Children are naturally inquisitive. So it’s perfectly logical that when they encounter a real live cripple, their curiosity will be piqued. Therefore, it’s important for mature, adult cripples like me to always be patient and cheerful when dealing with the stares and comments of children. After all, the children are the future leaders of America. We have to remember that every personal interaction with them presents a golden opportunity to teach them valuable lessons about people who are crippled and to have a profound and lasting impact on their impressionable young minds.
But sometimes that’s so fucking hard to do. Sometimes, you just want to flatten the little rude bastards.
Like one time my sister, Teena, was at the Brookfield Zoo. She visited one of those natural habitat houses, where the animals run free and humans observe them from walkways above. Birds flew around in this habitat. Big birds. Sometimes they flew up onto the walkways and walked amongst the humans.
So there’s my sister, sitting in her wheelchair by the railing, looking down on the jungle below. Suddenly she feels a jolt from behind. Somebody walked right smack into the back of her wheelchair. And then she feels these grubby hands pawing all over the top of her head. And then she heard a young boy’s voice say “What the hell is this?” Apparently this brilliant little future Rhodes Scholar thought Teena was some kind of weird, prehistoric bird, like a pterodactyl or something.
Who would blame Teena if she would have whirled her chair around, snarled like a man-eating pterodactyl and chased the kid full-throttle right out of the zoo?
And then there was the time I was rolling down a sidewalk in Washington D.C., just minding my own damn business. This kid, about age 9, walks past me. He was so busy staring back over his shoulder at me that he walked right into a stoplight pole and landed flat on his butt!
Ha! There was no need for me to flatten that kid. God did it for me.
I laughed hard. Don’t worry. The kid was fine. He sat on his butt, rubbing his nose and looking stunned. He learned a valuable lesson about cripples that day. I hope it had a profound and lasting impact on his impressionable young mind.