Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Legally Crippled

A curious reader writes:

Dear Smart Ass,

How do I know if someone is really and truly crippled? Is there a legal definition? You know how some people are legally blind? Is there such a thing as legally crippled?

Yours in Wonder,
Mr. Inquisitive

Dear Mr. Inquisitive,
One thing that really pisses me off is how we smug, homocentric humans laugh at dogs when they sniff each other’s ass holes. But I think dogs get the last laugh. We see butt sniffing as crude, but it’s really a sophisticated form of mammalian communication. To humans, all dog butts smell alike. Try an experiment. Put on a blindfold and sniff the butts of five dogs. Then take off the blindfold and try to figure out which dog was which. You’ll fail, because when it comes to olfactory evolution, humans are the primitive ones. When a dog takes a deep, savory sniff of another dogs butt, it’s like a sommelier sloshing wine in his/her mouth, trying to discern the delicate bouquet, the full body, the fruity finish. I bet dogs' butt holes are like human fingerprints or DNA in that they are all unique. No two smell alike to another dog. Dogs' butt holes are the windows to their souls. But only other dogs are advanced enough to know this.

There used to be a big dog in my building named Bob. He liked to sniff people’s butts as well as dog butts. Bob and his human were in the elevator one day when I entered with Andrew, one of my assistants. Bob snuck a sniff of Andrew’s butt before his human yanked him back. Andrew didn’t notice a thing. He faced front, his mind drifting, his eyes fixed on the descending numbers above the elevator door. So later, when he was driving my vehicle, I said to Andrew, “Bob was sniffing your butt!”

Andrew was shocked, indignant “What! When?”

“A little while ago,” I said. “He does it all the time.”

Andrew kept shaking his head in disgust. He couldn’t get over his indignation. He seemed so violated. But it was just a damn dog. Then I remembered Andrew was also an assistant for a quadriplegic, whom he helped that morning before he came to help me. The quad’s name was Bob. So I quickly cleared it up for Andrew exactly which Bob it was that sniffed his butt. He felt much better after that, his faith in humanity restored. Good thing, otherwise Andrew might have sent Bob the quad one helluvan embarrassing resignation letter.

But anyway, for a legal definition of crippledom, most people turn to the Americans with Disabilities Act: “ a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.“ But that’s all bull shit. I’ll tell you how it really works. Every year, there’s a secret meeting of every cripple in the world. It’s called the Every Cripple in the World Meeting. This year it was held at the Holidome in Sandusky, Ohio.

I’m probably going to be killed for divulging all this. But I love you so much, my dear readers, that I’m willing to die for you. The main purpose of the Every Cripple in the World Meeting is for us all to get our secret official cripple stamp, which makes us legally crippled. It’s just like how they stamp your hand when you go to a bar or a concert. Except cripples get their tongues stamped. Because the stamp has to be in a place where cripples can easily show it to other cripples when they meet. But not all cripples can raise their hands. Some cripples don’t even have hands to raise. But nobody’s so crippled that they can’t stick out they’re tongue, unless they’re in a coma.

You have to get your official secret cripple stamp renewed every year or you’re not allowed to be crippled any more. You have to sit it out for a year. Only cripples with up-to-date stamps have the ability to see other cripples’ secret stamps. So, the secret official cripple stamp works on the same principle as butt sniffing in dogs. To the outsider, when two cripples stick their tongues out at each other, it just looks stupid. But those of us who are legally crippled know exactly what it means.

There is a way, however, for an outsider to determine if someone else might be legally crippled. Every cripple who receives an official secret tongue stamp also receives a free gift. This year we all got a brand new four-slice toaster from our good friends at Proctor Silex. So if you suspect someone you know of being legally crippled but you need hard evidence, try to get a look at their toaster.


  1. We have a slightly different system in the UK.

    If you suspect someone of being legally crippled, you post them a letter in a half-A4 brown envelope with an address window, and on a white sheet of paper you type their address in the font known as Courier Bold. Then watch their reaction.

    If they open the envelope and look puzzled that the letter within has only their address on it, they're a walkie-talkie.

    If they scream, flinch, hide the envelope, burst into tears, phone their mother... or conversely shove their mobility aids aside and quite literally dive to the doormat in order to rip open the envelope and check the contents ASAP... and if, upon seeing the blank letter, they don't dare assume it's a mistake and ignore it, but instead speed-dial a disability advice line to find out what is going on... then they are legally crippled, by which I mean they are physically or mentally impaired as per the familiar definition used in the ADA, but further to this they have been legally crippled by the UK welfare system which induces fear and paranoia in all who have contact with it.

    (Also, landing on a doormat doesn't half give you carpet burns.)

  2. I wonder where I fit in. I am quadriplegic, but don't have any spinal damage. There is an area at the base of my back that's suffered some neuropathy, but it's unrelated to the peripheral neuropathy in all four of my limbs. They're damaged from the elbows/knees down.

    So, I'm sort of a quad, with some back issues, but they're unrelated to the rest of the mess...Yup. I'm crippled. Oh yeah, I'm also half deaf and half blind: Sort of half-gimped, really.

  3. I certainly hope we meet someday and if so I will stick out my tongue immediately!!