Maybe I’m hallucinating. It wouldn’t be the first time.
But I swear to God I remember kids at the elementary school for cripples who walked around on crutches with one leg tied behind their back. They had a strap hanging from the back of their pants and the strap had a hook on the end that hooked to a loop on the back of the heel of their shoe. And they walked around the cripple school like that for about a year it seemed and then suddenly they were walking around on two feet like regular kids and soon they were gone, back to regular school.
We called them Sliptos, short for their crazy diagnosis name, that sounded like a name of a Roman Gladiator or a dinosaur— something like Slipto Pithusis. All the crippled kids had crazy diagnosis names like that, but this was a new one on us.
According to the Internet, which is never wrong, there’s something called Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis. Maybe that’s what it was. It basically means a hip slipped out of joint. But whenever a regular kid became a Slipto kid, they shipped them out of regular school and off to cripple school until they became regular again.
That’s what happened to all kids who weren’t regular. They sent them to cripple school. There was a girl at the elementary school for cripples who walked like a pigeon. I don’t know what her crazy diagnosis name was. Maybe her diagnosis name was Walks Like a Pigeon, because there was nothing else wrong with her. She could hear and see and talk just fine. She didn’t coo or anything like that. She just walked like a pigeon. We didn’t know why she walked like a pigeon. We thought maybe she was abandoned as an infant and raised by pigeons. They sent her to physical therapy and all. I have no idea what sort of physical therapy you give someone to get them to stop walking like a pigeon. But apparently it didn’t work because she kept walking like a pigeon.
And then there was Stevie, the round black kid who out of the blue would sing out SUPERMAAAAAN! He sang it out on the top of his lungs. You could hear it all the way down the hall: SUPERMAAAAAAN! Maybe it was Tourette’s before they called it Tourette’s. They sent him to physical therapy too but it didn’t stop him from singing. Stevie was also in a wheelchair but it wouldn’t have mattered. They wouldn’t have let him go to regular school even if he could walk, not as long as he insisted on bellowing out SUPERMAAAAN! It just wasn’t regular.
But I’m still around crippled people every day, and I haven’t seen a Slipto in about 45 years. The Internet says kids with Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis are treated by surgery. I guess they get back to being regular a whole lot faster now, without going through medieval therapies. There isn’t time to banish them to cripple island anymore.
Sometimes I ask younger generations of cripples if they ever met a Slipto. I tell them about the kids with one leg tied behind their back. They look at me like they’re concerned for my mental health.
They don’t understand. Once upon a time, there really were Sliptos. I saw them with my own eyes! But now they’re extinct.
Or maybe I’m hallucinating.