Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Bravest Dog in the World



Everybody’s seen that annual thing called the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. People parade their absolutely perfect dogs around and the most absolutely perfect dog of all wins a blue ribbon for Best in Show.

So of course there are no crippled dog allowed. A three-legged dog or a deaf dog or blind dog wouldn’t stand a chance since the winning dog has to be absolutely perfect.

But how come there isn’t a Westminster show for crippled dogs? Somebody really ought to put one together. I think it would be a big hit. People love crippled dogs. It would be like the doggie Special Olympics. And every dog would get a ribbon just for showing up and trying.

Only crippled dogs allowed. An absolutely perfect dog wouldn’t stand a chance because that which is a crippled dog’s primary liability in the regular Westminster show would be their primary asset in the show for crippled dogs. The more pitiful a dog, the more formidable a contender it would be.

And so the top dog to beat would be that spinal cord injured dog who gets around with that two-wheeled contraption attached to its hind quarters. It’s the dog that looks like it comes with training wheels.

And for the grand finale, this dog and all the other crippled dogs are lined up at the starting line on a running track. And at the finish line at the end each lane is a bowlful of hamburger or something. All the crippled dogs race for their bowl but the winning dog isn’t necessarily the one that gets there first. No, the winning dog is the one that exhibits the most pluck and determination in getting to their bowl. The greater the struggle, the better. It’s not the destination that matters most. It’s the journey.

The judges hold up their cards. And that dog is awarded the blue ribbon and the coveted title of  The Bravest Dog in the World.

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Thursday, October 7, 2021

Fooling the Verts



Your average Joe or Jane Pedestrian can’t tell cripples apart without a scorecard. If you sit me next to a guy in a wheelchair who has cerebral palsy and another guy in a wheelchair who’s a quad, there’s no way most people will be able to tell which cripple is which. We all look the same to the verts (which is what I call people who walk because it's short for vertical).

Some people seem to think this is always a bad thing for cripples. Thus, they dedicate themselves to setting the record straight by undertaking awareness campaigns designed explode myths about certain types of crippledness.

But I often wish these people would mind their own damn business. I’m afraid their tenacious meddling will eventually blow my cover and my gig. It’s quite comforting for me to know that, if necessary, I can exploit these myths to my advantage.

Like for instance, suppose I knock over somebody or something by running into it or them with my wheelchair, either accidentally or on purpose.  I can  say, “Ooops, sorry I had a spasm.” And that pretty much gets me off the hook. But if too many people know that  the cerebral palsy guys, and not cripples like me, are the ones who have spasms, that cheap and easy excuse won’t fly for me anymore.

Or suppose I get mad and loudly cuss somebody out. If that person thinks all cripples have something like Tourette’s, where we have uncontrollable outbursts, that  person will be a lot less likely to cuss back at me or slug me. And actually, it’s not even true that Tourette’s people go around randomly cussing people out, so we’ve also got to be careful not to explode that myth.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

So you see, the general ignorance about crippledom which I’ve learned how to deftly cash in on is a delicate house of cards. It doesn’t take much to mess it all up and mess me up, too.

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Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Old Bologna Sandwich Routine


 Anybody who has ever been taken into custody by the police for protesting has probably been through the old bologna sandwich routine.

Somewhere in the penal code, it must say that if the police hold you beyond a certain amount of time, they have to feed you. But it must not say what they have to feed you. That’s probably left up to the police. Thus, when that designated feeding time comes around, the police do the absolute minimum to fulfill their obligation to the law. They give you a bologna sandwich. And it’s a minimalist bologna sandwich at that. It’s a single slice of bologna smashed up between two pieces of dry, cottony white bread. It’s a sad little sandwich that looks like it was made in a sheltered workshop. Condiments? Ha! Whudaya think this is, The Ritz?

When they bring you that bologna sandwich, it’s like they’re trying to be smart asses about it. It feels like they’re mocking you. The times I’ve gone through the old bologna sandwich routine have reminded  me of my adolescent days when I was in a state-operated  boarding school for cripples, which I refer to as the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT). There were many mealtimes when we were served a UFO (Unidentifiable Food Object). It was “food” only in the most technical sense. It was quite disheartening to be served a UFO. It felt like it was intended to break my spirit and beat me down

This kind of thing happens a lot to cripples in nursing homes, too. They’re served an amorphous, gray slab. (Could it be meat? A sponge?)  Condiments? Ha! Whudaya think this is, The Ritz?

But you know what? When you’re in police custody and they bring you that damn bologna sandwich, you eat it all up. Yep, in spite of the sneering sarcasm of it all, you say fuck pride and you eat that sandwich all up, because you know that’s all you’re gonna get. And we ate up the UFOs at SHIT, too. And we did it for the same reason.

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Thursday, September 16, 2021

I Could Have Been the Spelling King


It occurred to me recently that I never took part in a spelling bee as a kid.

I’m  sure I was automatically excluded because I was crippled. And now that I’m thinking about it, I’ve still never seen a kid who is obviously crippled in a spelling bee. It’s probably happened somewhere because these days, what with laws and all, it’s a lot harder to turn crippled kids away if they’re determined to win that shiny spelling trophy.

And besides, there really isn’t any reason crippled kids can’t be in spelling bees. Even if a kid can’t talk, they can use one of those Stephen Hawking talking boxes to spell out the word. Okay maybe it might be hard to figure out a way for a deaf kid to compete. Someone would have to show them the word and that would defeat the purpose. Either that or the interpreter would have to finger spell it out, unless it was some word for which there is a symbol in sign language, like maybe the word football. But who the hell doesn’t know how to spell football?

There was no reason to exclude crippled kids from spelling bees back when I was a criplet either. But they did. If pushed, the spelling bee organizers probably would’ve said they were excluding us for our own protection, which is the most common excuse for excluding us. They probably would’ve said something like crippled kids are too emotionally fragile to withstand the pain of being rejected for misspelling a word. Or maybe other spellers and their families would’ve complained that we had an unfair competitive advantage because we’re crippled and judges are afraid to reject us so they’ll give us easier words to spell like dog and cat. You know how it is if you introduce cripples into the mix. Everything gets watered down.

I really missed out on something by not being in any spelling bees. I definitely would’ve made my mark. As a kid, I was psychopathically competitive so I would have been driven to become Spelling King by any means necessary. And I would’ve made headlines for trying to poison my rivals.

So it's probably  a good thing I was excluded, for my own protection. 

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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Defiantly Bald



For some reason, I really bristle hard when I see ads for products that are supposed to be a cure or treatment for baldness. I renew with myself my solemn, adamant, longtime vow that when my hair falls out, I will make absolutely no attempt to stop it from happening.

I bristle hard the same way when I hear the term “physically challenged.” It makes me renew my solemn, adamant, longtime vow to never use that phrase to refer to myself or any other cripple ever. First of all, that phrase forgets that crippledom is a spectrum. For example, people who are schizophrenic or bipolar are crippled, too. But nobody calls them “emotionally challenged “  or anything like that because it sounds stupid, right? There’s something laughably softball about it. It tries so hard to downplay that type of crippledness that it sounds ridiculous.

And the reason it downplays crippledness is the same reason anybody downplays crippledness: because we think it’s something to be ashamed of. We can’t just call it what it is.

So maybe that’s why ads for these types of products irk me so. I feel like those that are peddling them are trying to make us all ashamed to be bald and that pisses me off. How dare they.

It almost makes me want to go bald quick so I can give the finger to those guys by not buying their shit, in the hope that this pisses them off as much as they piss me off. Sometimes I feel like shaving my head or yanking out my hair just to hasten the process, but that would be cheating.

 When the day comes that I am bald, I will be unapologetically, defiantly bald. And I will proudly refer to myself as bald. I will never let anybody say I’m follicly challenged.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Shit I Put Up With


 Each generation of cripples evaluates previous generations of cripples by the shit they up with.

Like for instance, every time I come to a street corner I expect the curbs to be ramped so I can cross the street. It’s very rare to come across a curb that isn’t ramped and when I do I’m pissed. And then I remember about 50 or 60 years ago when curbs were all over the place and there were no ramps. Back then cripples learned the survival skill of curb jumping. They’d pop a wheelie and bounce down a curb. To go up a curb they’d get a flying start in the middle of the  crosswalk and pop a wheelie at the last minute and land their front tires up on the curb and try to use the momentum to bring the rest of the wheelchair up over the curb.

But what if you weren’t one of those gorilla cripples who can whip a wheelchair around and pop wheelies, which most cripples aren’t? Well, you either had a companion or passerby help you up and down curbs or you stayed home.

And then I wonder how that generation of cripples put up with that shit. What a bunch of wusses those guys must’ve been.  And then I tell myself if I was an adult cripple back then, I sure as hell wouldn’t have put up with it! I’d have been among those who raised hell about it so that now there are ramps all over the place!

But when I start feeling all righteous and superior about all that, I think about all the shit I still put up with. Like for instance, when I fly on a commercial airline, they won’t let me sit in my wheelchair on the plane. I have to sit in a regular airline seat and they take my chair away and throw it in with the baggage. And the baggage handlers might mangle the hell out of it. And if I have to pee while in flight I’m screwed again because the bathrooms are so goddam tiny and I couldn’t get to the bathrooms  even if they weren’t tiny because they took my wheelchair away.

So what do I do about this?  Well, I just go along with it. I let them take my chair away and pray hard that they don’t mangle the hell out it. And to reduce the odds of having to pee, I dehydrate myself all day before I fly.

I hope a generation of cripples in the near future will raise hell about this so cripples will no longer be separated from our wheelchairs when we fly. And that generation will shake their heads and wonder how today’s cripples could've been such a bunch of wusses.

And when they start feeling all righteous and superior about it, they’ll think about all the shit they still put up with.

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Thursday, August 12, 2021

Inaccessible Pizza


Since I am about to blow the whistle on a dangerous food product, I will give the protagonist of this true story a Smart Ass Cripple alias. I’ll call him Joe DiMaggio.

Joe DiMaggio is blind and the father of two boys, ages 6 and 8. One day recently, Joe DiMaggio was preparing to make dinner for them. So he set the oven on 450 degrees and took a frozen pizza from Home Run Inn out of the freezer. He placed the pizza on the rack inside the hot oven. But about 15 minutes later, the smoke detector was blaring and black smoke billowed from the oven.

Joe DiMaggio says, "There was literally a grease fire in the bottom of the oven."

That happened because Joe DiMaggio put the pizza on the rack upside down and the cheese dripped down onto the coils on the bottom of the oven and ignited.

Joe DiMaggio thinks Home Run Inn is "the best” frozen pizza. But this was the third time he'd placed one in the oven upside down and a fire ensued. And every time it was a plain cheese pizza.

It’s hard for a blind person to tell which side is which on a Home Run Inn plain cheese pizza because the cheese is smooth. On other frozen pizzas, Joe DiMaggio says, the cheese is in shreds so that provides a reliable, Braille-like clue as to which side the toppings are on.

The same is true, Joe DiMaggio says, of Home Run Inn pizzas with additional bumpy toppings like pepperoni or veggies.  "I've never put a sausage one in upside down,” he says.

The other problem is that Home Run Inn frozen pizzas don’t come with the customary cardboard disc that provides an additional indicator of which side is the bottom.

And Joe DiMaggio isn’t the only blind person having this problem. He also has a brother who is blind, whom I will call Dom DiMaggio. And Dom has also put Home Run Inn cheese pizzas in the oven upside down.

So I called the Home Run Inn headquarters and I ended up with a pleasant customer service agent named Michelle. I told her about the plight of Joe and Dom. She acknowledged that the cheese on Home Run Inn pizzas is smooth because the pizzas are baked before they are frozen. She also said that no cardboard discs are included because the cardboard absorbs moisture from the pizza and makes the crust brittle.

Thus, Michelle said, even sighted people have reported putting cheese pizzas in the oven upside down because it’s also hard to tell top from bottom visually. Michelle said she tells people there are tiny ventilation holes on the bottom of the pizza that look like the crust was stabbed several times with a fork.  If you see them, you know that’s the bottom. Michelle said she hopes Joe Dom and other blind people can find the holes by feeling for them. “I'm sure their sense of touch is much more acute than yours and mine," she said.

 So I passed that tip along to Joe DiMaggio. If it doesn’t work, he may have to resort to desperate measures in his quest to successfully find his way around a frozen Home Run Inn cheese pizza when feeding  his hungry boys.

"I've thought about giving it a quick lick," he says.

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