Every year around this time, the state of Illinois sends someone to my home to make sure I’m still crippled. The state pays the wages of the guys I hire to get me out of bed, put me on the crapper etc., so the state needs to know that I’m still crippled.
So the cripple inspector asks me a bunch of routine questions and I sign a bunch of papers and for another year I am deemed to be officially crippled in the eyes of the state. There is of course a much simpler test the inspectors could administer to determine if I’m still crippled and it saves a lot of time and money. They could just take my pulse. If I’m still alive, I’m still crippled. And the state can rest assured that if something ever happens to suddenly render me not crippled anyone, they will for sure hear about it. There’s no way in hell that if one day I wake up not crippled I’ll hush it all up and sit around the house pretending to still be crippled. I’ll cash in big time right away on my new uncrippled status. It’s a fucking goldmine. I’ll get an agent to book me on a world tour as the guy who spent more than 50 years crippled but now all of a sudden isn’t. I’ll land a zillion-dollar book deal!
The last time the inspector came, she snuck in a question that took me by surprise. She asked me to spell the word “world” backward. I hesitated because she came out of the blue with that one. But then I spelled world backward. She wrote something down and she moved on to the next question. But I couldn’t leave it at that. After I signed all the papers, I asked her why she asked me to spell world backward. She shrugged. She said it’s just something someone somewhere added to the requirements for meeting the burden of proof that we’re still crippled.
I must’ve passed the test because I haven’t received a letter from the state informing me that I’m not crippled. But I still couldn’t leave it at that. There was something deeply sinister about the innocence of that question. It seemed like a trap, like those Rorschach blots. They look like a butterfly or a clown, but they’re so intimidating because you feel like if you interpret them wrong and say the wrong thing, it will give the shrink an excuse to lock you up.
So why really was the state requiring me to spell world backward? Needing a source of infallible, irrefutable information, I turned to the Internet. I learned that spelling world backward is a cognitive function test. It allows the examiner to tap into your cortex, which is the area largely responsible for higher brain functions, such as reasoning, sensations and memory.
I felt violated. Why was the state snooping around in my cortex? That seems like the kind of thing a state ought not to be allowed to do without a warrant. It creeped me out to think that the state could now be privy to all my sensations. And what about my memories? Did they discover any of the stuff in my past that I’m not proud of and I don’t want anybody to know about, such as the time I got my mom’s French poodle stoned? My mom went away and I had a party and one of the stoners who came over said you can get a dog stoned by blowing smoke in its ear. I should have known better than to tell a stoner they’re full of shit when they claim something like that, because you know damn well they’ll try to prove it. So he lifted the poodle’s ear and blew smoke. And the dog got a paranoid look on its face and it wouldn’t leave my side. And then it slept for about 12 hours.
And what do the inspectors do with all they gather from having me spell world backward? I picture them all drunk on eggnog at the Department of Human Service office Christmas party, entertaining everyone with tales of the sick and twisted shit they discovered while ransacking my cortex.
Next time the inspector comes around, I might just refuse to spell world backward. I’ll slam the door to my cortex! But they might use that as an excuse to say I’m not crippled anymore and cut me off. And then I’d be screwed. This is the kind of stuff you have to submit to when you need someone to put you on the crapper.