I was on television in Chicago recently. I didn’t see it but I know I was on television because the last time Mike H saw me he said, “You were on television, weren’t you?” He said that because people kept coming up to him on the street recently and saying, “You were on television, weren’t you?”
That because Mike H. looks just like me. He looks just like me in the sense that he’s a white guy with a beard and he’s about my age and he’s in a wheelchair. Mike H. doesn’t have arms but no matter. That’s a small detail. He’s a white guy with a beard and he’s about my age and he’s in a wheelchair so he looks just like me.
I know how Mike H. feels. A few summers ago people on the street kept coming up to me out of the blue and saying, “You sure do sing nice.” I didn’t know what the hell they we’re all talking about. But then I ran into Mark K and it all clicked. Mark K told me he sang the national anthem before the Cubs game. And Mark K. looks just like me in the sense that he’s a white guy with a beard and he’s about my age and he’s in a wheelchair. I do bear slightly more of a resemblance to Mark K. than I do to Mike H. because Mark K. has both arms. And people come up to me on the street every summer, every time Mark K. sings the national anthem. “You sure do sing nice.” And I pray that Mark K. never goes berserk and sets out on a wild, cross country bank robbing spree. The FBI will release a sketch of the wanted suspect and everyone will think it’s me. The news anchor will say “police are looking for a bearded white guy in his 50s in a wheelchair” and the minute I leave my home I’ll be apprehended. Poor Mike H. will be arrested too. But we’ll probably be released for lack of evidence. When they put us in a police lineup with four other bearded white guys in their 50s in wheelchairs, most people won’t be able to tell any of us apart.
Some people must think cripples all talk alike too. Stephen Hawking has one of those talking boxes with a robot voice. My friend Larry B. has one of those talking boxes with a robot voice too. Therefore Larry B. talks just like Stephen Hawking. Wouldn’t it be great to turn on the television and see Stephen Hawking on the field at the ballpark singing the national anthem in a robot voice? I think that would be so cool. But it would be really super cool to see Stephen Hawking on Dancing with the Stars! His dance partner would be a stripper doing a pole dance. And Hawking dances the role of the front row customer. He sits there leering, a dollar bill hanging from his mouth. The stripper, hanging from the pole, whirls by and snatches the dollar and stuffs it in her cleavage.
Seeing Stephen Hawking going around doing all that stuff would be so awesome! But none of it will happen soon if ever. Humans haven’t reached that stage of enlightenment yet. I’m sure Hawking would be game, but the producers will have none of it. To have someone like him singing the national anthem would be considered insensitive, unpatriotic, creepy. Modern civilization doesn’t yet have the capacity to process such an unabashed blast of advanced cripple awesomeness.
But if the day ever comes when Stephen Hawking sings the national anthem, people will come up to Larry B. on the street and say, “You sure do sing nice.”