Sunday, July 12, 2020

Separation of Church and State at the Sam Houston Institute of Technology or the All- Crippled Nativity Scene

When I look back on the years I spent in the 1970s as an inmate at a state-operated boarding school for cripples, which I affectionately refer to as the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT), I realize there must’ve been a time when one of those litigious atheists sued the place.
Because on Sunday afternoons a priest came in and held Catholic mass upstairs in one of the classrooms. And yes, I attended. But I was only about 14 at the time so gimme a break. I hadn’t quite shaken off the shackles of Catholic guilt.
But then suddenly the priest stopped coming and we were told there wouldn’t be any more masses. Rather than being pissed, I felt relieved. Now I know that I felt that way because the only reason I attended the classroom mass was because I didn’t have an excuse not to. If I was at home on a Sunday, I had a good excuse not to go to mass or Sunday school or any of that stuff because the church had stairs so God forgave me for not going. But at SHIT, all I had to do to attend mass was take an elevator upstairs so Catholic guilt kicked in.
Now it seems clear to me that the only thing that could’ve stopped the priest from coming was an assertion of the separation of church and state. I never went to mass again. So I’m grateful to the litigious atheist for restoring my precious get-out-of-going-to- mass-for-free card and thus hastening my break from Catholicism. I’m confident that break would have happened eventually anyway, but the sooner the better.
However, I also have to say that I’m glad the atheist didn’t strike any sooner than they did because if they did I never would have had a religious experience I had at SHIT that I still cherish. We all gathered in the gym for an assembly. It must’ve been around Christmas because the curtain on the stage opened and revealed various other inmates forming an all-crippled nativity scene. There was Joseph in a wheelchair, a blind Mary, a one-armed angel, etc. There were various crippled barnyard animals. This deaf kid named Teel had on a brown coat with a long brown tail pinned on it so I guess he was supposed to be a donkey. And this polio kid named Randall Harvey who was sitting next to me in the audience leaned over and said, “Look at Teel up there on stage making an ass out of himself.”
I got to see an all-crippled nativity scene without taking heavy drugs. Very few people can say that. It makes me feel special.
It was so wonderfully bizarre. If the litigious atheist had prevailed sooner it would never have happened. Or maybe the cops would’ve raided the gym and shut the nativity scene down. In that case, I would’ve been pissed. 

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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

As Tough as a Cooped-Up Cripple

I see all these people running off to Disneyland and water parks and shit or cramming themselves into crowded bars even though it might make them get sick and die and part of me wants to laugh. I shake my head and say to myself, “Man, these poor saps sure would make lousy cripples.”
Those people aren’t nearly tough enough to succeed at being a cripple. I mean, after just three months of living the cooped up life they’re so desperate to bust out that they can’t even think straight. But hell, a lot of cripples live the cooped up life for years on end. It might be that they’re cooped up because they’re too crippled to go very far but it could be for a lot of other reasons, too, like maybe they’re too broke ass to go very far.  A lot of cripples are really broke ass and being broke ass will sure as hell keep you cooped up, even if you’re not crippled.
And Lord, some cripples are not just housebound but bedbound. Staying in bed all day may not sound so bad. That’s how some people spend their vacations. It’s the kind of life to which a lot of people think they aspire. But it gets old fast. Staying in bed all day is not for people with a weak constitution. Those bedbound cripples are the toughest cripples of all. They have to be. They have to figure out how to stay engaged and entertained while staying in bed (alone). Not all of them succeed. Some get sucked up into the undertows of addiction that drain dry the mind and spirit, such as watching  porn, dumb sitcom reruns, game shows and/or Christian  and right wing TV. But a lot of bedbound cripples persevere through boredom and with enough trial and error practice, they get the hang of staying in bed all day and still feeling sharp.
They’re the best equipped to win the cooped up marathon. They’ve been training for it for a long time. When they see on TV all those people at Disneyland and water parks and in bars they probably shake their heads and laugh about what wimps those people are.
It’s survival of the toughest.

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Thursday, June 18, 2020

The Right to be a Masochist

I saw an ad for a gym that says they roll out the red carpet for cripples. They say their staff will pay special attention to any cripple that asks. They will help cripples who sign up with their gym develop a regular workout routine which will in turn help the cripple overcome feelings of anxiety, depression and isolation.

Well I guess it’s mighty nice of whoever runs that gym to try to make cripples feel welcome like that. But no thanks. In fact, I’m sorry to say it has the opposite effect on me. If I was looking to sign up with a gym, after seeing that ad I would definitely avoid that one.

First off, it’s pretty much a moot point because am not now nor have I ever been a “workout” type of guy. I don’t get it. It seems masochistic to get a big rush out of doing a bunch of pushups. I thought doing pushups was supposed to be punishment. If you piss off your drill sergeant he tells you to go do a thousand pushups. Maybe doing pushups makes you feel good about yourself in the same way you feel good about yourself when you eat fresh fruit for breakfast instead of cold pizza. What you really feel is the satisfaction of not feeling guilty. Maybe for some people pleasure is defined as the absence of guilt.

And if I was looking for an antidote for anxiety, depression and isolation, I sure wouldn’t go to a gym. I’d probably go to an orgy or something.

But let’s say, just for the sake of giving me something to write about, that there was a massive explosion somewhere in a distant galaxy that rearranged all matter in the universe so radically that I might conceivably develop a vague inkling to sign up with a gym. I would still stay away from that gym that’s so eagerly courting cripples for fear of feeling too welcome. I’d be afraid that the minute I rolled in I’d be swarmed over by unctuous trainers bent on helping me overcome my feelings of anxiety, depression and isolation. I mean of course I feel anxious, depressed and isolated sometimes. Who the hell doesn’t? But it’s not just because I’m crippled. It’s not like if I was suddenly cured I wouldn’t feel any of those things anymore. Every single uncrippled person finds plenty that makes them feel anxious, depressed and isolated. But when they come into a gym, nobody thinks they're duty-bound to help them overcome all that.

I would want to just get in, quietly torture myself in peace and get out, just like everybody else at the gym. Cripples can be masochists, too, you know.

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Saturday, June 6, 2020

Special Needs?

Recently, I felt compelled to look myself straight in the eye and ask myself a sobering question: Am I a person with special needs?

It grates on me when people refer to cripples that way. I guess what I don’t like about special needs is it sounds too much like an apology. It makes us sound like we’re suffocatingly needy. On the other hand, it grates on me just as much when people do the opposite and say that cripples are just like other people. But the vast majority of other people don’t pee and or eat through a tube, like a lot of cripples do. So why should cripples try to pretend that we’re not different, unless being different is something to be ashamed of?

So maybe the fact that I ride around in a motorized wheelchair and pay other people to wipe my butt really does mean I am indeed a person with special needs. Maybe I ought to just admit and embrace it.

But upon further reflection, I determined that special needs doesn’t apply to me. Because first, it’s usually only used when talking about children. Nobody talks about special needs adults, unless it’s someone with something like Down syndrome, where it’s still considered okay to look upon them as a child. Children can be forgiven for having special needs. It’s not their fault. They’re innocent. But when you’re as old and hairy as I am and you still have special needs, it’s about time you got over it. Needy has become greedy.

I also determined why that special needs term grates on me. It’s because in order for something to be considered special, it must be compared to some norm. So what are normal human needs? They would be the needs that humans have. And some humans need to do things like pee and or breathe through a tube or pay other people to wipe their butts. So if that’s what they need and they’re human, then it’s a normal human need. It only becomes special if having this need somehow calls your status as human into question. To need beyond a certain standard allotment is to be extraordinarily needy.

Humans are a needy bunch. What’s wrong with that?

So I don’t want to call anybody a person with special needs. I just want to call everybody a person with needs. But that would be redundant.

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

It’s as if People Who Have no Limbs Don’t Exist

There is now a Barbie doll that has a partially amputated leg and among her accessories is a removable prosthesis. 

Some people think this is a big deal for cripples. Now that the Mattel company has officially acknowledged our existence, that means that we, as a crippled people, have arrived at the Promised Land.
Well far be it from me to be a buzzkill, but I’m not satisfied. I don’t think this paltry gesture is nearly good enough. Our journey as cripples is not complete. We have not arrived. As long as Barbie is missing just one limb, we are, at best, one fourth of the way there.

I’ll admit that a 1.5 legged Barbie is small step forward. But we can’t let it stop there. I can’t help but think about the all the cripples I’ve known who are missing more than one limb. Hell, I’ve known many cripples who have no limbs at all and they’re all fine upstanding people. Well, they’re all fine people, anyway. But what about them? Aren’t they our brethren? They deserve their chance to stand up and be counted. Well, they deserve their chance to be counted, anyway.
We live in a society where it’s as if people who have no limbs don’t exist. And I for one am sick of it! And Barbie, whether she wants to admit or not, is a powerful agent for change. She makes a fashion statement and millions of people follow. Her status as a global celebrity gives her a unique platform and she cannot shirk her responsibility to use it to lift up the marginalized. And who’s more marginalized than people with no limbs?

So we have to demand that Barbie lead the way. If Barbie wants to truly call herself a cripple ally, she must do more. And the beautiful thing about it is, there’s no need to manufacture a special, limited edition, limbless Barbie. There just needs to be a corporate decree that henceforth, all Barbie’s shall be manufactured with limbs that can be easily jettisoned. That way, whoever is playing with a given Barbie on a given day can just mix and match.

Then Barbie will have done her part.

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Former Crippled Poster Kids

Athletes are tragic figures because they’re washed up by age 40. Models are even more tragic because they’re washed up by age 25. Olympic gymnasts and members of boy bands are more tragic still because they’re washed up by age 18. But crippled poster children are the most tragic of all because they’re washed up by age eight.

That’s why I say mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be former crippled poster kids. And the way to do that is to do whatever it takes to not let them become crippled poster kids in the first place. But I know even the greatest parent can’t protect their kids from all the pitfalls of life, so your kid may end up being a crippled poster kid in spite of your best efforts. If that happens to you, the best thing you can do is try to keep them from taking it seriously.

I know what I’m talking about here, because I was once a crippled poster child. With all of the spotlight you get, it’s real easy to get full of yourself. I see this kid who’s currently a poster kid for the Shriners and I fear that what’s happening to him. He puffs out his chest and makes his plea for donations with such dramatic conviction and confidence, as if he was delivering a Shakespearean soliloquy. It’s clear that he has visions of grandeur dancing in his head. He pictures himself 10 or 20 years from now hosting his own television talk show.

Fortunately, I never took my reign as a poster kid seriously. I was never very comfortable with the role so when it was over I was happy to let it go. I spared my mother the trouble of deflating my big head, though I‘m sure she would have if she had to. She was good at that.

I hope this kid has someone to keep him sober like that. Because otherwise he’s bound to end up like a bitter and abandoned child star whose once-hot sitcom got cancelled. Except the fall of a crippled  poster child is more tragic because it isn’t a tale of rags to riches and back to rags. Crippled poster kids don’t get paid squat so there are no riches. It’s just rags.

I hope somebody will give this kid some tough love and remind him that crippled poster kid is a dead-end role. You’re irreversibly type cast.

Otherwise I fear that 10 to 20 years from now we’ll see this kid sitting alone on a subway train, slugging from a bottle in a paper bag and shouting, “And I got all the attention! When I made my pitch for donations, the switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree! So fuck all y’all!”

Poor kid! Someone needs to save him! He’s on a collision course with puberty! 

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Sunday, May 10, 2020

Why I Feel Sorry for Arthritis People

I’m sure glad there isn’t a pill or injection that’s an easy treatment for that which makes me crippled. Because if there was there would probably be a happy-ass commercial about it and I’d really hate that.

That’s why I feel sorry for arthritis people. Apparently there are a lot of pills or injections that are easy treatments for arthritis because I see a lot of happy-ass commercials about that. In the latest commercial there’s a woman remodeling her home by swinging a sledgehammer and knocking holes in walls and there's another woman out in a field taking pictures of a galloping pack of wild horses. Both women are all happy-assed. I guess they are supposed to be people with arthritis who are now feeling so good that they can finally do stuff like swing sledgehammers and photograph wild horses. But none of the arthritis people in these commercials look like they have arthritis any more than the guy next door does. So I guess the implication is that this treatment is so amazing that if you take it, not only will you suddenly feel like you don’t have arthritis but you suddenly won’t look like it either.

Those commercials must make arthritis people feel like if they’re not out there swinging sledgehammers or photographing wild horses they must be some kind of big time loser. I’m sure I’d feel the same way if it was a commercial for a treatment for what makes me crippled. The happy-ass actors probably wouldn’t look any more crippled than the guy next door does and they’d probably be doing stuff like riding wild bulls at a rodeo or rock climbing. And that would drastically change society’s view of who cripples like me are and what we’re capable of doing, which would really suck. Because I’d be under enormous pressure to keep up or get left behind. Cripples like me who weren’t riding wild rodeo bulls or rock climbing would look like lazy freeloaders. That would probably be used as an excuse to cut us off of our public cripple benefits. But if we were out there riding wild rodeo bulls or rock climbing that would probably be used as an excuse to cut us off our public cripple benefits too because if we can do stuff like that then why the hell do we still need public cripple benefits?

It’s a terrible no-win situation and I fear arthritis people will find themselves in it all too soon. I’m sure glad it ain’t me, yet.

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