Tuesday, February 7, 2017


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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