Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Hope Ernie Banks Won’t be Too Pissed if He Ever Finds Out I’m Not Dead

Okay so I have this old black and white glossy of Ernie Banks and me. I’m about 10 years old. The other kids in wheelchairs in the picture are my sister and this random crippled kid whom we never saw again. We’re on Waveland Avenue, right outside the left field bleachers of Wrigley Field. Ernie stands behind us, grinning, dressed in his Cubs uniform.

But nowadays I’m suspicious. Because I wonder who arranged this photo op and how they pulled it off. One thing I know for sure is there’s no way I ever would’ve met Ernie Banks that day if I wasn’t crippled. If Ernie Banks was to come out in full uniform just before a game to meet some kids, I’m sure he insisted that those kids better at least be crippled. Who could blame him? He was a hot shit ballplayer in his prime. Every kid wanted to meet him. His handlers had to have some sort of triage.

But being a mere crippled kid, or even three mere crippled kids, probably wasn’t enough to close the deal with Ernie either. So I wonder if someone sweetened the pot by telling Ernie we were crippled kids who were going to die soon. Whoever told him that might not have been intentionally lying. They might’ve believed it. Every cripple I’ve ever met who was crippled as a child had some doctor or someone say they wouldn’t live to see 10. Even if all the crippled they were was slightly hard of hearing in one ear, some doctor said they wouldn’t live to see 10.

And if somebody told Ernie Banks that meeting him would fulfill my life’s dream, they lied to him about that too. Another thing I know for sure is if I really had been a Make-A-Wish kid, I would have been a fucking terror. I would’ve milked it for every last damn thing I could get. I’d demand to meet the whole Cubs team and to watch the game from the dugout. And I’d pout until they let me pinch hit. And then I’d say “And tomorrow I wanna meet all the Chicago Bears and I wanna play linebacker and I wanna….” I’d push and push until the Make-A-Wish people told me to piss off.

Ernie would probably feel like a sucker if he knew I’m still alive. (And to really rub it in, my sister is still alive too!) It’s like that time I was out with a walkie friend. She was pushing an empty wheelchair. After a few blocks she sat in the chair and held on to my power chair and I pulled her along. We approached a building. An eager pedestrian jumped up to hold the door open for us. My friend tried to tell him it wasn’t necessary but the pedestrian insisted. My friend had trouble pushing the chair through the doorway so she stood and pulled the wheelchair through. I’ll never forget that pedestrian’s searing look of betrayal. You could tell he was flogging himself for wasting his charity on a fake cripple. He would never fall for that cripple sympathy bit ever again.

If Ernie feels similarly duped, he might feel soothed if he considers the fact that, technically, nobody deceived him. Because, in some sense, we’re all dying, aren’t we? Metaphorically, at least?


  1. I have been reading your blog ever since I saw a talk with Roger Ebert about the ability to talk. It was about 20 minutes long and he had prepared a speech with others reading it. It was wonderful and he mentioned your blog as very funny. I have to say that I agree.

    The worst physical malady that I have is Amblyopia which means that visual stimulation either fails to transmit or is poorly transmitted through the optic nerve to the brain for a continuous period of time. It is referred to as lazy eye but luckily my eye "tracks" well and so the only issue I have is no depth perception making fly balls in baseball a rather interesting game of "guess when the ball gets to you."

    I win if the ball is caught or deflected....I lose and the ball ends up in my face. haha... Anyways I like to make fun of myself and feel blessed that the worse thing that is wrong with me is a little sight problem.

    I love reading your blog posts and will continue to love them as you show me how life isn't really about whats wrong with you but what you make of it. Keep it up!

  2. The intended humor of this post is greatly reduced by the fact that Ernie B. is, and was, one of the most gracious gentlemen to ever play ball. He was known to arrive early/stay late for photo ops with kids--be they handicapped or not.
    Generally like your posts but this one was way wide of the mark...

  3. I'm sure you're joking, but thought you might be interested to know Ernie Banks is on Facebook, interacting with fans, as always.

  4. Drop the other shoe... Show us the photo.

  5. First time I've read your blog.
    Like your writing style, tone, and energy. I know that blogs can get tiresome to write, but you've got something good here.

  6. Mike,
    If it helps at all, you're dead to me.