The frame of Rahnee’s new wheelchair is hot pink. That’s a big deal. It wasn’t long ago that such a frivolity was severely frowned upon. Riding around in a hot pink wheelchair was considered as disrespectful as showing up to a funeral dressed like a drag queen wearing fishnets and a feather boa.
Wheelchairs came only in colors synonymous with infirmity or mourning. But then cripples started demanding jazzier color options. And so today’s criplets, when they order a wheelchair, get to choose from an ever expanding spectrum of colors with fancy names. Like for instance yellow, green and blue are called like finch, moss and cobalt.
You’re welcome, criplets.
Yes, we’ve come a long way, but there’s still much work to be done. Susan told me when she ordered a new chair, she wanted a leopard skin colored frame. But the wheelchair people told her there was no such thing, unless they made her something custom, which of course they would be more than happy to do for three or four extra buckets full of cash.
But that’s bullshit. Leopard skin should be standard, dammit. This is the 21st Century! So when the present generation of criplets emerges as a potent political force, it will be up to them to press that demand, so the criplets that follow them can have leopard skin in the standard color spectrum, as America’s founding fathers intended.
And of course there’s an even greater political frontier in dire need of conquest: upholstery. Wheelchair frames may come in all kinds of crazy colors, but the upholstery is always the blackest black. On the color spectrum, it would be called something like widow. But I dream of the day when wheelchair upholstery will come in all kinds of crazy patterns, like leopard skin, rainbow, acid trip and Picasso’s Blue Nude.
But our work still won’t be done until not only are all these choices standard but it’s all covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Right now, about the only wheelchairs Medicare and Medicaid will pay for are the ones made out of wicker and wood.
Bringing about this policy shift will be the political frontier for the first wave of cripples who role around like cocky roosters in chairs with hot pink frames and gold sequined upholstery. They’ll be the cripple equivalent of drag queens. And they will serve the same vital political purpose as the drag queens by shaking things up, not just in polite society but among the assimilationist cripples as well. When the brash young cripples in their blaring wheelchairs show up for cripple lobby days at state capitols, the assimiliationist cripples will crap in their pants and spew their cappuccino. They know the Higher Power is easily spooked. The delicate negotiations could well be ruined by such militant upholstery.
But there’s no turning back now. Hot pink is only the start.