And as soon as a boy gets to be about 12 years old he starts thinking about his dream car. He pictures himself cruising in his brand new Corvette or whatever. He’s the coolest thing on wheels. He’s the hottest thing on wheels.
My dream car was a pervert van. That was as big as I could afford to dream.
George had a pervert van. He was my transportation role model. Because he was way more crippled than me but he really got around. Pervert vans, everyone knows, are those vans without windows. Inside they are just bare metal. No carpet. No flooring. Bare metal walls. At the height of summer, it’s like an oven inside a pervert van. There were only three kinds of people who would buy such a vehicle: 1) small business operators hauling stuff like lumber or drywall, 2) perverts, 3) cripples without a lot of money.
I’m sure these bare-bones vans were never intended by their creators for use by perverts or cripples. But right around the time I turned 12, crafty cripples like George figured out that pervert vans were a cheap and efficient way to get around. Riding in a big old van like that, you could stay in your motorized wheelchair. You didn’t have to dismember your chair so it could fit in a car trunk.
Pervert vans were sort of like these new vans that were recently put in service to take cripples like me to school. They were school-bus yellow. The driver slid open the side door, deployed a sturdy metal ramp and I rolled up and in.
Of course there were windows in the school bus vans. But since pervert vans didn’t have frills like windows, they had much lower price tags. It was also expensive as hell to have one of those metal ramps installed. But never fear, because you could do like George and use a couple of 2 by 4s as a makeshift ramp instead: side door slid open and 2 by 4s lined up the exact distance apart as the width of your wheelchair’s wheel span. You roll up. You hear the 2 by 4s moan and feel them bow and you pray like a mofo that they won’t snap or shift out from under your wheels before you make it to the top.
In the school bus van they firmly secured my wheelchair in place so that if they hit the brakes I wouldn’t turn somersaults, wheelchair and all. They tied the chair down with heavy-duty straps bolted to the floor.
But those straps cost mucho dinero, too. So George employed the 2 by 4s again as poor-man’s securement devices. Lay one on the floor across the front of the wheelchair, wedged under both front wheels and do the same with the other across the back. In the event of a sudden stop or swerve this will hold you in place, sort of.
I never figured that when grew up I would ever have pockets overflowing with money, like the school district. But that was okay because I would still be able to get around as long as I could scrape up enough to buy a pervert van and couple 2 by 4s, like George. He was so damn cool. He was such an inspiration.