Within the wonderfully motley parade of cripples that were my classmates at the Chicago Public elementary school for crippled kids, the one who stands out most in my mind is Condoleeza (Smart Ass Cripple alias).
I think about her often and I wonder if she ever got a nose. She literally didn’t have a nose. Apparently that’s why they sent her to the cripple school because there was really nothing else crippled about her. She talked like someone with a stuffed nose, but besides that she could walk and run and jump double dutch like any other kid.
Condoleeza had a fake nose. She was copper-skinned African American and her fake nose was several shades darker. I don’t know who made her fake nose for her. It looked like it was fashioned out of clay or hard rubber like a hockey puck. It sort of looked like a nose, being a vaguely wedge-shaped mound with two nostrils bored into the bottom. Since it was only attached with glue, often Condoleezza’s nose fell off and bounced to the floor, sometimes out of the blue like right in the middle of lunch. She’d retrieve it and run off to the school nurse to have it glued back on.
I give Condoleeza credit. She didn’t let fear of losing her nose stop her from wrestling around and jumping into the double dutch. But of course when her nose came off during fun and games like that, all we dumbass other kids freaked out and scattered, like when there’s a turd in the swimming pool. So sometimes the school attendants, in their white uniforms, made Condoleeza sit off to the side with the kids who weren’t allowed to play rough at recess, like the bleeders and the brittle bones kids. They played checkers and boring stuff like that.
Condoleezza’s homemade nose was a symbol of the economic inequality in America. She lived in a rundown public housing project high rise, in a land forsaken by rhinoplasty. No doubt if she was born in Beverly Hills, she never would have been banished to the cripple school. There would have been an all points bulletin to be on the lookout for a cadaver with just the right skin tone to serve as her nose transplant donor. At the very least, she would have had an amazingly lifelike prosthetic firmly welded into place.
But not poor Condoleeza.