Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Please Don't Jump into a Freezing Lake on My Account

I, Smart Ass Cripple, do hereby solemnly swear that I will never be the type of cripple who makes uncrippled people dive into a freezing cold body of water in the dead of winter just to raise money for them.

It seems like every week in winter I see a local news report about a group of uncrippled people who, presumably, are otherwise sane and rational, going to the beach on a frigid day, stripping down to their bathing suits and jumping in the lake. To get people to do stuff like this you’d better have a damn good reason. And what better reason is there than raising money for cripples?

In Chicago, they jump in the lake in winter to raise money for the Special Olympics. There’s something sadistic and tyrannical about that, making people freeze their asses off for you. It sounds like something a spoiled little 10-year-old king would do to the peasants for laughs.

I know nobody is holding a  gun to anybody’s head and making them jump into a frigid lake. But if those people were raising money for me, I’d be horrified. I’d feel obliged to go down to the beach with a bullhorn and shout, “What the hell are you people doing? Are you nuts?  Go home and get warm!” If I was in the Special Olympics, I'd mess up their whole gig.

No offense, but I would never jump in a freezing lake for you. There would have to be a helluva lot at stake for me to make me do that. Someone would have to be holding my family hostage and threatening to kill them, or something like that.

So if anybody out there ever feels so sorry for or inspired by me that you’re ready to raise money for me by taking a flying leap into a freezing lake, please don’t. You can just write me a check instead.

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Friday, March 10, 2023

More Smart Ass Cripple Tips for Young Criplets

 Like I said last time, I always love giving tips to young criplets about ways I’ve found to navigate through the world as a cripple.

Here are some more: Never wear underwear or pajamas but always wear slip-on shoes.

I learned these valuable lessons because the high school I attended was a state-operated boarding school for cripples, which I affectionately refer to as the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT).

The great existential question every inmate faced was, "Is there life beyond SHIT?” SHIT was a bubble. There were staff to meet our needs. The people who helped us get in and out of bed were the houseparents. There were therapists aplenty.

But what happened if an inmate graduated or reached age 21 and couldn’t live at SHIT anymore? Without the houseparents around, who was going to help us get in and out of bed?

The therapists thought their job was to help me figure out how to do as much of that kind of stuff as I could for myself. They devised elaborate, makeshift technology, like long sticks with hooks and snaps and pulleys on them, to help me do stuff like pull up my socks. It didn’t matter if it took me all day to pull up my socks. The important thing was that I did it myself.

And so I came up with all kinds of shortcuts. I wouldn’t have to worry about putting my pajamas on without any houseparents around if I slept naked. I wouldn’t have to figure out a way to wiggle my underwear on and off if I didn’t wear any. I wouldn’t have to waste any time tying my shoes if I wore slip-ons.

These are the things I did to ensure my survival beyond SHIT. I still don’t wear pajamas or underwear because, well, what’s the point? And not buying those things saves money, too. I sometimes wear shoes that have laces, but regardless of what kind of shoes I wear, I have someone else put them on me. There’s a crew of people that I’ve hired to do all that kind of stuff for me. I call them my pit crew. They’re all paid an hourly wage but it doesn’t cost me anything, except when I pay my taxes. The state government covers it all.

 I hope these tips aren’t as relevant as they once were. Fortunately, there are a whole lot more of these programs around, so today’s cripples don’t have to stress about doing everything yourself or going broke paying someone to help. But there aren’t nearly enough of these programs and a lot of cripples can’t get the help they need. So my tips may prove to be helpful  after all.

Oh crap! I just remembered that a few years back, I was invited to be the commencement speaker at SHIT. I’m one of their prize alumni. (Do you see why I call it SHIT?) I talked all kinds of shit to the graduating criplets, but I didn’t share these tips with them. Sorry about that, criplets. Maybe the SHIT people will invite me to speak again.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2023

A Smart Ass Cripple Tip for Young Criplets


I always love giving tips to young criplets about ways I’ve found to navigate through the world as a cripple. I strongly believe that young people represent the future and it’s not  just my obligation but my honor to use the benefit of my experience to help them get ahead.

 So my tip for today is: Save your empty mayonnaise jars so you can piss in them. When you reflect back on it years later, you’ll be glad you did.

One of the first life challenges every wheelchair cripple faces is finding an adequate vessel to piss into. We wheelchair cripples (who have penises) piss from our wheelchairs, sitting down. I pissed into a mayonnaise jar when I  was a kid. But I’m not suggesting that all you criplets reflexively do the same just because I  did and I’m your role model because you admire the shit out of me. Consider the sound reasoning behind it.

The mayonnaise jar must’ve been my mother’s idea. She had good instincts as a mother of crippled kids. She probably calculated that a mayonnaise jar was precisely the right receptacle for her dear son to piss into.  A pickle jar was too bulky. The opening on a pop bottle was too narrow, leaving very little margin for error.

But my mother’s primary motivation was probably her legendary frugality. She wasn’t cheap. She was frugal. A cheap person does everything they can to keep from spending their money. A frugal person tries to get the most out of their money. A good way to accomplish this is to figure out ways to get more than one use out of things. That’s why my mother loved shopping at resale stores.

My mother approached problem-solving from this frugal perspective. So I imagine that one day while contemplating how to reuse an empty mayonnaise jar, a light bulb went off in her head.

I don’t piss into mayonnaise jars anymore, but I do retain my mother’s frugal value system. And I defend my actions by saying that I am being an environmentalist. Like for instance, when I  get carry-out food and it comes in plastic containers, I keep the containers  for a while and use them for storing other leftovers in my fridge,  thus shortening the time  these containers are cluttering up some landfill. I’m waging war against the destructiveness of America’s disposable consumer culture. I’m saving the earth, just like I was doing when I pissed into a mayonnaise jar.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Take This Social Security and Medicaid and Shove it

I saw a weird poker game on one of those obscure sports channels buried on cable in the wee hours of the morning. It was called the Social Security and Medicaid Championship Tournament.

The contestants were a blind guy, two guys in wheelchairs and a Down Syndrome woman. The grand prize was that the winner got enough money to be able to tell both Social Security and Medicaid to fuck off.

Because if you’re a cripple who needs to collect Social Security and/or Medicaid to survive, you have to be broke ass and stay broke ass. If you start making much money at all, you get kicked off because in the eyes of the law you don’t need Social Security and Medicaid to pay for all your shit anymore because you have money now so you can pay for it all yourself.

But that’s like being pushed off of a cliff because being crippled is expensive as hell. You  need things uncrippled people don’t have to worry about like wheelchairs or you may need to pay someone to help you take a shower or drag yourself in and out of bed. And you have to figure out a way to pay for all that. So just because you’re making money doesn’t mean that you’re still not broke ass and you don’t need help paying for all your shit anymore. About the only way for a cripple to suddenly leave all the  public support programs behind and still function is if they suddenly become a millionaire.

In this poker game, the pot was a million dollars. These contestants were the final four. They looked at their cards intensely. The blind guy felt the Braille bumps on his cards. He opened the bidding by throwing in five chips. The Down Syndrome woman and one of the wheelchair guys folded.

But the other wheelchair guy matched the bet. So the blind guy went all in. Not only did he push in all his chips, he also reached in his pocket and took out all his food stamps and threw them on the pile.  Then he revealed his hand. He had three kings. The wheelchair guy only had two pair.

The blind guy leapt up from his chair and raised his fists in triumph. He ripped up his food stamps and threw them in the air.

The cheerleaders did somersaults of joy. Confetti rained down. The band played a version of Take this Job and Shove it. Except the lyrics were Take this Social Security and Medicaid and Shove it.

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Sunday, February 12, 2023

The Legendary Neighborhood Autistic Guy

I was pissed off because all the accessible parking spaces were occupied at Trader Joe’s. Whenever all the accessible spots are taken like that, I always suspect that the people clogging them up aren’t entitled to be there because they lack the proper cripple credentials, such as a license plate with the wheelchair stick figure guy on it.

Anyway, that’s why I was pissed off. We had to park on the lower level, which has no accessible parking space. We made do with a regular space. I felt like a commoner. But as I entered the store a guy wearing a Trader Joe’s work shirt and nametag bellowed out, “Welcome to Trader Joe’s!”

This must be the autistic guy I’ve heard so much about, I said to myself. He’s kind of a neighborhood celebrity because he was written up in a local publication because he’s autistic and he works at Trader Joe’s. Our societal opinion of crippledness has advanced to the point where possessing either of those characteristics unto themselves doesn’t make one particularly newsworthy, but when you put together the two, that’s a human-interest feature just dying to be written.

How did I know he was the legendary autistic guy? I mean, autistic people  aren’t immediately obvious. You can see a wheelchair cripple coming from a mile away. And blind people  are a dead giveaway with their white canes and dogs.  But people with autism aren’t as easy to peg. I’m told that some of them are wild eyed and snort a lot. (Or is that Tourette’s people? Or maybe that’s schizophrenics. I get mixed up.) But this guy didn’t display any of that. And he certainly wasn’t wearing a button that said HELLO I’M AUTISTIC.

No, the reason I figured he  must be autistic was because he was so enthused about working at Trader Joe’s.  I know that’s screwed up of me to assume that if a person  is excited to  be working at a place like Trader Joe’s they must be autistic. But really, the only other people that are really enthused to be working at corporate places like Trader Joe’s or  Burger King are people in commercials.

But actually, why is being enthused about what you’re doing such a bad thing? Isn’t that what we all want, to be happy and content as much as possible? I could stand to give myself a break in that regard. I’m always finding myself trying hard to resist enjoying simple things, I guess because I have this dumb idea that enjoying simple things means I ‘m a simple person. I don’t know what prize that attitude will win me in the end.

The autistic guy (alleged) hustled ahead of me and pushed the elevator button. The door opened and he welcomed me in with a swoop of his arm. As we rode up in the elevator, I was star struck to be in his presence, like he was Brad Pitt or something.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Don't Mess with the Allowance Clerk


When I was a teenage inmate at a state operated boarding school for cripples, which I affectionately referred to as the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT), I had a student/work job. I didn’t apply for this job or anything. They just gave it to me.

I was the allowance clerk. Every Friday evening a staff member would receive a bunch of envelopes that looked like miniature manila envelopes and each one had an inmates name written on front and a few coins inside. The staff member would pass out the envelopes to the various inmates and that was their allowance. That was basically the money we spent on the vending machines around SHIT.

Before any of that happened, I went up to the Social Services office every Friday afternoon and fulfilled my duties as allowance clerk. Waiting for me was a metal box full of coins, stacks of those envelopes and a list of every inmate who received an allowance and how much they received. I would write the name on each envelope, drop in the appropriate amount of coins and seal the envelope by licking the adhesive patch under the flap.

Not every inmate got the same amount. Some received as much as a dollar and some only got a quarter. Every inmate had an allowance account that their parents or whoever was their legal guardian put money into. How much they got depended on how much was in their account and how their parent or legal guardian designated that it be distributed.

I was among the ones who weren’t even on my list because we didn’t get any allowance. At first that made me jealous of the kids who received a dollar. I wanted to be one of them. But I came to realize that those kids were the ones everyone referred to as wards of the state. That meant that the state was their legal guardian because their parents were AWOL. So nobody wanted to be like them, even if their allowance was a dollar, because the reason they got a dollar probably was that the state felt sorry for them because if the state didn’t give them vending machine money no one else was going to.

I figured I didn’t get an allowance from SHIT because my mother didn’t establish an account because it wasn’t necessary. She was very present in my life. I went home every weekend and if I needed money for vending machines and such, she gave it to me. I was lucky I didn’t need a SHIT allowance.

 Being the allowance clerk gave me a certain sense of power. If someone pissed me off, I could put a snotty Kleenex or a cock roach in their envelope. And every inmate knew that I knew a deep, dark secret about them (how much allowance they received), so, I could tell the whole world who only received a quarter. But somehow, I never did. I don’t know why. It’s not like I took an oath of secrecy or anything. But nobody ever pushed me to the point where I  wanted to do that. Maybe they all knew better than to mess with the allowance clerk.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2023

My Inner Heckler



I have an inner heckler. It’s somewhere out there in the audience. I hear it all the time.

It started riding my ass when I was about 12 years old or so. Its wisecracks aren’t very wise. It says stuff like, “You suck” and, “Don’t quit your day job!”

I hear my inner heckler loudest in those quiet, meditative moments. But I’ve never seen its face because the audience is a black abyss. I’m blinded by all the bright lights shinning on me. That’s how hecklers like him operate. They’re brash and bold as long as they can remain in the dark. They’re anonymous bullies, like those faceless commenters on the internet.

And I don’t think I’m the only one who's being hounded by an inner heckler. I see people watching wrestling, spellbound. I see people wearing those virtual reality goggles and vigorously sword fighting nobody. I see people in churches, surrendering their souls to an invisible deity.

It seems to me that these people are all trying to drown out their inner hecklers. But it’s a futile game. You can’t win. If you pay any attention at all to the inner heckler, it wins because it just wants to distract you.

Please don’t get me wrong. I know heckling can be a good thing sometimes. It can be a constructive force, if done for the right reasons. It all depends on who’s heckling whom. Like for instance, heckling a fascist is always a good thing because then you’re distracting them from being a fascist, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

But other than that, the way to beat a heckler is to not pay any attention to them. So the best thing to do with your inner heckler is to try your best to ignore it and carry on, unless you’re a fascist.

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