I am openly crippled. “No shit,” I hear my inner heckler say. “Once again you demonstrate your amazing ability to grasp the obvious.”
Ah but there’s a big difference between being obviously crippled and being openly crippled. One can be as obviously crippled as Stephen Hawking with his head cut off and still not be openly crippled.
Here’s what I mean. Think about gay people. More specifically, think about Liberace. He was so bloody obviously gay but he wasn’t openly gay.
Cripples become openly crippled when we decide we’re not going to apologize anymore for being crippled. That’s the day we’re born again. I suppose it’s the same when you become openly anything else, like openly gay or openly fat or openly poor or openly whatever.
A huge weight is lifted when we become openly crippled. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows from there. When people get pissed off at us for being openly crippled, it’s never the crippled part that pisses them off. It’s the openly part. When we impose our crippledness on others we’re supposed to at least be contrite about. At least pretend that we wouldn’t be who we are if we had any choice in the matter. Again, I suppose it’s the same when you’re gay or poor or fat or whatever.
I became openly crippled about 30 years ago when I took up the sport of public transportation bus blocking. This sport was invented in other cities by cripples who were disgusted because they wanted to ride public transportation like everyone else but the buses weren’t accessible. So they rolled their wheelchairs out onto the streets and blocked buses in protest until the powers that be relented and made public transportation accessible.
Hearing stories about the bus blocking brigades was exciting, but it gave me a bad case of political blue balls. I was all worked up and ready for action but I had no means of release. Fortunately, there were other cripples in my town suffering from the same political malady and we found each other and formed our own bus blocking franchise.
I got the same thrill out of bus blocking that some people get out of deer hunting. I’d bag a bus and I’d hoot and holler. Too bad I couldn’t take it home and mount it on my wall.
And of course, by being so openly crippled and all, some people got pissed off at us. One woman screamed, “You all gotta move! I gotta get to Jenny Craig!” I said, “Don’t worry. You don’t need it.” She stormed off. But I meant it as a compliment.
The older and more crippled I become, the more openly crippled I become. But I’m still a work in progress. I haven’t completely reached the point where I never give an utter shit about being considered a societal inconvenience. I hope I live long enough to see that day.