Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Rough Day


The guy sitting at a table in the coffee shop looks like he had a really rough day. I can tell by the way he’s looking at me. He’s smiling at me, but he also looks like he’s about to cry. It’s a humble smile of gratitude. I’m expecting that any second now he’ll raise his paper cup and salute me with a silent toast.

I don’t know the guy. But I assume the reason he appears to feel indebted to me is because I came along at precisely the right time. Something must've happened to him today that had him wallowing in self-pity, which is a downright un-American thing to be doing. And then I rolled in and saved him. I, with my mere crippled presence, reminded him that no matter how rough his day was, he’ll never have it as rough as some people do so all in all he should thank his lucky stars.

I feel creepy when I think people are looking at me that way. But I don’t blame the guy. I do the same thing, even though I know it’s bull shit. Everybody does it. Even cripples. It’s one of the ways humans find the strength to carry on. When I have an exceptionally rough day, I remember stories I’ve heard about people who commit suicide by throwing themselves in front of oncoming commuter trains. And then I think about the people whose job it is to clean that shit up. And I say to myself, “Well damn, at least I don’t have to scrape human entrails off a railroad track on this or any other day.” And I tell myself to stop whining.

The people who have to clean up big gruesome messes like that all deserve medals as far as I’m concerned. They should have an annual awards banquet for them, like the Oscars. Red carpet. Everyone’s all glittered up. The nominees are announced, each one with a tragic and gruesome clean up tale involving a fire, an earthquake, a moose stampede. “And the winner is—.“ But really they all deserve medals, don't they? Everyone should at least receive a certificate of recognition.

I think the guy in the coffee shop is picturing an annual awards banquet for cripples like me. I bet I know what happened to him today to make his day so rough that he could only find solace in comparing his lot to mine. I bet somebody jumped in front of an oncoming commuter train and he had to clean it up.





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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Cripples with Power

What if I was a judge? Don’t panic, it’s not likely to happen any time soon. I haven’t even been to law school or anything. But then again, considering some of the idiots who become judges, you never know.

But I bitch a lot about injustice so what if I could do something about it by being a judge? I’d like to think that I would develop a reputation as a wise, fair and benevolent arbiter of justice. But if I was a judge, it’s more likely that I would be an asshole, through no fault of my own. Because places of power, like being a judge, aren’t built for cripples like me, because people don’t associate cripples like me with being in places of power. So that would put me under tremendous pressure to overcompensate to prove I belonged.

Judges in courtrooms are always on high so they can look down on the rest of us. Those are the people everybody respects the most—the ones who look down on us. But in order for me to get up to my judge’s perch in my wheelchair, someone would have to build me a crazy, winding ramp. The bailiff says “all rise” and I make my entrance up the crazy, winding ramp and I already look like a doofus. But I’d better not hear so much as a snicker out of anybody because I’m a judge, goddammit, and my courtroom is a dictatorship with me in charge! If anyone says “boo” I can slap their asses with contempt of court. And I will! Just try me!

Judges always also sit behind desks that are pointlessly enormous. I don’t know why their desks are so enormous. It’s not like they do anything with those desks except bang gavels on them. One of those folding television trays would work just fine as a desk for a judge, but a pointlessly enormous desk is much more intimidating. And those are the people everybody respects the most—the ones who intimidate us.

So if I was a judge, I’d look like a dork sitting behind that enormous desk in my wheelchair because the desk would be way too high. It would come up to about my eyes and I’d barely be able to see over the top and once again everyone would be tempted to snicker. So I’d have to have a much lower and smaller desk that wouldn’t be nearly as intimidating and people would still snicker. I couldn’t win.

The more you don’t fit in the more you overcompensate. So in order to command respect as an authority figure, I’d probably become a hard-ass judge, sentencing jaywalkers to the guillotine. That’s what happens when you give a cripple like me a little power.



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Monday, April 10, 2017

My "Special Needs" Entourage

I hate to say it, but I’m rapidly becoming one of those “special needs” people. Whenever I write or say “special needs” I always put it in quotes because, I don’t know, it just seems like the kind of thing that should always be put in quotes.

But the older I get the more crippled I get. And the more crippled I get the more “special” my “needs” become. Pretty soon I’m gonna need an entourage of specialists to follow me around and meet my “special needs.”

Here are some of the job titles:

Waker upper. These are the people who will follow me around carrying cattle prods and or Taser guns. Because now every night I have to sleep hooked up to bulky-ass breathing machine because I go through long periods where I stop breathing while I’m sleeping. I call it Old Cripple Syndrome. And when the doctor prescribed the machine for me he told me I’d better not ever sleep without it, not even for one night, or my brain might get starved for oxygen and that could cause me to have a heart attack or stroke. And he said I’d better not even doze off while riding in the car or reading or anything without being hooked up to my machine. And now I hate that doctor for being honest with me like that because now I’m paranoid about spontaneously falling asleep. It’s terrifying to think about what might happen to me if my brain was deprived of oxygen, even for a few minutes. I might turn into a republican.

So the job of my waker upper will be to remain alert and vigilant and if I ever doze off without my machine, shock me back to consciousness.

Straw caddy. Every time I drink something, I drink it through a straw. This is very frustrating because the vast majority of humans are enormously unschooled when it comes to straws and thus they assume that one straw design fits all.

But that’s bullshit. If you don’t believe me, try drinking a Martini through a McDonald’s straw. The straw will just fall out of the glass and roll off the table to the floor. Proper consumption of a Martini requires using a short, narrow bar straw. But try to drink a McDonald’s shake using one of those bar straws. You’ll suck so hard you’ll give yourself an aneurysm. Standard lightweight plastic straws fall out of glasses containing bubbly beverages like champagne because the bubbles push them out. Only heavyweight straws made of hard plastic or metal can stand their ground in a bubbly beverage. And drinking out of a tall vessel like a pint glass requires using a straw that bends.

Etc.

So my straw caddy will be the keeper of my vast array of straws for all occasions. And whenever a beverage is placed before me, she/he will withdraw precisely the right straw from the quiver.

Stunt cripple. Our infrastructure is crumbling. It seems like the terrain in the city is getting rougher by the day. When I see a curb ramp that’s as steep as a toboggan slide with a gaping pothole at the bottom, I have visions of myself being whiplashed like a ragdoll and then catapulting out of my wheelchair if I try to roll down it. I’m getting too old for shit like that so that’s when I'll call in my stunt cripple to tackle all the rugged terrain for me. Also, I feel really guilty when activist cripples invite me to protests where they march 10 miles in the cold. I feel obligated to join them but I’m getting too old for that shit too. So I'll send my stunt cripple to be my protesting proxy.


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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Blind Mummy on an Insane Cold Day




Suppose I mug you. And then suppose you give the police a description of me. And suppose you say, “He was a white guy about 60 years old with a beard and too much belly.”

And suppose that after about a week the police come back to you and say they haven’t found a suspect to arrest because there are about a million guys in the city who fit that description. And suppose the police ask you if you have any other information that might aid them in their search. And then suppose you say, “Well, there is one little detail I neglected to mention. He’s crippled and he rides around in a motorized wheelchair.”

How do you suppose the police will react? My guess is that they’ll be pretty pissed that that wheelchair stuff wasn’t the first thing you told them. And then suppose you say something to the police like, “Well, I was trying to look beyond his wheelchair. I was trying to see the person and not the wheelchair. We shouldn’t let his wheelchair define him. There’s so much more to him than that.”

That would be silly. The police might even turn around and arrest you for committing an act of criminal misplaced sensitivity in the first degree. And I wouldn’t blame them. Because the first thing everybody sees when they see me is a guy in a wheelchair. Hell, the first thing I see when I look in the mirror is a guy in a wheelchair. I may be crippled, but I ain’t fucking blind.

My crippledness is the most significant thing about me. I suppose I can understand why some people are reluctant to let others define cripples based on our crippledness. Because a lot of people define being crippled as being fucked up. But if cripples want to redefine crippledness so that they can shed the burden of going around pretending like their crippledness doesn’t impact their lives in a major way, then they have to stop going around pretending like their crippledness doesn’t impact their lives in a major way.

Like for instance, a few months back we had one of those insane cold days in Chicago where if you’re outdoors for more than a minute or two it feels like someone attacked your face with a power sander. It was the kind of day where you not only wear a ski mask but you also wrap a scarf around your nose and mouth so that only your eyes are exposed. My friend Mary Jo was walking to work, all huddled in her parka, and she noticed another bundled up guy walking by. This guy tapped a white cane. And when he got closer he looked like a blind mummy because his scarf was wrapped completely around his head. Except he wasn’t walking how mummies walk, like he’s dragging a ball and chain. This blind mummy was clipping along faster than everyone else.

Now here was a guy who decided it was too cold to give a shit what other people think. So he put his crippledness out there on full display. And anybody he passed that day got their notion of what it means to be blind shaken up a bit. They saw that being blind can give you a superior ability to endure the insane cold, as long as you don’t give a shit what other people think. I bet some of those cold people were actually envious of that blind mummy.


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Monday, March 27, 2017

Ask Smart Ass Cripple, Volume 4, Opus 32

Dear Smart Ass Cripple,
How come Siamese twins are called Siamese twins? And is it true that I can’t call them that anymore?

Yours truly,
Befuddled

Dear Befuddled,
To answer your second question first, yes, Siamese twins now insist on being referred to as conjoined twins. The same is true of Siamese cats. They now insist on being referred to as conjoined cats.

To answer your first question, the first conjoined twins to become international celebrities hailed from Siam. So they were simply named after the place they came from. It’s too bad they didn’t come from Spread Eagle, Wisconsin or Dildo, Newfoundland or Intercourse, Pennsylvania. God missed a golden comic opportunity with that one.


Dear Smart Ass Cripple,
My five-year old son recently said to me that Sesame Street will soon have an “autistic puppet.” Should I correct him? Shouldn’t he be saying “puppet with autism?” I don’t want him to offend anyone.

Sincerely,
Weary

Dear Weary,
There are many schools of thought on this issue. Some people are staunch proponents of what they call “puppet first” language. This means seeing the puppet first and the crippledness second. They feel it’s important for everyone to understand that crippled puppets are defined by much more than just their crippledness and that means putting the puppet before the crippledness.

However, there are others who believe that crippled puppets shouldn’t distance themselves from their crippledness, as if crippledness was a source of shame. Thus, they should embrace their crippledness as the feature that defines them most and put it first.

In light of all this, I would advise your five-year-old son to play it safe and avoid cripples altogether.


Dear Smart Ass Cripple,
I think Attention Deficit Disorder is a crock. When I was growing up, if a kid didn’t pay attention, we threw them in jail. And that straightened them out real quick! I think we should go back to doing that, don’t you?

With warm regards,
Fed Up

Dear Fed Up,
I don’t want to talk about ADD. Those people are really touchy. I once pissed a bunch of them off when I said, “People with ADD are the most broke ass cripples of all . They can’t even pay attention.”

It was just a joke, but boy did I get carpet bombed with hate mail. I was anxious to make amends so I remembered the time when a bunch of autistic people were pissed off at the rapper 50 Cent. Or at least I think it was 50 Cent. It might have been his half-brother, 25 Cent. Anyway, whichever rapper it was said something that pissed off autistic people. So to show remorse, he donated a bunch of money to an organization serving autistic people. So I decided to do something even more humanitarian. You know how some people start up camps to help kids overcome their problems? Like there are those camps where obese kids go to lose weight. Well I decided to start up a camp where ADD kids could learn how to concentrate better. I really meant well, but I made one little mistake. My fund fundraising appeal said, “Please help me send a kid with ADD to a concentration camp.”

That pissed off those ADD people even worse. So I don’t want to talk about them. No matter what I say, it’s never good enough.





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Monday, March 20, 2017

Dr. Jesus in Real Life

Is there a Biblical scholar out there? Because I’ve got questions.

The Bible is full of scenes where Jesus plays doctor, right? Those are the scenes where Jesus heals cripples. But are there any scenes where perfectly normal looking people beg Dr. Jesus to heal them? Surely something like that must’ve happened in real life because there always have been lots of people who don’t look crippled but are crippled nonetheless. Depressed people are a good example of that. There must’ve been plenty of depressed people walking around at the time of Jesus. Those were pretty depressing times. Human life expectancy was what, about 25 years? So at some point a perfectly normal looking guy must’ve said unto Jesus, “Please heal me, Jesus, for I am really depressed.” What did Jesus do? I don’t think he said, “You’re depressed, huh? Who isn’t? Suck it up!” A health insurance company might say something like that, but not Jesus. That’s what makes Jesus different from the health insurance companies.

So I guess if somebody claimed to be crippled, Jesus took their word for it and healed them. But if that was Jesus’ no-questions-asked policy, the hypochondriacs probably drove him nuts. I bet those people pestered the shit out of poor old Jesus. He heals their backache one day and they’re back again the next day with a brain tumor. So at some point when Jesus had enough of hypochondriacs, he put probably put his palm on their foreheads and said, “Look, I, Jesus Christ, do hereby heal thee of all ailments past, present and future, okay?”

And what about those situations where healing somebody couldn’t be fully achieved simply by Jesus zapping them with his palm? Like suppose a guy had a bad case of PTSD (or whatever they called it back then) because the Romans threw his parents to the lions. After Jesus zapped him, he’d say, “Wow! The Romans threw my parents to the lions, but I don’t care anymore. I’m hap-hap-happeeeeeeeee!” But that guy still wouldn’t be healed because Jesus just treated the symptoms and not the underlying disease. In a case like this, Jesus would have to do something more, like use his extraordinary powers of concentration to levitate up whichever Romans flung the guys parents into the lion pit and fling them into the lion pit as well. This wouldn’t completely heal the PTSD, but it would be an important step on the road to recovery.

But as far as I know, all the scenes in the Bible where Jesus plays doctor are cut and dried. The cripples all are unambiguously crippled. They’re blind or hunched or missing limbs. Jesus zaps them and they’re healed. End of scene.

But in real life, there’s no way it was that simple.






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Monday, March 13, 2017

The Grapes of Wrath for the Blind

Maybe I’m just too cynical. Maybe I ought to lighten up a little.

But I can’t help it. I call the 800 number for the Illinois Tollway so I can add funds to that little box on my van dashboard that lets me zip through toll stops without going to a human in a booth. I’m on hold and a recording says calls are handled by people working for the Lighthouse for the Blind.

I know hearing that is supposed to make me feel good. And I’m sure that’s the effect it has on 99.999999999999999 percent of callers. Who wouldn’t think hiring the handicapped is a mighty fine thing to do? But I hear that stuff about the Lighthouse and I say to myself, “So what’s the catch?”

And then I say to myself, “Why not India?” Because if an outfit employing cripples landed this customer service contract, they must have underbid India for it. So this smells like one of those deals where cripples get paid pennies an hour.

Now it’s true that this is a government contract and the government has a hard time justifying shipping jobs to India. But hell, governments love to bust unions, too. So while I’m sitting there enduring the on-hold music, I picture a scene with several rows of galley slaves working the oars, while a stern foreman with a whip patrols the aisle. Except instead of slaves working oars I see several rows of cubicles occupied by chattering blind people wearing headsets. A blind man falls to the ground in exhaustion and the sadistic foreman pounces and whips him until he climbs back up in his chair and gets back to work.

And if a blind person can’t hold up under the rigors of customer service, there are plenty more blind people waiting in line to take his/her place. I picture scores of migrant blind customer service workers, looking dirty and ragged like Okies, all headed across the Great Plains to Illinois in their covered wagons. Back at the migrant camp, after a grueling day of listening to customers bitch and moan, the blind workers huddle around the warm campfire wrapped in stiff and scratchy horse blankets. Each forlorn blind person takes a sip from a soup ladle before passing it on. One of the blind people plays sad music on a harmonica.

What the hell’s the matter with me? Why can’t I just relax and let myself feel all warm and fuzzy while waiting to be served, instead of conjuring up a disturbing fantasy of brutal exploitation? But there is one good thing about it. At least it takes my mind off the on-hold music.





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Monday, March 6, 2017

The Artificial Drooler


Well okay, I guess you can say things have improved a little for cripples over the last 20 years or so.

Twenty years or so ago, I went to see this play where the main character was a guy in a wheelchair who had cerebral palsy. I don’t remember the title of the play. All I remember was that it was written and performed by a traveling theater company that does plays about “social issues.” Yikes! That should have been a big red flag. But I went to see the play anyway, despite being fully aware of the risk involved in doing so. I guess I figured, “How bad could it be?”

This was that theater company’s first foray into the “social issue” of crippledom. Needless to say, the role of the man with cerebral palsy who’s in a wheelchair was not played by a guy who really did have cerebral palsy or was in a wheelchair. To me it was obvious from the start that he wasn’t an authentic cripple by the way he spazzed it up like Jerry Lewis on coke. From my vantage point in the back row, I could even see drool glistening on his chin throughout the play.

The sad protagonist lived a life of brutal rejection. He was rejected by his family, by kids in school, by employers, by females. It got to the point where he sat on stage alone in his wheelchair delivering a spazzed-out tragic soliloquy about how much it sucks to be him. And then he put the barrel of a loaded gun in his mouth.

The audience gasped. And that’s when the action froze and the audience participation part began. (Yikes! A play about “social issues” that includes audience participation! Any play like that should be required to have a Surgeon General’s warning.) As the faux cripple sat motionless on stage with a gun in his mouth, one of the administrators of the theater company entered from the wings and asked the audience to determine the ending of the play. Should the cripple blow his brains out or not?

A spirited audience discussion ensued about the pros and cons of cripples blowing their brains out. No one mentioned the the fact any cripple that was as spazzed out as this one probably would have shot off his nose or something while attempting to put the gun in his mouth. In the end, the audience decided that the brave protagonist should resolve to keep on living in spite of it all. I can’t remember whether it was a voice vote or a show of hands.

So the action unfroze and the actor took the gun out of his mouth and delivered a final soliloquy about how he’s going to keep on living in spite of it all. The end. The audience applauded vigorously as the actors took their bows. Of course the star bowed last and before he did, he rose from his wheelchair, much to the audience’s surprise and delight. And then he unhooked something from his lower lip and held it high for all to see. Turns out the chin drool was fake. Yep, somebody in the props department actually made him a drool prosthesis.

Like I said, that was 20 years or so ago. I’ve seen a lot of horrifyingly grating stuff about cripples on stage and screen since then. But I’ve still not seen anything as excruciating as that.

So maybe things have improved a little.



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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Not Burning to Death as an Act of Defiance

At first the sound of the siren is way off in the distance. But then it swells until it’s right in front of the building where I live. Then the siren fades and I hear a fire truck idling beneath my window. Sometimes there are two or three fire trucks.

This happens at least once a week. About 500 people live in my building so the odds of someone doing something to set off their smoke alarm are high. The cause always turns out to be something like burnt popcorn.

But each time I wonder just a little if this time it just might be the big one. What if it really is a fire and I, being a cripple, cannot escape? Of course I don’t want to burn to death for the same reason nobody else wants to. I imagine it hurts like hell. But I also feel that I have a political obligation not to burn to death. Not burning to death, to me, is an act of defiance. Because some people warned me back when I was a criplet that someday, if I got too pushy and bold, I would probably burn to death. “You’ll never be able live on your own! What if there’s a fire?" Or, “You can’t come into this theater/restaurant/fill-in-the-blank! What if there’s a fire?” Etc.

The only place a cripple would be safe from burning to death would be a nursing home. Because everybody knows nursing homes never catch fire. They’re all made of miraculous fireproof materials.

It really sucks when I hear that criplets of today are still being intimidated by that same what-if-there’s-a-fire shit. And that’s why I feel that the best way to support those who reject that nonsense and dive into life anyway is to make damn sure that I die by any means other than burning to death. Because if I do burn to death, I will surely be made an example of. “See, we told you! Here’s what happens when a cripple takes a risk!” My charred corpse will become a poster child.

So I have extra incentive to avoid burning to death. I don’t want to let my fellow cripples down. You know those people who douse themselves with gasoline and set themselves on fire in order to make a political statement? I’m the opposite of those guys. I want my tombstone to read, “Here lies Smart Ass Cripple. Well, at least he didn’t burn to death.”



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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Just Very Very Beautiful Women and Me




I feel a deep yearning to start a support group where I can share my feelings and vulnerabilities with people who experience the same insensitive treatment that I do. This would be a very exclusive support group. Membership would be open only to very very beautiful women and me.

Because a lot of times I hear cripples talk about how when they’re out and about on the streets, they feel invisible. Sorry, but I don’t understand that one at all. If anything, when I'm roaming the streets I feel hyper visible, like there’s a reverse Where’s Waldo type of thing happening. Just take one look at the aerial snapshot of the teeming crowd and the first thing you’ll see is me.

And I also hear cripples complain a lot about how other people crane their necks staring at them. Again, my experience is the opposite. I find that people crane their necks trying to pretend like they’re not staring. Like for instance, I’m in line at a fast food place. I make sudden and unexpected eye contact with the guy across from me in the next line. He quickly looks away and pretends to be endlessly fascinated with the napkin dispenser.

Whenever this happens to me, I imagine that it must inevitably happen all the time to very very beautiful women, too. I know how guys are. Through years or practice, mostly trial and error, they’ve all refined their technique for sneaking a peek. Peek sneaking, be it at cripples or at beautiful women or miscellaneous, has become a lot easier with the advent of smartphones. You always have a trusty device nearby that you can whip out and pretend to be staring at while you’re really staring at something beyond.

This is why I often feel a sense of warm solidarity with very very beautiful women. I want to bond with them and derive mutual comfort. Now of course I won’t deny that my experience as a crippled white male is not exactly parallel to that of a woman. The difference is most apparent when I pass a construction site. There’s something about the vibe of a construction site that makes some men ditch all sense of decorum and say exactly how they feel about passing women. They’ll say something crude like, “Oooh mama! Gimme some of that!”’ But as far as I know, construction workers never say exactly how they feel about passing cripples. If they did, we’d be hearing stuff like, “Hey cripple, you make me feel a great sense of anxiety because you remind me of the fragility of human existence and how I can join your ranks at any moment and thus becomes increasingly dependent on the rapidly-eroding social safety net! So get lost!”

Nevertheless, I still think forming a support group for very very beautiful women and me is a great idea. And I know there are many other cripples out there who would benefit from being a part of my group as well. But screw them. Let them form their own damn support group.




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Monday, February 13, 2017

Trying to Confuse my Wheelchair or A Man Without a Demographic


You see one day last summer I went into this boutique that sells women’s lingerie. I was just in there for a few minutes and I didn’t buy anything. The only reason I went into the place was that I was being stalked and I wanted to throw the stalker off the scent.

I wasn’t being literally stalked, just virtually. I just got this new wheelchair at the time and there’s a display window on the drive box that shows the time and date. And every once in a while a warning appears in the display window commanding me to update the time and date. And chair won’t move until I do it.

Why is it so urgent that the time and date always be current? I surmised that it’s because, like everything else these days, my new chair must contain a secret tracking devise that constantly monitors and records my whereabouts.

Why would the government waste time and money spying on me? That’s the thing. I don’t think it’s the government that’s behind it. I think it’s an even more evil entity with a sinister agenda and elaborate spy apparatus, like maybe Google or Facebook. They made a deal with the wheelchair manufacturer and they’re watching my every move with their tracking device so as to determine my demographic so they can bombard me with the proper barrage of targeted ads on the internet.

And I resent that. My demographic is none of their damn business. And just what the hell is my demographic anyway? I like to think of myself as a man without a demographic. Demographics are dehumanizing. They’re a pigeonhole, a trap. So whenever I catch myself settling too comfortably within the constraints of a certain demographic, I try to engage in some form of undemographiclike behavior, just to keep myself honest. Being a man without a demographic in a capitalist consumer culture can be lonely. It’s like being a man without a country. Your demographic is your home, the place where you find the comfort of community and your sense of identity. A man without a demographic is an expatriate. But oh well.

But you can’t give a virtual stalker the slip like you can an actual stalker. Wherever you go, it goes, like a shackle. The best you can do is confuse it. So when I’m out and about in my wheelchair, I take a lot of detours. I drop in places I would never otherwise ever go, such as American Girl, a Baptist church or a fitness center. I’m doing it to confuse my wheelchair. And then maybe those nosey bastards trying to figure out my demographic will write me off as a lost cause and leave me the hell alone.



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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Wingman

A guy of about late high school or early college age came out of a bowling alley. With him was a female of about the same age . Between them was a Down Syndrome dude, probably the same age, carrying a bowling bag.

And I immediately jumped to conclusions. “Wingman!” I said to myself when I saw the Down Syndrome dude. I knew what this was all about. I was once an unwitting wingman. It happened a lot to me and the other crippled campers at Jerry Lewis cripple summer camp. They called the teens who tended to us our counselors. And there were some counselors there whose primary purpose for being at Jerry Lewis cripple summer camp was to end up “in the bushes.” That’s what they called it when counselors went off to copulate because that’s literally what they had to do. They had to find a secluded spot in the bushes somewhere. And if they got caught in the bushes by camp staff they were kicked out of camp.

The counselors who were using me as a wingman were the ones who called me stuff like “sport” and “tiger” as they rubbed my head and messed up my hair. They were attentive as hell when females were around because females are really impressed with that sensitivity stuff you know. They eat it up. When you’re a kid you don’t really think about it. You just like the attention being a wingman brings you. But when I got to be old enough to figure out what it all means, I resented the wingman treatment because the last thing I wanted to do was facilitate somebody else’s trip to the bushes. I hoped that by some miracle I’d get some of that bush action myself. In fact, I wanted to be the first cripple to be kicked out of Jerry Lewis cripple summer camp for being caught in the bushes. That would’ve made me the legend of all camp legends.

Thus, I felt a sense of wingman solidarity with the Down Syndrome dude. He looked like he was at the age where he would feel that same resentment. But then it hit me that I was engaging in some pretty awful stereotyping. Why did I automatically assume that the Down Syndrome dude was being exploited as a wingman in this situation? I mean, why couldn’t it be the other way around? Maybe the Down Syndrome dude was the one trying to move in on the female. And maybe he invited his poor uncrippled friend who doesn’t have a girlfriend along on their bowling date just to show her how compassionate he is. I guess subconsciously I didn’t think a Down Syndrome person was capable of such a thing. I really sold that guy short.

I learned a lot about myself that day.



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Monday, January 30, 2017

Smart Ass Cripple's Adolescent Clinical Research Trial Fantasy

I guess I was a weird adolescent. Because back in those days I saw a lot of crippled kids on television, especially during telethons and shit, pining for a cure. It was like the sad dog montage on those ASPCA commercials. Cripples doing nothing all day but hoping this will finally be the day when a clinical research trial for a cure pops up so they can drop everything and immediately sign up.

But for some reason, I was never one of those cripples. If someone came up with a pill that was guaranteed to instantly cure me, with no additional effort on my part other than swallowing it, I supposed I might get in line to take it. But until then, I had other stuff to do. As a teenager, I wanted what every teenager wants. I was much more concerned with getting laid than getting cured. And no research lab was trying to come up with a pill that would help me get laid. There was no heartbreaking montage on television of crippled youth who were sad because they couldn’t get laid.

Now if there had been a clinical research trial for something like that, then hell yeah, I sure would have dropped everything to sign up! Seeking horny adolescent cripples who want to get laid for participation in a research trial. I’d stomp over all the other cripples to be first guinea pig! I wouldn’t care what the treatment was. Take a pill that causes me to emit pheromones that attract females? Chromosomal manipulation to make me irresistible? Whatever! I’m game!

First they’d make me sign a consent form that says among the potential treatment side effects are dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, migraine headaches, sudden tooth loss, renal failure, seizures, terrifying psychotic hallucinations, early onset Alzheimer’s and crotch rot.

“Sounds like a no-brainer to me, “ adolescent me would have said. “Where do I sign?” And maybe, as was often the case with research subjects, I’d even receive a stipend. Getting paid to get laid? Paradise!

My room at the research facility would be like a super cool bachelor pad— a heart-shaped waterbed, champagne on ice, mirrors all over the place. The research assistants in their white lab coats help me transfer into the hot tub. They give me a pill and leave. A few minutes later, a buxom woman enters through the bead curtain. She wears a negligee. Her eyes are filled with burning desire. She approaches the hot tub.

But then, at precisely the wrong moment, it would’ve occurred to adolescent me that all those mirrors are probably two-way mirrors and all those research perverts in their white lab coats are watching me from the other side and getting their jollies! I’d be too self-conscious and distracted to perform and I’d be written off as a failure and kicked out of the research project.

Or the other likely scenario would be me in the hot tub and the woman enters but she’s not the tiniest bit interested in me and nothing happens. I’m written off as a failure and kicked out of the research project, but at least it’s not my fault. I was in the placebo group.

I guess I was a weird adolescent.



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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Box of Frozen Burgers and What it all Means

I open a box of frozen burgers. And inside they’re all exactly alike. They all have the same thickness and diameter. They even have the same two grill marks in the same place, running diagonally across the surface of the burger like the tracks of a tiny tank.

There’s a story behind all this and I know what it is. Once upon a time, a few years back, there was a cripple who went to art school. This cripple didn’t even bother to ask the state vocational rehabilitation office for financial aid because the state vocational rehabilitation office does not encourage delusional endeavors like attending art school. But after the cripple finished art school, he broke down and asked the state vocational rehabilitation office to help him find a job. He knew it was a long shot to expect them to find him a job using his art skills. State vocational rehabilitation usually set cripples up with assembly line jobs where they tightened a screw on some gadget passing by on a conveyor belt and the cripple got paid something like three cents a screw.

But the cripple with the useless art school degree was desperate so he gave state vocational rehabilitation a shot. And much to his surprise, he got a job using his art skills! So he reported to the frozen burger factory, whereupon he was issued a paint brush, an industrial-sized can of black food coloring and a stencil. And then he assumed his position on the assembly line and whenever a burger entered his sector he had exactly five seconds to slap the stencil down on it, paint a quick swoosh of black food coloring and lift the stencil, thus creating perfectly uniform grill marks each and every time! And the crippled artist was probably paid something like three cents a burger, if the burger passed inspection.

But I don’t think this story ends with happily ever after. I bet it wasn’t long before the cripple felt artistically stifled and began doing subversive things that will quickly get a guy canned, like introducing elements of abstract expressionism into his grill marks. Or maybe he tried to organize a union, United Underpaid Cripples.

But even if the crippled artist successfully suppressed himself enough to keep his job, he was still probably replaced by a state-of-the-art grill mark stamping machine. The only thing that will work for less than a desperate cripple is a machine. Or maybe he was replaced by a robot that’s programmed exclusively to paint perfectly uniform grill marks on frozen burgers each and every time. The only thing that will put up with more shit in the workplace than a desperate cripple is a robot.

Or maybe the entire grill mark painting operation was outsourced to cripples in China.



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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Flying Port-a-potty Adventures

I’m not saying that accessible double wide port-a-potties aren’t a good thing. Cripples, like all God’s children, have to pee.

But the last time I went into one of those I had a really harrowing adventure that taught me a serious lesson about life. I had to pee like a horse so I rolled into an accessible port-a-potty and latched the door. Well then suddenly a big storm kicked up and the port-a-potty lifted up off the ground and felt like it was hurdling through the air. I was scared shitless, hanging onto the grab bars for dear life for what seemed like an hour but it was probably only about 30 seconds.

The port-a-potty landed with a thump. I opened my eyes. No more storm. I was still alive! When I opened the door there was a blinding blast of sunlight. A bunch of people were staring at me suspiciously and none of them was more than three and a half feet tall. It was a strange village where the buildings sort of looked like the Kremlin made out of gingerbread.

"Wow!" I said. "Munchkins!

The little people in the front of the pack then pulled out machine guns and their commander said, "Don't you EVER call us that!" He ordered me to come out of the port-a-potty slowly and not try to any funny business or else. So I did what he said. He stepped up and looked me over.

“Are you a terrorist?” he said

“No!” I pleaded. “I was just trying to take a piss!”

He scowled and told me no one was allowed to be within the borders of this village if they were more than 45 inches tall. I recognized his face. He was the leader of that radical movement of little people nationalists who believe that the establishment of a separate homeland for little people is the only way for them to be liberated from the “tyranny of heightism.” It looked like they finally achieved their utopian dream and here I was crashing their party. So the commander ordered me banished and the armed little people marched me to the border, giggling as their bayonets poked me in the ass.

They slammed the village gate behind me and there I was, stranded. The only road was made out of yellow cobblestones, which really sucked ass because have you ever tried rolling a wheelchair over cobblestone? It’s like roller skating on gravel. It especially sucks when you have a full bladder, which I did because in all the commotion I never did get around to taking that piss.

So there I was slowly bumping my way down the cobblestone road when I came across this silver statue. It sounded like the statue was trying to tell me something but I couldn’t make out what it was saying. I got closer but I still didn’t understand. It sounded like he was saying gong or kong or maybe dong. Then I noticed that on the ground by his feet was a bong. That must be what he wanted! So I lit up the bong and held it up to his mouth. But he could barely move his lips, let alone take a hit and a tear rolled out of his eye. So I took a hit and blew the smoke in his face and soon his face loosened up real good and he said, “Oh thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou! You’re a saint! Gimme more please! Moooore!” So I kept taking hits and blowing smoke in his face until his upper body was loose enough for him to do the bong himself and he took more and more hits until he was as limber as a ballerina. The silver man told me that he had real bad arthritis and the only thing that makes him feel better is smoking pot. He said last time he had a flare up he dropped his bong and couldn’t reach it and soon he stiffened up and got stuck in the position I found him. But after a few hits he started singing and dancing about how the thing he wants more than anything in the world is for pot to be legal so he can smoke it in fucking peace. Then he asked me what I wanted more than anything in the world. I said I just wanted to take a piss.

The silver man said there was this dude in charge of everything called the wizard and he lived up the road and maybe if we went and talked to him he’d make pot legal and give me place to take a piss.

I don’t remember much about what happened next. I seem to recall something about a talking lion and hot air balloon but who knows because I took so many hits off that bong I couldn’t tell what was real from what wasn’t anymore. I still can’t.

All I know is eventually I found myself home in bed. And as I looked around my familiar, comfy room, I realized something important about my life. It’s boring. It’s always the same old shit. No flying port-a-potties, no diminutive militant nationalist, no dancing silver dudes with killer weed. Just the same old shit. Boring.





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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Congratulations Muslims?

It’s hard to say what I feel. I think what I feel is envy. But it’s not really envy because envy is when somebody has something you wish you had. But in this case, I already have what the object of my envy has but nobody can see that I have it and that’s the part that’s making me envious, or whatever the right word is. And I don’t even want this thing I have that I want everybody to notice that I have. In fact I want to get rid of it but I can’t get rid of it until people that don’t have this thing that I have and want to get rid of notice that I have it. And that’s what’s frustrating. So what I’m feeling is probably not envy, per se. So then what is it? It certainly is something.

This is all the fault of the Pew Research Center. They just did a survey about different groups of Americans that are being fucked over. They didn’t call it that. They called it discrimination. But I don’t like that word. It’s way too soft to describe the offense. And discrimination isn’t always a bad thing. People with discriminating tastes are considered to be sophisticated and refined. So I prefer calling it what it is, which is being fucked over.

But anyway, Pew Research surveyed 1,502 adults and from that determined that 82 percent of Americans believe Muslims face discrimination in the United States and 57 percent of Americans believe Muslims face "a lot" of discrimination. Black people and gays and lesbians tied for second at 76 percent followed by Hispanics at 70 percent and women at 60 percent.

And just where did cripples finish in this sad race? We finished worse than dead last because we weren’t even entered into the Fucked Over Derby. Apparently we didn’t make the cut when it comes to being fucked over in the eyes of Pew.

I don’t know what to say about all this. Congratulations Muslims, I guess? Don’t get me wrong. I don’t begrudge them the distinction of most fucked over. Lord knows they’ve earned it. But I feel like I’m sitting at a bar frantically waving my arms and the bartender keeps passing me by. What the hell does a guy have to do to get attention at this joint?

In this case, the metaphorical bartender is Pew and the uncrippled majority at large. Because it’s easy to say, “Oh who cares what anybody else thinks. Cripples know we’re being fucked over. That’s all that matters.” But the truth is that you’re not really officially being fucked over in this country until those who aren’t being fucked over in the same manner acknowledge that you’re being fucked over.

So I guess cripples will just have to work harder. I don’t mean work harder at being fucked over. That happens naturally. No effort required. We’ll have to work harder to make sure people besides us notice.




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