Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Bingo is Something About us Without us

 

 There’s a saying some cripples use a lot: Nothing About Us Without Us. It means, “The person who decides what I need and want should be me, dammit!”

That saying resonates with cripples because we're used to uncrippled people, like doctors and social workers and the heads of giant-ass charities, deciding what we need and what we’ll get because they think it’s too dangerous for us to decide for ourselves.  And so we end up with a lot of useless stuff bestowed upon us in the name of helping us out. It’s a lot of something about us without us.

A good example of something about us without us is bingo. A lot of cripples end up in nursing homes. And when they do they end up playing a lot of bingo. That's because there are people whose job it is to plan and conduct activities for people who reside in nursing homes. And the people who decide what these activities will be are not the ones who are expected to take part in them. And if they don’t ask the people they are planning the activities for what they want to do, all they can do is guess, based on their notion of the kinds of things cripples want to do.

But I’ve never met a cripple who has playing bingo at the top of their agenda. I’m sure there are some, because there are bingo addicts in every population and the crippled population is no exception. But it’s probably not being crippled that has made them bingo addicts. They’d probably be bingo addicts whether they were crippled or not. That's how bingo addicts are.

The reason why nursing home activity planners don’t ask cripples what they really want to do is probably because they’re afraid of what the answer will be. They know it probably will involve stuff like vodka and/or sex and having that kind of fun is off limits in a nursing home. And by the time you rule out all the fun stuff that’s off limits in a nursing home, there’s not much left except bingo and maybe square dancing.

That’s why I hate bingo. I’ve got nothing against the game per se. I just hate what it represents. Bingo is a symbol of cripple oppression and our lack of self-determination. I have to admit that I’ve even sometimes had fun playing bingo. The most fun I had was when I played drag queen bingo. It was like regular bingo except the caller was a drag queen. And the drag queen was hilarious, which made playing the game campy fun.

If I’m ever stuck in a nursing home and all they have to offer me is bingo, I hope it will at least  be drag queen bingo. But having that kind of fun will probably be off limits.

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Monday, November 21, 2022

That Coveted Captive Cripple Demographic

 

I’ve never seen a television commercial for a nursing home. I’ve seen commercials for everything from kitchen gadgets to boner pills. And I’ve seen plenty of commercials for those retirement communities for old people. They make them seem like blissful stud pastures where all the residents do all day is eat gourmet food and dance. But you never see any cripples in commercials like that because they don’t send cripples to places like that. Cripples go to nursing homes, unless they have bottomless buckets full of money.

The only television commercials I’ve seen that mention nursing homes are for those lawyers who sue nursing homes for abuse and neglect. I’ve seen a lot of highway billboards for those guys too. But I’ve never seen a billboard advertising for a nursing home either.

 I’d sure hate to be an advertising executive charged with coming up with television commercials and/or billboards that make a certain nursing home look like a great place to live. That would be a thankless job, even for a seasoned bull shit artist like an advertising executive, because everybody knows nursing homes are dumping grounds. You don’t just check into one for fun like it’s a resort. You surrender yourself over to one because you have no choice.

That’s probably why nursing homes don’t bother advertising on broadcast media and billboards. They know it’s a waste of money. Fortunately for them, they don’t have to go to such lengths to recruit because they know the chute is greased enough to keep a steady flow of potential customers (a.k.a abandoned cripples with nowhere else to go) falling into their laps-. The nursing home marketers only reach out to those who have been defeated to the point of surrender. They save all their highly-polished bull shit for those colorful brochures they hand out that say, in essence, since you gotta go live in a nursing home, you might as well live in ours.

Maybe if I someday see a television commercial or a billboard for a nursing home it’ll be a good thing. Maybe it’ll mean they’re getting desperate.


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Wednesday, November 9, 2022

At the Mercy of the Court

 

I was trying get out of paying a parking ticket. So I went to the city facility where hearings about parking tickets are held.

First I had to pass through a metal detector. Except wheelchairs are too wide to fit through those things and even if they could all the metal makes the alarms go berserk. So the security guy waved me around to his side and passed over me with his wand, like he was setting some sort of spell on me or trying to rid me of evil spirits.

Then I entered a small courtroom. The only person in there was a man sitting behind a large desk on high. His vantage point was such that he could look down upon anyone else in the room, like a  priest presiding over a Mass. So I figured this guy must be the judge, even though he wasn’t wearing a robe or a powdered wig or anything like that. He wasn’t even wearing a tie.

I sat before the judge and he told me to raise my right hand. I told him I was physically unable to do that. He smiled a warm, awkward smile of dispensation and moved on to the next step in the proceedings.

I wondered if this might be one of those times when my  crippledness works in my favor. Because I ‘ve noticed that playing up the cripple angle seems to be a popular strategy for celebrity defendants. When Bill Cosby got in trouble with the law, he tapped around the courthouse with a white cane and made it real clear how blind he was. Harvey Weinstein walked with a walker.  And former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert showed up in a wheelchair.

Maybe these guys were all playing the cripple card and throwing themselves at the mercy of the court. I don’t know. But it must not have worked very well because they all got convicted.

The judge dismissed my parking ticket so maybe my crippledness worked for me. Or maybe I just presented a good case. I don't know and I didn’t ask. I just thanked him and got the hell out of there.

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Sunday, October 30, 2022

A Dog Freaked Out

 

I was taking a leisurely afternoon stroll around a campground. Coming toward me was a man walking a dog.

 When the dog saw me he freaked out. He was immediately on high alert. His ears went up like antenna. He stiffened and then did an agitated dance. And then he hid behind the legs of his human walker

The human laughed uneasily and apologized to me on behalf of the dog.

“That’s all right,” I said. “He’s afraid of the wheelchair. I’ve seen it before.”

I’ve also gotten the opposite reaction from dogs. I once came across a woman walking a big dog and when the dog saw me he started panting heavily and dancing for joy. The dog seemed bent on jumping on my lap and smothering me with sloppy kisses. The dog stood up on his hind legs as the woman pulled back hard on his leash to keep him away from me.

“I’m sorry,” the woman said to me. “His favorite person is in a wheelchair.”

That’s what I love about dogs. They’re honest. They don’t bull shit around about how they feel.

Anyway, the man walking his dog around the campground gestured toward my wheelchair and said, “It's just that he’s never seen one of those before. He’ll get used to it.”

The man and his dog proceeded on past me. The dog looked at me suspiciously the whole time.

That encounter made me feel hopeful and optimistic. It made me feel grateful for my crippled ancestors who came before me. Because that dog freaked out like a lot of humans freak out when they encounter a cripple, only the humans aren’t honest enough to admit it.  Instead of doing agitated dances, humans react in more subtle ways, like not making eye contact or building things with steps on the front entrance so cripples can’t get in.

 But life has generally gotten better. Navigating through each day is smoother for me than it was for the generation of cripples that came before me and the generation that came before them. And that’s because more and more of those cripples didn’t stay home and hide.  They went out and about and eventually humans didn’t freak out as much. They got used to us.

And I  have faith that things will go even smoother in the future for the criplets of today because I’m out and about.

I really enjoyed my afternoon stroll.


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Monday, October 17, 2022

Cripples in Heat

 

I never received sex education in school. I’m sure there are two main reasons why.

The first reason was probably because that was during the 1960s and early 1970s, when sex education wasn’t a regular feature of school curricula. But the biggest reason was probably because the schools I went to prior to college were for cripples only and whereas the idea of talking about sexuality in school was controversial enough at the time, the idea of uttering a word about sex in a school full of cripples would’ve been considered downright perverted. Hell, it was the kind of thing that might even get you arrested.

Because for some reason, some people seem to think that cripples aren’t interested in sex and it’s best to keep it that way. Maybe they think that cripples spend all of our time suffering and suffering takes up all of our limited time and energy so we don’t get around to worrying about things like getting laid. I think it comes from the perspective that sees cripples as childlike, no mater how old we are. And so exposing cripples to sex in any way is like exposing children to sex. It practically makes you a pedophile.

One thing I know about people who believe stuff like that is that they must not know any cripples very well. Cripples are probably the horniest people I know.  It seems like cripples are always in heat. You know what I mean if you’ve ever been to a large gathering of cripples, like a conference or a convention or a protest action or something, and witnessed everyone buzzing around trying to get laid.

But even though the education system didn’t tell us criplets anything about how sex works, we figured it out anyway, like all kids do. I don’t recall how I figured it out. I think that I just kept my ears open and one day it all clicked. They say that if a kid has questions about sex, they’re supposed to ask their parents about it. But those were the last people I thought about asking because I assumed they didn’t know a damn thing about such stuff. And when I did figure out how it all worked, my parents were the last people I wanted tell because I thought I knew some deep, dark secret they did know and if I tried to explain it to them they’d be all grossed out. But when  I figured out that part, too, I was the one who was grossed out.


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Friday, October 7, 2022

The Inspiring Story of Bucket Foot Bob

 

I went to a support group meeting for cripples. A new guy limped in. He clanged when he walked because his right foot was stuck in a bucket.

Even all us cripples couldn’t help but stare at him and some even snickered. But the new guy just kept walking straight on in and sat in a chair. He propped his right foot up on a stool in front of him.

The facilitator of our group said, “I’d like everyone to welcome our visitor, Bucket Foot Bob.”

Bucket Foot Bob jumped right in and said, “Actually, my name is Maurice. But you can call me Bucket Foot Bob if you want to. Why not? Everybody else does. I used to hate that name but now I’m trying to learn to embrace it.”

Bucket Foot Bob continued. “Because as you can see, my foot is stuck in a bucket. I don’t know how it happened. One night I got blackout drunk and when I woke up in the morning, there it was. And having my foot stuck in a bucket has cost me dearly in life. I have been the victim of much discrimination. I lost my job. My boss told me that my clanging around the office was too distracting for my coworkers. My wife left me. She said I wasn’t the same man she married anymore, what with my foot stuck in a bucket and all. My landlord evicted me because the people in the apartment below mine complained that I made too much noise when I  walked.”

As I listened to Bucket Foot Bob’s sad story, I felt real sorry for him, but I wondered why he didn’t just have the bucket removed.

And then Bucket Foot Bob said, “You’re probably wondering why I don’t just have the bucket removed. Well, don’t you think I’ve tried that? I mean, my foot is really jammed in there good. I’ve tried everything to get it out. I’ve tried crow bars. I’ve tried lard. But my foot won’t budge.

“My only option is to have it surgically removed. But that operation costs $10,000. I have health insurance, but it doesn’t cover bucket removal. Maybe someday we’ll have socialized medicine in this country and I’ll be able to have my bucket removed, no cost and no questions asked. But until then, I’m stuck, no pun intended.”

Bucket Foot Bob said, “So that’s why I’m here. I’m looking for a community of like-minded people who will welcome me as one of their own. I used to be embarrassed by my bucket but now I’m rather proud of it. It’s part of who I am. It doesn’t dehumanize me. It humanizes me. It makes a statement that says, ‘Yes, I’m a slapstick klutz. But isn’t everyone?’ And so, my brothers and sisters, I hope you will accept me into your tribe.”

The facilitator said, “I move that we accept Bucket Foot Bob into our group! All in favor say aye!

Aye!

The vote was unanimous!


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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Smart Ass Cripple's Disease

 

I need to hurry up and  become super famous. I’m talking about that rare Lou Gehrig level of fame.

It’s a daunting task but I think I can do it. I’m certainly motivated enough to try. Because there’s one  glaringly unachieved goal remaining on my bucket list. I want to be famous enough to have a disease named after me.

And I want to do it the hard way, like Lou Gehrig did. I feel like any old punk can take the shortcut by discovering a disease and then having it named after them, like Alzheimer or Parkinson. That seems like cheating.

But when a disease is named after you just because you have it, now that’s famous! But it has to be a certain kind of famous. Look at Michael J. Fox, for instance. He has Parkinson’s, but they still call it Parkinson’s. I’ve never heard about any groundswell to rename it Michael J. Fox’s disease. I guess he's not famous in the right way.

And what about Stephen Hawking ? He’s just as famous as Lou Gehrig, but nobody calls what made him crippled Stephen Hawking’s Disease. Maybe it’s a matter of first come first serve and  Lou Gehrig beat him to it. Or maybe you have to have the kind of fame that is free from all taint of infamy. Some people might consider Stephen Hawking to be a bit bawdy. Maybe someday something will happen  to sully Lou Gehrig’s good name. Like maybe it’ll come out that his hobby was kicking puppies. Then maybe he’ll be stripped of his disease and the title will be awarded to Stephen Hawking.

But I’m at the stage of life where a man thinks a lot about his legacy, and I really want mine to include having that which has made me crippled renamed Smart Ass Cripple’s Disease. I believe I’m crippled because of something called Spinal Muscular Atrophy aka SMA. I’ve never been officially diagnosed because it really doesn’t matter to me.  Knowing what makes me crippled doesn’t make me any less crippled.

So I’m halfway toward achieving my goal. I already have a disease. Now I just have to figure out how to get famous enough to have SMA renamed Smart Ass Cripple’s Disease. But that probably won’t ever happen. I’m too bawdy.

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