Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Full Liberation

I made it. I’m on the list. I should be ecstatic.

There it is. Muscular dystrophy. That’s me. I’m smack in the middle of the list of conditions that now make one eligible to legally receive medical marijuana in Illinois. I’m right there among a bunch of other lucky bustards who have conditions like arachnoiditis, Tarlov cysts, hydromyelia, syringomyelia or cachexia aka wasting syndrome.

The law took effect January 1. For some cripples on that list, this means the moment of complete liberation has finally arrived. All the years of political struggle have finally have paid off with the ultimate legislative victory. For some cripples I know, all they want is a warm place to take their daily dump and the right to get high in peace. Of course I know plenty of people like that who aren’t crippled, too. Who doesn’t?

 For those cripples, utopia is finally here. And all you need to enter is a doctor’s prescription. And this utopia is a much sweeter place when only cripples can get in and only certain cripples at that.  If this was a state like Colorado where any old slob can waltz in and buy pot, it would take almost all the fun out it because that would take away the revenge factor. Cripples on the medical marijuana VIP list can use the new law to get even with all the punks who used to call them spaz. The VIP cripples can throw a Bygones-be-Bygones party and invite all the punks who used to call them spaz. Then the VIP cripples can gleefully blow smoke in the faces of the punks and say, “Don’t you wish you were a spaz now, mofo?”

There’s another great reason I should sign up right away. The law allows cripples who qualify for medicinal pot to select a “designated caregiver” to assist in administering their pot. This would enable me to finally provide some upward mobility for the members of my pit crew. Whoever plays their cards right gets promoted by me to the position of designated caregiver. There’s no extra pay but there’s a definite fringe benefit. Technically, the designated caregiver isn’t allowed to partake of my stash but hey, if I happen to turn my back for a few minutes---.

Rahnee’s on the list, too. Rheumatoid arthritis. That’s her. We should both sign up right now. We could take our legal pot and say fuck it all and go spend the rest of our lives someplace where it’s always warm and comfortable, like our couch.

There’s no good reason why I shouldn’t sign up. So why haven’t I? Maybe there’s something wrong with me. Maybe I’m one of those greedy, grabby, entitled cripples who’s never satisfied. You let them get high with impunity and they still want more. They still insist on being “full participants in society” and blah blah blah.

I should just declare victory, take my pot and go home. Full liberation is just a prescription away.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Helen Keller Died for Our Sins

I admire Helen Keller for a lot of reasons.  First of all, no other cripple has an entire genre of jokes dedicated them. Yeah sure, some Helen Keller jokes are stale and stupid. But some are pretty funny. But that’s not the point. I wish I was famous enough to have a genre of jokes about me. (How many Smart Ass Cripples does it take to screw in a light bulb?) I wouldn’t care how damn stupid the jokes were. It would be a real kick just to figure that prominently in the public discourse.

Helen Keller is probably the most famous cripple who ever lived. She’s so famous there should be a Helen Keller commemorative, collectible bobblehead doll. That’s another way to measure your cultural prominence. You know you’ve really arrived when the bobblehead people make a doll out of you. It’s the highest civilian honor. So if the bobblehead people were going to make a bobblehead doll of the most famous cripple, they’d probably choose Helen Keller. Ray Chares would deserve serious consideration as would the two Stevies, Wonder and Hawking. But if there was a ballot initiative asking voters which famous cripple should have a commemorative bobblehead doll issued in their honor, I bet Helen Keller would win.

Helen Keller was the crippled Jackie Robinson in that she was the first cripple to step up to the plate, so to speak.  When people made ignorant, crude, boorish comments to Jackie Robinson, he just had to grin and bear it. “Thank you, sir. May I have another?” I don’t know how he took it. I know I sure as hell couldn’t have done that. The minute somebody called me the “n” word, I would have beat them to a pulp with my baseball bat.

I bet people made a lot of ignorant comments to Helen Keller, like “Oh you’re such an inspiration” or “I so admire your courage.” But no matter what, she had to shrug it off. She couldn’t fight back. Again, it’s a good thing it wasn’t me. After hearing that about four or five times, I’d have been ready to kick the next person who said it square in the balls.

Now imagine how different things would be if Helen Keller lost her cool and kicked somebody in the balls. But she couldn’t so much as emit a sarcastic huff. Exercising such superhuman restraint must have taken a heavy toll on her.

 Helen Keller took that bullet for future generations of cripples. She bore that burden so we wouldn’t have to.  So now I can make a smart ass retort without worrying about screwing things up for other cripples. Because no matter how much I come off as a bitter little caustic wisenheimer, there’s always the stoic, noble image of Helen Keller as a counterbalance. And so cripples receive the benefit of the doubt that maybe they’re not all like me.

Thus, I am free to indulge in smart assery. And I owe it all to Helen Keller.

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Cripple Cash

Oh hell! Here it is. I knew this day was coming.

They launched a new lottery here in Illinois called Veteran’s Cash. It’s $2 a ticket and all proceeds “benefit Illinois veterans organizations.” It was unveiled with great fanfare. The governor flew around the state and held press conferences.

But I feel a sense of foreboding. Because maybe this is the pilot project that will develop into the new system of funding human services in the brave new world. You know how it works. The money generated by lotteries always has to go to support something “good.” That’s how we rationalize gambling. The Illinois lottery funds “education.” So if you’re pissing away your paycheck, it’s okay because you’re investing in our children, who are the future leaders of this great nation.

So you’d think that by now there would be so much education money that the daily school lunch would be steak tartare and every cafeteria would have a soft drink sommelier. But noooooooo! Some school districts are forced to stretch meager resources by using chalk as both a writing implement and a sautéed side dish for lunch.

That’s because with lottery bucks covering education, the state can take bucks that would have gone to education and spend them elsewhere. So the same thing will happen to the poor veterans. With their own lottery pumping in cash, the state will probably divert away the funds currently in the vet line item.

And soon after that there may be a whole bunch of competing lotteries funding the wide variety of human services line items. How about Cripple Cash? By pissing away your paycheck, you’re paying the wages of people who help cripples like me get our asses out of bed. And then the government can take all the tax money cripples eat up and give it to those who need it most. The rich

This sort of funding scheme ought to satisfy even the libertarians, who firmly believe that no government should be able to force its citizens to be decent human beings against their will. When someone buys a cripple cash lottery ticket, they are yielding their hard-earned money to the public treasury voluntarily! So the libertarians can shut the fuck up!

But this scheme scares me because it’s so cutthroat. When it comes to persuading citizens to piss away their paychecks on us, cripples will face stiff competition from the likes of abused and neglected children or old people who need new hips. They will also have their own lotteries.  The competition will all devolve into a titanic p.r. battle of poster children for each needy line item—a grotesque telethon.

If we must find new, non-coercive, revenue streams to fund the things cripples need, I propose a Kardashian  tax.  I mean, if somebody buys a skirt or something just because the Kardashians put their name on it, they deserve to pay extra. Except I wouldn’t want to link this tax to any one specific celebrity, because what happens when their designer stuff is inevitably swept into the discount bin of history?  Let’s just make it a general Vacuous Celebrity Items sales tax. That way we can slap this tax on everything from perfume to basketball shoes. That ought to bring in billions! All proceeds support cripples. 

 But what I want most of all is to put dibs on the pot concession. Make pot legal, hang a big fat sales tax on it and pass the money on to the cripples. That ought to set us up quite well for a good long time. It’s a cash stream that will never run dry. There will always be potheads. You can count on that.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Damage I Caused as a Drunken Santa

I played Santa Claus once in my life.  I was pretty drunk and I regret it. I worry to this day about the damage I may have caused.

It was a Christmas party in the basement of my old apartment building and a mom was there with her four-month-old baby. And the mom set that baby on my lap.  So I was that child’s first Santa. And I still remember how,after one look at me, the placid expression on that infant’s face twisted into a look of deep bewilderment verging on horror. The mother whisked her baby away but I fear the damage was already done.

Because you know what the experts say. They say children are profoundly affected by things that happen to them at times they can’t even remember, like in  the first few years after they exit the womb or even while they are still in the womb. So you have to be real careful what you expose a child or fetus to because it’s easy to screw them up good without you or them even knowing it.  That’s a pretty freaky thing to consider. I don’t remember whether that baby on my lap was a boy or girl.  But I feel remorse when I walk a mile in that baby’s diapers. I think about how I would have felt as a baby seeing a drunken me dressed like Santa Claus looming above. Surely that left a scar. A baby's tiny subconscious isn't developed enough to process existential terror.

But that was a long time ago and we as a society didn’t know what we know now. Hell. I remember the days when pregnant woman got drunk on their asses. We now know that can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which can cause brain damage, facial malformations, learning disabilities and other brutal stuff like that. But how much do we still not know? I mean, not long ago I saw a pregnant woman eating a Twinkie and I said to myself, “What the fuck!” I bet soon scientists will discover a horrible thing called Fetal Twinkie Syndrome. And what about when newborns sleep in cribs in the same bedroom where the parents are getting it on? It may seem harmless, but the baby’s tiny subconscious absorbs it all.

Who knows what we still don’t know? So you can’t be too careful.

I often think about that baby on my Santa Claus lap. I think about him/her whenever a former child star breaks into a rage and punches out a mall cop. I think about him/her when Rahnee watches that depressing TV show about hoarders.  And I’m convinced that’s what became of the infant I subliminally traumatized. I wish I could take it all back. But like I said, I didn’t know better. And I was drunk.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Danger to Yourself and Others

Here’s a situation every cripple ends up in sooner or later:

You’re in a public venue, like say at a Rolling Stones concert. You’re sitting in your wheelchair anywhere outside the designated cripple corral. An usher tells you to move because you are a fire hazard, a liability, a danger to yourself and others. If you don’t move, says the usher, “The fire marshal’s going to come here and shut this place down!”

So here’s my question:

Has it ever actually played out like that? The fire marshal is home all snug in his bed, visions of sugar plums dancing in his head. The phone rings. His sleep is shattered. He lifts his sleep mask. He answers, groggy. The voice on the other end says, “I’m sorry to disturb you, sir, but we’ve got big trouble at the Rolling Stones concert. It’s a 10-93!” (That’s fire department code for “cripple sitting outside designated cripple coral.”)

Back at the concert, the Stones are in the middle of Jumpin’ Jack Flash, when suddenly, the fire marshal and his crew mount the stage. The fire marshal snatches the mic from Mick. “Attention! This is the fire marshal,” he announces. “There is a cripple sitting outside the designated cripple coral. Everyone must evacuate immediately. Exit in an orderly fashion and please do not panic.”

And here’s my other question:

How rich does a cripple have to be before nobody ever calls you a liability or a danger to yourself and others anymore? Because that’s how things seem to work in the world of the verts (which is short for verticals, which is slang for people who walk). Once a vert reaches a certain level of affluence, they can pull any crazy-ass stunt they want. They do it all the time. They try to cross the ocean in a hot air balloon or catapult to the top of Mount Everest. Any vert who’s rich enough can seal him/herself in a translucent ball the size of the Capitol, hire a crew of day laborers to push it off the top of the Empire State building and bounce to the Antarctic. And don’t say it’s a victimless crime. Don’t say it poses no danger to others. Because if something goes wrong, who has to rescue that rich person’s sorry ass?

I suppose the cripples who are rich enough to never be called a liability are the ones who are rich enough to experience country club discrimination. They try to join the country club but they are rebuffed. They are hurt and indignant, stung by injustice. “You must let me in,” they demand, “so that I can be an elitist snob, too.”

They are the Martin Luther Kings of the country club.