Friday, September 14, 2012

Where's the Keeper?

I know that facial expression quite well. I’ve seen it a million times. I see it every time a covey of cripples suddenly arrives.

(Cripple etiquette lesson #27: Covey is one of the proper terms to use when referring to a group of cripples. It’s correct because it’s alliterative. However, when referring to specific types of cripples, different alliterative terms apply e.g. a pack of paraplegics, a herd of hemiplegics, a pride of polios or a bevy of brain injured. But any group of between two and eight cripples of mixed or unknown categorization is known as a covey. Any group of more than eight cripples is known as a nursing home field trip.)

But anyway, when cripples converge, I see that all-too-familiar look on the faces of those being converged upon. It’s a look of alarm, except with eyebrows downcast. It’s a searching look. It’s a look that says: Where’s the keeper?

I see that look when cripples protest. Cripples burst in screaming “fuck the fascist pigs” and the cops look around desperately. Where’s the keeper? And then they approach the nearest vert (as in vertical, which is the proper term for a person who can walk). It's as if the cops think cripples are incapable of bursting in and screaming “fuck the fascist pigs” unless some vert puts them up to it.

But I see that look even when a covey of cripples comes in peace, say like to a movie theater or restaurant. The manager has a look of panic. Where’s the keeper?

It happens all the time. I’m guilty too. I went to see a play. It was some Shakespeare deal starring Down Syndrome people. The play began and the only people on stage in Shakespeare outfits were Down Syndrome people. That wasn't what I expected. I said to myself, “Where’s the keeper?” I’m well aware that this means I am an ass hole. But acknowledgement is the first step to recovery.

And sometimes I see that look even when I’m the only cripple in sight. I see it a lot at airports. I see it and then I hear “Are you with him?” That’s the security person addressing whichever member of my pit crew is traveling with me. “Tell him to go over there,” the security person says, as if my pit crew and I communicate in Swahili. And I am left to conclude that apparently I, singlehandedly, look as pathetically intimidating as an entire covey of cripples or drove of dytrophics.

I’ve seen that look everywhere. Where’s the keeper? I’ve seen it at the store around the corner, in the church down the street and everywhere cripples are kept.