategy shall we employ?

It’s like Pez. Pez is just a shitty little hunk of sugar nobody would buy if it was wrapped in a package like gum. But if you put Pez in a plastic dispenser with the head of a clown or a Marvel comics superhero on top, kids eat it up. I would say Pez proves that what matters most is not what you’re selling but how you sell it. But that blanket conclusion may not withstand deep philosophical scrutiny. Would the dispenser be as effective if it was full of broccoli?

But for the most part, successfully selling your cheeseburger is in the delivery. Here in Chicago we have one of those Rainforest Cafes. Right outside the entrance are a couple giant plaster toadstools. Inside the Rainforest Café it’s a climate-controlled jungle, with plaster elephants and such. It’s all the fun stuff about being in the jungle without the scary stuff. There aren’t venomous snakes slithering around your feet or anything like that. The Rainforest Cafe is pretty hoaky, but who can blame whoever thought it up? It's all just an elaborate strategy for selling a cheeseburger. Desperate times require desperate measures.

It’s like this Abe-Lincoln-themed restaurant I went too once. The décor was pseudo 1860s and the menu items all had a Lincoln twist, like Mary Todd fries. I resisted the urge to ask the hostess if I could sit in the John Wilkes booth. I figured she’d heard that one a million times before. But in an Abe-Lincoln-themed restaurant, you can call a cheeseburger something like an emancipation burger and that makes it special, even though it’s still just a cheeseburger.

Comparing living life to trying to sell a cheeseburger may seem like a cynical outlook to some. But I disagree. At least I didn’t compare it to trying to sell broccoli.




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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Constant Need for Invalidation


It’s kind of like when you get your parking validated, except it’s the opposite. When you get your parking validated, someone stamps “valid” on your ticket and you’re good to go.

This is more like getting invalidated. Every cripple plays this game sooner or later. Broke ass cripples play it the most. If they want to get Social Security or Medicaid or Medicare or any of the stuff that broke ass cripples can’t live without, they’ll need to play the invalidation game. They’ll need to collect sufficient documentation that they are crippled enough to qualify and then take it to an office in the hopes that some official person will stamp “invalid” on it and they will be good to go.

I’m not a broke ass cripple, as broke ass cripple standards go, but I still have to play the invalidation game at least once a year. If I want the state to keep paying the wages of the crew of people I hire to come to my home and put me on the crapper and wash my armpits etc., I have to prove to the state every year that I’m still just as crippled as I was last time they checked.


A doctor has to officially sign off on any invalidation. If my wheelchair needs fixing and I want my insurance to pay for it, for example, I need my doctor to certify that the replacement part is medically necessary. My doctor and I find this amusing, since he doesn’t know a wheelchair part from his grandma’s elbow. So he takes my word for it and signs off.

But even rich cripples can’t get out of playing the invalidation game. They have to play it if they want to get a cripple license plate or property tax break or any of the stuff rich cripples can’t live without.

Sometimes playing the invalidation game is like being a contestant on a game show and winning lots and lots of money, except it’s the opposite. When you’re a winning contestant on a game show, you go home with lots and lots of extra money. But if you’re playing the invalidation game, it’s like being on a sadistic game show where they take all of your money. Sometimes the object of the invalidation game is to blow all your money until you’re broke ass enough to qualify for something like Social Security or Medicaid. And the state will be monitoring you to make sure you stay broke ass, so don’t try any funny business.

Poor cripples. We just can’t live without the invalidation of others.





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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Cool Stuff I Got Because I Bitched (Volume One)

One thing I've learned from crippledom is that it pays to bitch, sometimes. Actually, a lot of times you bitch and bitch and it doesn’t do any good. But you never know when bitching might pay off, so you might as well take a shot.

I’ve gotten a lot of cool stuff that I wouldn’t have gotten if I hadn’t bitched. Here’s some of it:

An upgrade to the President Taft Suite at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver: And I got it for the Holiday Inn price. I went to Denver so I made a reservation at a chain hotel. I think it was a Holiday Inn. And when I got there my room was the worst excuse I ever saw for a cripple accessible room. And I’ve seen some doozies.

So I went down to the front desk and I bitched. And in order to make it up to me, they set me up with a suite at the Brown Palace Hotel down the street. I don’t know who paid the sizable difference in price but it wasn’t me so I don’t care.

The Brown Palace opened in 1892. It’s one of those elegant old hotels with a majestic, marble staircase and lots of lattice work.

The suite was roomy and warm and comfy. I called it the President Taft suite. That wasn’t the name of it but I called it that because staying there made me feel like President Taft for some reason. The suite just had that certain President Taft décor and air. It seemed like the kind of place Taft would’ve stayed if he went to Denver.

It beat the hell out a cramped room at the Holiday Inn.

A Free Sleeper car on AMTRAK : I made a reservation to get to Indianapolis on AMTRAK. But when I got to the train station I learned that some genius at AMTRAK cancelled the train and sent all the passengers to Indy on a bus instead. The bus had a lift on it but there was only one space for a wheelchair inside the bus and some other cripple beat me to it.

So I was SOL and there wasn’t another train to Indy for 24 hours.

So I bitched. Oh sweet Lord did I bitch. I bitched up a hurricane! So the AMTRAK lady set me up for free on the train leaving soon for New Orleans. The closest it came to Indianapolis was Effingham, Illinois, which meant somebody had to drive two hours there from Indy to pick me up. But it was the best I could get without waiting until the next day so I took it, especially after the AMTRAK lady threw in a free sleeper car, food and drinks to sweeten the pot.

I put my feet up on the bed in the sleeper car and ordered their most expensive meal and champagne. The only bummer was that it only took about three hours to get to Effingham, so I had to eat, sleep and relax fast.

But all this goes to show that good things come to those who bitch. I believe it says that in the Bible.


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Saturday, October 27, 2018

EMH?


The guy bagging my groceries might have been what they used to call an EMH guy.

That’s what they called some kids at the segregated public elementary school for cripples I attended. EMH. It stood for Educable Mentally Handicapped. Nobody calls them that anymore. Nobody uses the word handicapped anymore. And I’m glad because I hate that word. A lot of people hate that word for a lot of different reasons. But I hate it because it sounds so whiny. You can’t say “I’m handicapped” without sounding whiny, unless you put on a fake British Alfred Hitchcock accent or something.

EMH was what they called the kids in the cripple school who weren’t physically crippled, except for the Down syndrome kids. There was a name for them. They were called Mongoloids. Let’s pause for a minute to unpack that word, shall we? The suffix oid means like, as in resembling. But it carries the connotations of being a cheap imitation of that which it resembles. So a Mongoloid was a cheap imitation of someone from Mongolia.

Everybody knew what to call the Down syndrome kids because they looked alike. But as for all the other kids who went to the cripple school but weren’t physically crippled and didn't look like Down syndrome kids, everyone just shrugged and called them EMH.

The guy bagging my groceries looked a lot younger than me. I wondered where he went to school? Because he had that EMH way about him, which back when I was a kid would’ve been grounds enough to ship him off to the cripple school. The EMH classroom was a segregated school within a segregated school. I don’t remember even being in the lunchroom with the EMH kids. Maybe there was a separate EMH lunchtime. None of us knew what went on inside the mysterious and spooky EMH classroom. We were just told that if EMH people went to school long enough, they might someday learn to do something like bag groceries. That was opposed to the TMH kids, which stood for Trainable Mentally Handicapped. If TMH kids went to school long enough, we were told, they might someday learn to do something like tie their shoes. We had no idea what kind of school TMH kids went to. There were none of them at our segregated cripple school.

I bought a six pack at the grocery store. The cashier was too young to ring it up. So he stepped back and the EMH guy went behind the cash register and rang me up.

Wow, back when I was in cripple school, I never thought I’d see a day when they’d let an EMH guy take charge like that.



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Friday, October 19, 2018

Please Give Generously to the NAACP



Every year I make a donation to an organization that does very important work. It’s the NAACP, which stands for the National Association of Assholes with Cerebral Palsy.

The NAACP has done a lot to advance public understanding of cripples. Membership in this organization is open to anyone who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and is an asshole. The proud founder of the NAACP is a guy named Bill. But everybody calls him Hugh because he goes by his professional name, Hugh Jassole. He has cerebral palsy. He walks funny and talks funny and he’s spastic as all hell. But that has never stopped him from being an asshole. Just ask his college roommates. They’ll tell you that whenever they left their carryout food in the refrigerator, Hugh always ate it. After Hugh dropped out of college, he was fortunate enough to meet and marry the woman of his dreams. And then he dumped her for a 17-year-old cheerleader named Britney, whom he later dumped at the airport in Reno. After they picked up their luggage, Hugh told Britney he was going to the bathroom, but instead he caught a flight to the Bahamas.

You can read all this and more in Hugh’s bio, which is featured prominently on the NAACP website. The bio says Hugh begins every day with an affirmation. He calls a random poor sap working customer service, argues with them and demands to speak to their supervisor.

You may be asking yourself how I could possibly admire a guy like that. And the answer is, I don’t. He’s an asshole. And that’s why I think his work is so important. Most people don’t expect someone as crippled as Hugh to be such an asshole. They expect them to be passive and polite and deferential. But the NAACP is here to remind us all that cripples can be assholes, too, just like everybody else.

This is a hard message that a lot of people don’t want to hear, so the NAACP diligently works year-round to drive it home. At their annual convention, they all get together and act like assholes. NAACP members always bring their pet dogs just so they can walk them around the convention center parking lot and leave their shit lying around. This is an important NAACP ritual. Members who don’t have pet dogs are expected to rent one for the weekend. And speaking of parking lots, anybody with a wheelchair license plate on their vehicle who wants to park in a space reversed for vehicles with wheelchair license plates will be SOL because those spaces will be hogged up by NAACP members who don’t have wheelchair license plates on their vehicles. The same goes for bathrooms. NAACP members who aren’t wheelchair cripples make it a point to hog up all the wheelchair stalls.

At NAACP conventions, everyone must speak nothing but English. No languages from foreign countries! Also, NAACP members never tip. This is sacred rule number one. And, if at the end of the weekend the convention center staff say, “God, what a bunch of assholes,” then its mission accomplished!

So please give generously to the NAACP. You can do so by clicking the Donate button below. You can count on me to pass it on to them.



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