Friday, May 20, 2022

Typecast as a Genius


I bumped into one of my crippled friends who’s an actor. It seems he’s been typecast.

It used to be when an actor who really was crippled (and not just an uncrippled person playing the role of a cripple ) got typecast, the only roles they could get were as a smarmy little Tiny Tim or a sideshow freak or something like that.  But the last big role my actor friend had was on a short-lived television show where he played a computer genius. Now he has a role in another television show where he plays another kind of genius. They just gave him a different profession, but he's still a genius.

This is all the fault of that damn Stephen Hawking. I know he’s dead, but I won’t let that intimidate me into silence.

Because of him, now when people think about cripples, they don’t just picture smarmy little Tiny Tims and sideshow freaks anymore. They also picture geniuses.

But that still worries me. Because first off, I wonder if people are able to see us as geniuses because they think we don’t have anything better to do but sit around and become geniuses. Maybe they think our days consist of someone rolling our wheelchairs up to the window, a plaid blanket wrapped around our legs, and we sit there all day gazing forlornly at the stars.

And second off, I don’t want people to expect me to be a genius all the time in real life just because I’m crippled. I can’t even begin to humor them by pretending to be that smart, even if I wanted to. My friend can probably pull that off because he’s a good actor. But not me. If everyone's expecting a genius, I'm bound to let them down.

I suppose it’s better that people expect cripples to be geniuses instead of smarmy little Tiny Tims and sideshow freaks. But not much

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Sunday, May 8, 2022

Blind Pedestrians Versus Birds


Sometimes you can tell something is fake because it looks too real. Fake flowers are a good example. You can tell they’re fake right away because they look too perfect. They have no brown spots or any other flaws. Or how about wax fruit? You can tell it’s not fruit because it looks way too much like fruit.

There’s a street corner in Chicago where you can hear birds chirping all day and night, even in the dead of winter. But if you listen long enough you realize it’s bird sound effects because every time they chirp it’s the same number of chirps at the same cadence and the interval between flurries of chirps is always exactly the same.

On that same street corner there’s also a facility where blind people learn to walk the streets using white canes. So that makes sense. The bird sound effects come on whenever the WALK sign comes on at the traffic light so the blind people know it’s okay to cross the street.

But I wonder what happens if real birds chirp when the DON’T WALK sign is on. Blind people might wander out into traffic. Maybe whoever came up with the bird chirp idea is counting on blind people knowing the fake birds are fake because they sound too real.

But I wonder what happens if a parrot gets loose. A parrot could do a dead-on impression of the fake birds while the DON’T WALK sign is on, just so blind people will wander out into traffic. You know what smart asses parrots are.

Maybe,  just to be on the safe side, the signal that tells blind people it’s okay to cross the street ought to be something you never hear in the city, which rules out gun shots. How about a lion’s roar? If a real  lion gets loose, the blind people are screwed anyway.

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Friday, April 29, 2022

Good Reparations, Bad Reparations

 Take, for example, those parking spaces that are reserved just for cripples. I suppose that could be an example of cripple reparations

I mean, the definition of reparations is, "The making of amends for wrong or injury done."  And those parking spaces are a good symbol of how the uncrippled majority makes amends to us for being crippled.

I also get my city vehicle sticker for free and a property tax discount because I’m crippled. Those could also be looked upon as the uncrippled majority’s way  of making amends for wrong or injury done to me.

And the uncrippled majority doesn’t seem to have a problem with doing that, which is a much different reaction than a lot of people have to paying slavery reparations. They get all defensive about that idea.

One difference, I suppose, is that when the uncrippled majority gives cripples a parking space they aren’t admitting any wrongdoing. They think they’re making amends on behalf of God. It’s a lot easier to say you’re sorry about something you don’t think is your fault. Like if someone says they have cancer, you say, “I’m sorry,” even though you didn’t give them cancer. Now if they file a lawsuit accusing you of giving them cancer because you polluted their water or something, then it’s not so easy to say you’re sorry.

And that’s another thing. Cripples never got together and demanded stuff like parking spaces. Or at least that’s what the uncrippled majority thinks. Thus, when the uncrippled majority grants these things to us, it can feel good about itself. But if we demanded these parking spaces and such, then the uncrippled majority would give them to us out of a sense of guilt rather than compassion, which takes all the fun out of it for them

So maybe those demanding slavery reparations ought to try a different approach. Instead of finger pointing, which  makes the descendants of slaveowners feel like their self-esteem is being attacked, maybe they ought to try a more humble approach, like, “We know it’s not your fault, but if you could see fit to making amends for the injury or wrong done to us, we’d really appreciate it.”

The descendants of slaveowners will be a lot more receptive to the disarming charm of that message. Of course, all the descendants of slaves will get out of it will probably be some fancy parking spaces reserved just for them, but hey, it’s a start!

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Sunday, April 17, 2022

Stonewall for Cripples


As far as I know, there isn't a cripple equivalent of Stonewall. 

And that's a damn shame. But I'm still holding out hope that someday it'll happen. 

In 1969, in just about every state, it was illegal to be gay, or at least to admit it publicly. So there were underground gay bars. 

That summer, New York City police raided Stonewall, which was one of those bars. It wasn't the first such raid but this time, instead of dispersing, a lot of people got pissed off and resisted and fought back. And that freed the gay rights movement from the tyranny of operating within the constraints of politeness and civil discourse.

Cripples could sure use a galvanizing moment like that, where somebody finally says they're tired of being fucked with and they're not gonna take it anymore and that frees a whole bunch more of us to do the same. 

But the battleground probably won't be a bar, because I don't think there are any underground cripple bars, or any above ground cripple bars either. About the only establishments that specifically cater to cripples are nursing homes. And those places are like fly paper for cripples. Once they go in they get stuck there until they die.

So maybe what'll happen will be that during some quiet nursing home mealtime some cripple will knock their tray off of the table and there'll be a loud clatter and crash and that cripple will shout out, "I'm sick of this slop!" And that cripple will storm out of the nursing home and other revved up cripples will follow and pretty soon there'll be a big cripple protest outside of the nursing home. And the warden of the nursing home will call the police. And the riot squad will show up. But it won't be like  Stonewall, where  the cops tried to strong-arm, bully and drag the gay people out of the place. In this case, the riot squad will try to strong-arm, bully and drag the cripples back into the nursing home. But the cripples will fight back by pelting the riot cops with the slop the nursing home feeds them.

And then cripples in nursing homes all over world will join in the fun. It'll be an enormous, global  food fight! Won't that be cool?

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Sunday, April 10, 2022

The Social Security Hustle



Nowadays I’m doing the Social Security Hustle, which is  a dance that a lot of cripples do.

I started doing it last summer, right around the time I started officially collecting Social Security. And as pretty much every cripple who collects Social Security knows, just because you have a steady check coming in every month doesn’t mean you’re on Easy Street. Hell, if you’re one of those cripples who collects SSI, the most your monthly check can be is $841. Who the hell can get by on that?

So cripples collecting Social Security are constantly following scents that might lead to a side gig that will bring in a few extra bucks. But it’s a dance on a tightrope. You can’t bring in too many bucks because if Social Security finds out about it, your check may well get reduced or cut off altogether. But you can’t just do shit for free either because that defeats the purpose of doing the Social Security Hustle.

The first thing you have to do is make a list of what you have to offer that someone might actually pay money for. Everybody has something of value, even if it’s just an extra kidney or blood that can be the raw material for making plasma.

The thing I try to sell the most is the well of knowledge and wisdom I’ve developed from my decades of living as a cripple. Every once in a while I’ll find someone who thinks it’s worth it to pay me for a piece of that. And so I’ll end up in a focus group or being a guest speaker in a class or something like that. 

I recently hustled up a gig where I'll receive a bunch of different straws and then critique the experience of drinking through each of them. I don’t know who wants to know this information or why but who cares? If anybody knows a thing or two about drinking through a straw it’s me. I do it every day. I drink beer and martinis through a straw. I have strong opinions about which straw is most appropriate for which imbibing scenario, taking in to account the type of glass, the viscosity of the liquid and other factors. I’m probably one of the world’s leading experts on drinking through a straw. So if someone needs to hear my unique perspective on the matter, it’s only fair that they pay top dollar. 

But when you’re doing the Social Security Hustle, top dollar is about $100 because remember, you can’t hustle up too much. And a lot of times the payment for your hustle comes in the form of a gift card from Target or Amazon or someplace like that. It’s not exactly the same warm feeling you get when somebody hands you cold, hard cash, but it’ll do.

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Thursday, March 31, 2022



If you’ve noticed, I don’t like to call it ableism when cripples freak out verts (which is what I call people who walk because it’s short for vertical).

It’s not that I don’t believe a lot of verts are freaked out by cripples. Lord knows they are. But ableism doesn’t seem like the right word for it to me. It just sounds too gratingly wimpy. I prefer to call it something like crippophobia because that’s what it is. It’s fear of cripples.

And the best word I can come up with for that is crippophobia. Because I  looked it up and I couldn’t find a word for fear of cripples. There are a zillion weird phobias including fear of balloons and fear of chickens. But there is no word as far as I can tell for fear of cripples, which means that the people who come up with names for all the weird phobias must think there’s no such thing, which means none of them are crippled.

Because when verts are freaked out by cripples, it’s because they’re scared of us. It’s not the same type of fear some white people have of black people. They’re not afraid we’re going to move in next door and try to date their daughters. And they’re not afraid of us the same way people are afraid of the IRS. We can’t garnish their paychecks.

And it’s not like we’re all contagious. It’s not like if you’re in the same room with someone with cerebral palsy, you’ll suddenly become all spastic. If you breathe the same air as a little person, you won’t shrink.

Maybe people are scared of us for the same reason they’re scared of spiders—because they think we’re ugly. Most spiders can’t hurt anybody but they scare the hell out of people because they’re ugly.

But I think it’s probably more of an existential fear. The verts who don’t want cripples around them are scared because we remind them of the endless possibilities of life, and not in a good way. We remind them that anybody can be or become one of us, which we often find humorous because being one of us freaks them out way more than it does us.

 We remind them how tenuous everything is. They resent our existence because we’re a buzzkill.

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Thursday, March 17, 2022

Rollercoaster Therapy


 I’m surprised nobody has invented rollercoaster therapy for cripples yet.

I mean, somebody came up with horse therapy, right? You know what I ‘m talking about. Some people bring around a saddled-up horse and their mission is to take cripples horseback riding. And they’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen. Even if three other people have to ride the horse with you to keep your limp and floppy crippled body from falling off, they’ll gladly do it. If they have to rig up a saddle contraption that looks like a giant child’s car seat encased in steel girders to hold you upright when you ride, they’ll gladly do that, too.

And it seems like the more crippled you are, and thus the more uncomfortable and terrifying it is for you to ride a horse, the more the horse therapy people seem bent on trying to sign you up. I guess they think the things cripples miss most are the things we are least able to do. They must think that if we find that we really can do those things, sort of, then maybe we’ll believe that we can do anything.

Well, thanks but no thanks, at least not for me. I let myself be talked into riding horses back when I was a kid at cripple summer camp and all it did for me was scare the shit out of me. I was glad when it was over and I could get back in my wheelchair.  I still carry that fear to this day and I don’t wish to expend any energy endeavoring to conquer it. It’s a healthy fear. If not being able to ride a horse is part of what it means to be a cripple like me, I’m fine with that part of what it means to be a cripple like me.

 When riding a horse, I felt like a rag doll tethered to a bucking bronco. There is no fun in that. And that’s how riding a rollercoaster has made me feel, too, the time or two that I’ve tried it. The way it whips my wet noodle body around, I feel like a crash test dummy in a car that’s tumbling down a cliff. That’s not my idea of a good time.

So I’m surprised that no one has concluded that since riding a rollercoaster is probably the thing cripples like me are least equipped to do, it must be the thing we’re most longing to do. And so they’d make it their mission to arrange cripple field trips to amusement parks where they would do whatever it takes to get us all to ride rollercoasters.

Well, the good news is Medicaid probably wouldn’t pay for this kind of therapy. So we’ll have a good excuse to get out of it.

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