Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Smart Ass Friend With Circus Mirrors


Someone is playing a mean and elaborate joke on me. I bet it’s one of my smart ass friends.

It seems like every mirror I pass these days is a circus mirror. And these circus mirrors make me look like a crippled old man. There I am looking all Picassoesque—twisted and refracted. Or I look limp and amorphous like those melting Salvador Dali clocks. I look like I’m about to ooze right on out of my wheelchair onto the floor like a blob of dough with two terrified eyeballs bobbing and floating on top.

The circus mirror distorts who I really am. It makes me look as if I have one of those ballooned-out bellies quadriplegics develop over time. It makes me look surreal.

But I know it’s all a sick joke because I don’t really look like that. In my mind’s eye I’m sturdy and upright and clear-eyed and strong. And my mind’s eye wouldn’t lie. It’s amazing how my smart ass friend keeps one step ahead of me. It’s like he/she knows exactly where I’m going and just before I get there she/he replaces whichever mirror used to be there with a circus mirror. Like the other day I went to one of those fancy high-rises where the elevators are full of mirrors. And all the mirrors had been replaced with circus mirrors. And when I see myself looking all squiggly in the circus mirror it’s a jolt, just like it’s a jolt when you hear your recorded voice. And you know that can’t possibly be your voice because that recorded voice doesn’t sound anything like your real voice sounds when listening to it from inside your own head.

I don’t know what my smart ass friend is trying to accomplish. Maybe he/he is trying to make me feel like I’m one of those crippled old men that were in the adult cabins at Jerry Lewis Summer Camp when I was a kid. Those were some starchy old dudes. But I’m not one of them! I mean sure, I’m about the same age now that they were then but that’s not the point, dammit!

If I want someone to make me feel like a crippled old man I’ll go see a doctor who specializes in my specific type of crippledness. Those kinds of doctors love to remind cripples how crippled we are, just in case we forgot. The doctor orders a series of tests and then the conversation goes pretty much like this:

DOCTOR: Well, the results are in from all your tests and it’s pretty clear that you’re a crippled old man.

ME: I want a second opinion!

That’s why I avoid going to doctors who specialize in my specific type of crippledness. For me, the key to survival as a crippled old man is to mightily deny I’m a crippled old man for as long as I possibly can. If I convince myself that I’m a crippled old man, I might start acting like one. And I fear it’s all downhill from there

Friday, August 22, 2014

Spontaneous Combustion and Other Perils

There are two kinds of cripples in the world: 1) those that try to ride up and down escalators in their wheelchairs and 2) everybody else.

I belong firmly, squarely and resolutely in the latter category. If I feel like engaging in high-risk behavior that puts my life on the line, I don’t have to pop and maintain a wheelie on an escalator. All I have to do is any one of the following:

Call a cripple cab. You never know. I might get picked up by that cab driver named Madame Curie (Smart Ass Cripple alias.) Madame Curie dresses like a lumberjack. Whenever she picks me up, she hugs me and says something like, “I’m so happy to see you, sweetie! How are you, honey? God really blessed me by sending me here to pick you up today!” And then she loads me into her cripple cab and squeals away from the curb like we just robbed a bank. And sooner or later she gets into a near-miss rear-end or broadside or sideswipe situation with another driver and she rolls down the window and screams something like, “YOU STUPID ASSHOLE! CAN’T YOU SEE I’M DRIVING THE HANDICAPPED HERE? ROT IN HELL YOU SCUM!” And then Madame Curie turns to me and says, “Are you okay, precious?”

Ride the rapid transit train. You never know. One time the blue line train was merrily rolling through one of the tunnels downtown and a fire broke out. And so they evacuated the train by sending all the passengers down this emergency escape walkway in the dark tunnel. But that walkway is about a foot wide. It ain’t hardly cripple friendly. If I would have been on that train, I would have been just plain screwed.

Sit quietly in my wheelchair. You never know. My motorized wheelchair might spontaneously combust. Hey, it happens. I hear stories about it all the time. There was a guy in San Antonio last year who got so damn sick of waiting for Medicare to buy him a motorized chair that his family bought him one at a flea market. And then the damn thing caught on fire. A few years back, the company that makes my wheelchair had to recall a whole bunch of chairs because some caught on fire out of the blue.

Go to bed. You never know. Hospital beds have also been known to spontaneously combust. Between 1993 and 2003, the Food and Drug Administration received 95 reports of electric hospital beds bursting into flames because of shorts or fucked up power cords or too much dust in the mechanical parts or whatever. So when a cripple like me gets out of bed in the morning, we say to ourselves, “Whew! Thank God I survived another night of sound and peaceful sleep!”

Who the hell needs escalators? A cripple like me can tempt fate and flirt with death without even getting out of bed.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Call to Arms!

As a lifelong, card–carrying, USDA-approved member of the crippled race, I must say I’m delighted to see that it’s getting easier and easier for ordinary U.S. citizens to carry loaded guns. I feel safer than I’ve ever felt before!

I used to be afraid of paranoid people. In fact, I was so afraid of paranoid people that I rarely left the house. Because paranoid people are all over the place and they’re sneaky. You never know who just might be one. The guy in line ahead of me in the grocery store might be paranoid. The UPS guy might be paranoid. Hell, my dog might even be paranoid. And you never know when a paranoid person might have a gun and start shooting the place up. So since I can’t avoid paranoid people, at least now I can arm myself against them. And now I don’t have to be afraid to go out of the house.

And let’s face it, you can’t always count on the police. There are just too many criminals and too few police. It always has been that way and it always will be. It says so in the Bible. But when I have my gun, I can do the job of the police for them. For instance, if I hear on the news that the police are looking for a young black man of average height and build, I take my gun and go out looking for one myself. And it never takes me long to find one.

I’m particularly inspired and gratified when I see bold, patriotic citizens who display their loaded firearms in public. They go to movies and restaurants with automatic rifles strapped across their backs. I told my blind friends about this and they’re so excited that they’re going to do the same. Because blind people are the easiest targets of all for criminals on the streets and these blind people are sick of being passive victims. They’re fighting back! So they’re going to go around with loaded automatic rifles strapped across their backs. That will make those damn criminals think twice!

I know some pimple-faced little pissy liberals will scream about all this. But I’ll tell them to go blow a horse because the Constitution is on my side. The Second Amendment is absolute! It says every citizen has a right to carry around every loaded gun they can get their hands on. Period! It doesn’t say “every citizen except cripples and blind people.“ Not even children are exempted. If you’re old enough to pull the trigger, you’re old enough to carry a gun. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and if everybody is carrying a loaded gun except blind people and cripples, then cowardly criminals will prey all the time on blind people and cripples.

I’m sure my gun-loving brothers and sisters who are not crippled will back me up on this one, eh? I’m sure when my blind friends march through town proudly brandishing their loaded rifles, these patriots will march with them in solidarity, shoulder to shoulder. We know who our friends are.


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Friday, August 8, 2014

Smart Ass Cripple's Perfect Secret Plan for Kissing the Government Teat Goodbye

I just had a revelation! Up until just now, I was always convinced that there was no way I would ever be rich enough to afford to pay for all the cripple stuff I need, like assistance and contraptions. I resigned myself to a lifetime of sucking the government teat and all the bureaucratic degradation that comes with it.

But I just had a revelation! I don’t have an aversion to being rich. I just have an aversion to doing all the shit one usually has to do to become rich. I’m terrified I’ll turn into a miserable, greedy shithead like Trump. If I could win the lottery or cash in at the roulette table or something, then I’d be super cool with being rich. Winning the lottery is the American dream. I don’t care what they told us in school, the American dream isn’t working your ass off so you can be rich. Who wouldn’t skip the working your ass off part if they could?

But I have discovered a way to put my talents to use to make myself fabulously wealthy. It requires no moral compromise on my part and, if I really put my heart into it, it should pay off pretty quick. However, I will need investors because there will be significant start-up costs. But I am supremely confident that the return on their investment will be swift and sweet. I believe in myself.

I will use the money my investors put up to purchase courtside tickets for NBA basketball games. And from that perch I will heckle the hell out of LeBron James. I will follow him everywhere he goes and heckle him hard. And I have faith that sooner rather than later he will snap, charge into the stands like an agitated antelope and strangle me. And that will be the money shot—a video of LeBron strangling a poor wheelchair cripple. Note how the cripple’s eye pupils are shaped like dollar signs.

And that video will go so viral that CDC will have to step in and quarantine it. And I’ll be sure to wear a cervical collar during my press conferences with my barracuda lawyers. And I’ll eventually agree to a hefty out-of-court settlement. And I’ll be set for life. And I’ll tell the government to kiss my ass!

It’s nothing personal against LeBron. It’s just business. He’s the one who happens to be sitting on a mountain of money. But if by some miracle he has the iron will and Zen-like composure it takes to absorb my barbs and walk away, I’ll start hanging around golf courses and heckling Tiger Woods. It doesn’t take much for a heckler to fuck up a golfer. All you have to do, pretty much, is sneeze or fart or crack your knuckles at precisely the right time. It shouldn’t be long before Tiger boils over with rage and wraps a nine iron around my skull.

Basketball season is coming soon. I’m so excited! I can’t wait to embark upon this new chapter of my life!


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Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Human Spirit


There’s a certain look cripples like me often get from uncrippled people we pass on the streets. The people shooting us the look don’t think we notice but we do. And we know exactly what that look means. We’ve seen it a thousand times.

It’s a look that combines equal parts pity and fear with a pinch of panic. And what that look says is, “Damn, I bet that poor sap can’t even jerk off.”

Now it would be foolish for me to attempt to put forth the rosy facade that having limited or no use of one’s hands and arms doesn't present any significant challenges in the arena of self pleasuring. It does. And the free market has done little to address the problem. When cripples need assistance in carrying out our activities of daily living, we often turn to assistive technology. And I swear to God there is a piece of cripple technology designed to assist in executing every imaginable ADL from nose picking to screwing in light bulbs. But I don’t know of any cripple technology that is primarily designed to assist in the execution of self pleasuring, which is something I don’t understand at all. Why is there this universal assumption that cripples are the only humans for whom self pleasuring is not an activity of daily living, or at least an activity of two-or-three-times-a-weekly living?

And traditional sex toys aren’t much help either. They’re either too heavy or too bulky or the on/off switch is too tight or whatever. Mainstream sex toys aren’t designed with people who can’t use their arms in mind, which is another thing I don’t understand. Here we are nearly 25 years after the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act and there still isn’t anything on the market like a vibrating dildo that is operated by voice command. But why the hell not? Was the sex toy industry exempted or grandfathered out of the ADA? Surely we have the technology to create such a device. All we lack is the political will! Somebody ought to sue! Don’t get me started on this subject!

But even though the deck is decidedly stacked against many cripples when it comes to self pleasuring, cripples are nothing if not inventive. I cannot speak for the women, but I’m here to tell you that men can execute this ADL hands-free. It works sort of like meditation. You sit quietly and concentrate all your attention and energy on a single point of focus until you achieve a state of exhilarating release. Like meditation, this technique takes time and devotion to master. And it doesn’t always work. Sometimes you just fall asleep. But with perseverance, it can be done.

When I get that look on the street, I feel like taking the pedestrian aside and telling them I know what they’re afraid of but rest assured-- if they ever become crippled like me all hope is not lost. And then I’ll tell them what I just told you. It’s another example of the triumph of the human spirit. That ought to make them feel better.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Pimps

When the crippled beggar up there on Congress Street shakes his paper cup, the jingle jangle is rich and resonant. It sounds like his business is booming.

Or maybe it’s a front, like when your real estate agent pulls up in a BMW he/she can’t begin to afford, just so you’ll think he/she is super successful. Maybe the beggar’s cup is full of rocks and bottle caps just so he’ll sound like he's a super successful beggar. But then again, you would think that a crippled beggar trying to drum up business would put up the opposite front. I’m more inclined to feel obligated to fill a cup that sounds empty.

I have to admit that sometimes I’ve been tempted to take up crippled begging. It’s a quick and easy way to become an independent businessman. No start-up costs. No lining up of investors. No overhead. All you need is a paper cup and, if you really want to get fancy, a scrap of cardboard and a pencil. I can set my own hours. No office politics. Some folks say begging is demeaning, which I suppose is true. But so was a lot of other stuff I was hooked up with by the vocational rehab agencies that help cripples find jobs. One time way back when I was sent on a telemarketing interview for Time-Life books. The interviewer had me do a mock phone call. I read from a script announcing the exciting news about the new volume in our series of books entitled The Old West. This volume was The Gunfighters and it was “handsomely bound in genuine simulated leather.”

But anyway, the best indicator that the profit margins in cripple begging still aren’t that high is the fact that nobody appears to be shaking crippled beggars down. I haven’t seen or heard anything about mafia thugs approaching crippled beggars and demanding a cut of the take. And I haven’t heard reports of crippled beggars on corners being gunned down in drive-by shootings because they refused to play along.

If there was big money to be made in cripple begging, you know this would be going on. And there would be competing begging cartels, each headed by an uncrippled kingpin controlling his/her own batch of crippled beggars. Sort of like a pimp. And there would be bloody turf wars with the kingpins battling for control of lucrative begging corners.

Either that or crippled beggars would get shaken down in a more legal and civilized manner. Some shrewd entrepreneur, smelling an untapped profit center, would enter into an exclusive begging franchise agreement with the city council. And then crippled begging would become tightly regulated. Any crippled beggar (franchisee) would have to sign a contract with the shrewd entrepreneur (franchisor). The cripple agrees to pay all fees associated with acquiring a crippled beggar franchise plus a percentage of the monthly proceeds to the franchisor in exchange for the right to beg on a certain corner. Sort of like a pimp.

But so far you don't hear much about this stuff happening. So far crippled beggars are pretty much allowed to set up shop wherever they want and everybody leaves them alone, which makes it all the more tempting to become one.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

African History Dropout

I was about 14 or so and my mother was hoppin’ mad. She found the taboo adult literature I was hiding. I thought it was in a safe hiding place, buried way down deep in the underwear drawer of my nightstand in my room at the state-operated boarding school for cripples, which I affectionately refer to as the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT).

My mother demanded to know how an adolescent cripple in a sheltered environment like SHIT could have acquired such adult reading material. It was not one but two books. One was On Contradiction by Mao Tse Tung. The other was Mao’s Little Red Book.

I cracked under the heat of interrogation and confessed that one of the houseparents, which is what they called the aides at SHIT, slipped the books to me on the sly. The houseparent was Brady, the guy with the big Afro haircut. Brady looked like the kind of guy the people in my snow white neighborhood referred to at the time as a “black militant.” (Note: The more worldly people in my neighborhood, such as my mother, acknowledged that not all black people were black militants. There were some blacks who had jobs, kept up their property and looked after their kids. These blacks were “the good ones.”)

My mother confiscated the books, lest I fall under the corrupting communist influence of the black militants. I didn’t tell her that it was too late. I dared not say so when I went back home to the neighborhood but I thought the black militants were super cool. And it didn’t have anything to do with the Mao books. I didn’t understand them. I just thought the way the black militants protested was so cool. I wasn’t even sure what they were protesting about but it was so cool.

In fact, I really wanted to BE a black militant. And it pained me greatly to know that I would never be able to achieve that revered status, just because I happened to be born the wrong color. So I did the next best thing. I took part in a student protest at SHIT demanding that an African history course be added to the curriculum. There were a lot of student protests in those days demanding African history courses so some SHIT students organized one too.

The SHIT principal responded very shrewdly by giving us exactly what we asked for. African history was added to the curriculum. I signed up right away. But the first indication that our great protest triumph would go terribly wrong came when Mr. Bodean, our regular history teacher, was assigned to teach the class. That wasn’t how it was supposed to work. African history was supposed to be taught by someone who looked like Cornel West or Frederick Douglass. But Bodean was white. He was way smart, too smart to be teaching at SHIT. He should have been teaching at Harvard or something but he was crippled. He had an enormous bald head and he walked funny. He’d be walking along just fine and all of a sudden his feet would skip a little. It was as if his feet were fucking with him just for a laugh. In those days, about the only place a guy who was crippled like Bodean could get a teaching job was at a place like SHIT.

And Bodean had a really screwy idea of what an African history course was supposed to be about. He thought it was supposed to be about the history of the continent of Africa. What a goofball! He never once talked about the protesting black militants. One day Bodean’s lecture was about indigenous crops of Rhodesia, or one of those 12 million African countries. At the top of the hour, he talked about millet and sorghum. I fell asleep. I work up at the end of the hour. He was still talking about millet and sorghum.

I dropped out of African history.