Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Hope Ernie Banks Won’t be Too Pissed if He Ever Finds Out I’m Not Dead

Okay so I have this old black and white glossy of Ernie Banks and me. I’m about 10 years old. The other kids in wheelchairs in the picture are my sister and this random crippled kid whom we never saw again. We’re on Waveland Avenue, right outside the left field bleachers of Wrigley Field. Ernie stands behind us, grinning, dressed in his Cubs uniform.

But nowadays I’m suspicious. Because I wonder who arranged this photo op and how they pulled it off. One thing I know for sure is there’s no way I ever would’ve met Ernie Banks that day if I wasn’t crippled. If Ernie Banks was to come out in full uniform just before a game to meet some kids, I’m sure he insisted that those kids better at least be crippled. Who could blame him? He was a hot shit ballplayer in his prime. Every kid wanted to meet him. His handlers had to have some sort of triage.

But being a mere crippled kid, or even three mere crippled kids, probably wasn’t enough to close the deal with Ernie either. So I wonder if someone sweetened the pot by telling Ernie we were crippled kids who were going to die soon. Whoever told him that might not have been intentionally lying. They might’ve believed it. Every cripple I’ve ever met who was crippled as a child had some doctor or someone say they wouldn’t live to see 10. Even if all the crippled they were was slightly hard of hearing in one ear, some doctor said they wouldn’t live to see 10.

And if somebody told Ernie Banks that meeting him would fulfill my life’s dream, they lied to him about that too. Another thing I know for sure is if I really had been a Make-A-Wish kid, I would have been a fucking terror. I would’ve milked it for every last damn thing I could get. I’d demand to meet the whole Cubs team and to watch the game from the dugout. And I’d pout until they let me pinch hit. And then I’d say “And tomorrow I wanna meet all the Chicago Bears and I wanna play linebacker and I wanna….” I’d push and push until the Make-A-Wish people told me to piss off.

Ernie would probably feel like a sucker if he knew I’m still alive. (And to really rub it in, my sister is still alive too!) It’s like that time I was out with a walkie friend. She was pushing an empty wheelchair. After a few blocks she sat in the chair and held on to my power chair and I pulled her along. We approached a building. An eager pedestrian jumped up to hold the door open for us. My friend tried to tell him it wasn’t necessary but the pedestrian insisted. My friend had trouble pushing the chair through the doorway so she stood and pulled the wheelchair through. I’ll never forget that pedestrian’s searing look of betrayal. You could tell he was flogging himself for wasting his charity on a fake cripple. He would never fall for that cripple sympathy bit ever again.

If Ernie feels similarly duped, he might feel soothed if he considers the fact that, technically, nobody deceived him. Because, in some sense, we’re all dying, aren’t we? Metaphorically, at least?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Smart Ass Cripple Versus Disneyland

Every year at this time, right around the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, you hear people carping about how after all these years the unemployment rate among cripples is still ridiculously high.

Just the other day I saw something in the newspaper about how crippled unemployment was 14.8 percent last year compared to 9.4 percent for everybody else. “Cripples have a hard time getting jobs?” I says to myself. “I could’ve told you that. I thought this was a NEWSpaper!” Hell, the crippled unemployment rate would probably be 99.999999999999999999999 percent if they didn’t count fucking store greeters.

Corporate America doesn’t have the balls to hire cripples. We’re too messy and complicated. Corporate America is too tight ass.

I’ll prove it. Ask yourself this: How many cripples in America could get a job being Mickey Mouse?

Answer: A big fat fucking zero!

Think about it. It’s probably a sweet gig bouncing around Disneyland and making public appearances all over the world dressed up as Mickey Mouse. I’m sure it’s great pay, health and dental insurance, a 401(k), the works. And being Mickey Mouse is probably a babe magnet too. What do you do for a living? Wouldn’t you rather be Mickey Mouse? Wouldn’t you have more money and sex?

But do you think Disney is going to hire a cripple to be Mickey Mouse? Ha! Mickey Mouse in a wheelchair or tapping around with a white cane? Are you insane? It wouldn’t matter whether a cripple could do the job or not. How hard can it be to be Mickey Mouse? All you have to do is wave and hug and pose for photos. Anybody can do that.

But if Mickey Mouse is crippled, children will ask questions like, “Mommy, what happened to Mickey Mouse? Why does he have a seeing-eye dog?” And Mommy will have to answer, “Well, Susie, Mickey Mouse has a genetic disorder known as retinitis pigmentosa, which means…” And then you’ve ruined their whole fucking vacation!

So there’s no way in hell Disney will take that kind of leap. They’ll say children come to Disneyland to have fun, not to be plunged into an existential crisis. But that’s just a bullshit excuse because every kid is going to have an existential crisis sooner or later. What better creature is there to break it to them softly than Mickey Mouse?

Hold on! I think I’ve just found a calling. Oh yeah, I’m going to do something useful to advance the cause of my fellow cripples by applying for a job being Mickey Mouse. I’m sure I’ll get an interview. I can wave and hug and pose for photos like a house on fire. I sure as hell am nurturing and I’m also a role model for children throughout the world. But when I show up for the interview in my motorized wheelchair, the Disney director of human resources will shit a gold brick (discreetly of course, so as not to provide evidence for a potential discrimination lawsuit).

When I’m turned down I’ll sue: Smart Ass Cripple versus Disneyland. It may go all the way to the Supreme Court.

But whether I win or lose I won’t give up until I shatter that glass ceiling. I will not rest until I’m Mickey Mouse.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ask Smart Ass Cripple Again?

Dear Mr. Cripple,

I find your blog occasionally amusing so I am considering leaving a donation in your tip jar. But first I must know if my generosity is deductible. Is the Feed Smart Ass Cripple Fund an official 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable entity? Please advise so I can instruct my accountants accordingly.

Ultrasincerely yours,

A Concerned Liberal

Dear Concerned Liberal,

Absolutely! I personally traveled to Washington to petition the Supreme Council of Exemptors. It was a weird experience. The council was three hairless, scowling heads on pedestals on the stage of a dark auditorium. An eerie blue fog wafted about. Each head was illuminated from above by its own spotlight.

The first head roared like the Great Oz: “Who dares to come before us seeking exemption?”

I said, “It’s the Feed Smart Ass Cripple Fund.”

The second head spoke in a female voice. “And just what is the mission of this Feed Smart Ass Cripple Fund?”

I said, “The mission of the Feed Smart Ass Cripple Fund is to feed Smart Ass Cripple. The excessively brilliant and generous readers of Smart Ass Cripple put money in the tip jar, with which Smart Ass Cripple acquires basic staples such as bread and sugar and beer and butter and beer and cigars and beer.”

The third head sounded like Arnold Schwarzenegger: “And who are you, sir?”

I said, “Who the hell do you think I am? I’m Smart Ass Cripple. Why else would I start a lame ass charity like this?”

Back to the first head: “What is your occupation, Mr. Smart Ass Cripple?”

I said, “I make fun of people like you.”

A black velvet curtain dropped. Behind it the omnipotent exemptors deliberated my fate. But after only two minutes the curtain lifted and all the heads smiled. “Congratulations,” said the first head. “You have been granted an exemption. And on behalf of this council, I wish you Godspeed.”

So feel free to give til it hurts to the Feed Smart Ass Cripple Fund! That goes for all of you out there!

Dear Smart Ass Cripple,

Being rather modest people, when I checked into a hotel on a recent trip, I said to the lady at the registration desk, "I hope the porn channel in our room is disabled."

To which she replied, "No, it's regular porn, you sick bastards!"

Yours in Shame,

Sue’s Embarrassed Aunt Judy

Dear Sue’s Embarrassed Aunt Judy,

Don’t be embarrassed. Those people are HYPOCRITES! They’re just like those homophobes who are completely repulsed by the idea of witnessing two women getting married but secretly are completely turned on by the idea of witnessing those two women on the first night of their honeymoon.

I guarantee you that the minute those innkeepers put up the NO VACANCY sign, they retire to their quarters and watch cripple porn. Here’s how the movie goes: A knock on the door. A woman in a negligee and curlers answers. It’s the one-armed, spastic, three-foot tall pizza delivery man.

PIZZA MAN: Did someone order a pizza?

WOMAN: I ordered a SAUSAGE pizza!

I won’t tell you what happens after that. I don’t want to spoil the plot.

Dear Smart Ass Cripple,

As a loving parent, responsible adult and mentor for successive generations, I’ve been trying to teach my 11 year old son about diversity and inclusion values (per the judge’s order. Long back story, involving a bad morning at the mall, alleged “community standards,” and a security guard who apparently has absolutely no sense of humor about his job).

I’ve been using your blog as a conversation starter, since you both seem to be the same age emotionally.

My son says: “Who the hell is this guy? Why should I listen to him? I’ll know he’s important when he has his own reality TV show, or action-figure merchandise. Until then, he can piss off.”

The stupid kid has a point. Since I’m not wild about most people anyway, it seems sort of hypocritical to worry about being diverse and inclusive, when all I really want to do tell folks to get stuffed.

With seething regards,

A Role Model for Tomorrow’s Youth and a Fine American


Your little smart ass is correct. I do not have a reality show or action figure line. But soon I will launch my very own designer fragrance. That’s right, eu de Smart Ass Cripple cologne (lovingly manufactured in a kindergarten in Bangladesh) premieres in August and will be sold exclusively at the finest Walmarts. Shortly after that, the new Smart Ass Cripple PEZ dispenser will make its debut. Yep, the PEZ people offered me a barrel of cash for the rights to make a cheap plastic mold of my head and mount it on a hinge atop a PEZ box.

And if that’s not enough for the little whiner, tell him that in 2012, the navy will christen its newest state of the art battleship, the USS Smart Ass Cripple! It’s named after me because it’s the navy’s most badass battleship to date. It’s guaranteed to blow out of the water all those Al Qaeda and Taliban battleships!

It’s natural for children your son’s age to question authority. So tell him to shut the hell up and respect his fucking elders.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dave Boffo’s Existential Hell

Sebastian jumped into the driver’s seat of my adapted cripple van.
“Let’s get out of here before the police show up!” he said. He stepped on the gas and we sped away.

A few minutes earlier, Sebastian had accidentally locked me in my van with the keys inside for about the fifth time. He never meant to do it. He was just spacey about that sort of thing. And every time he locked me in I said to myself: Welcome to Dave Boffo’s Existential Hell!

Boffo was a great cripple buddy from the 1970s. One night a bunch of us went out drinking. Danny Martin gave Boffo a ride home. Martin lifted Boffo into the front seat of his car, folded his wheelchair and tossed it in the back seat. Martin stopped at Dunkin,’ Donuts because he had a late night craving. Martin got back in the car and choked on the donut. And he kept choking and Boffo freaked because couldn’t just jump up and give Martin the Heimlich or anything like that. Boffo couldn’t even move his arms. So this is what went through Boffo’s head as he watched Martin choke:

“Oh great! This is just fucking great! So this is how it ends. Martin turns blue and falls over dead on my lap. And I can’t even lift my fucking arms and this place is open 24 hours so nobody will even notice that a car has been parked here for weeks and no one will find us until they smell something funny and trace it back to this car and find us both decomposing! Listen here, God, if you insist on Martin dying by choking on a Dunkin’ Donut, at least make him fall forward so he lands on the horn!”

I have found myself trapped in Dave Boffo’s Existential Hell more than once whilst sitting on the crapper. The guy puts me on the bowl. “Call me when you’re finished,” he says. He closes the bathroom door and leaves me alone with my magazine. He waits on the living room couch. And after about 10 minutes I call. No response. And I call. And I caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal! No response.

So this is what goes through my head:

“Oh great! This is just fucking great! So this is how it ends. He’s asleep on the couch. He might not wake up til Tuesday! Or maybe he won’t wake up at all. Maybe he sat down on the couch and popped an aneurysm! And no one will find us until they smell something funny and……. etc.”

Sometimes when we’re out driving in my current adapted cripple van Rahnee will say “I need to run into the store real quick for (fill in the blank).” I’m in the parking lot alone in the van and my wheelchair is bolted down in the safety lock and I can’t move my arms enough to unlock the door either. And I should know better than to panic when Rahnee doesn’t come back right away because when she says she’s running into the store real quick for (fill in the blank) she never returns with just (fill in the blank). But after about 10 minutes, this is what goes through my head:

“Oh great! This is just fucking great! So this is how it ends. She probably went to the dog food aisle and popped an aneurysm! And no one will find me until they smell something funny and……. etc.”

Once when Sebastian locked me in the van, he set out on foot seeking help. I was plummeting through Dave Boffo’s Existential Hell, convinced something would happen and he’d never return, when suddenly he appeared with a stranger who had his own slim jim and they freed me.

The time Sebastian jumped into the driver’s seat and said, “Let’s get out of here before the police show up!” he had locked in not just me but also Anna, my late first wife. Sebastian set out on foot seeking help. I guess he couldn’t find a stranger with a slim jim so at a loss for what else to do he called 911. “I locked a man in a wheelchair in a van!” He told the dispatcher. “Yeah,” he said. “And I’ve done it before! Many times! All over the city! And this time I locked in two people in wheelchairs” The dispatcher said she’d send the police right away and as soon as he hung up, Sebastian realized he must have sounded like some bizarre mass murderer ready to turn himself in and lead police to all the shallow graves. But instead he would lead them to abandoned adapted cripple vans all over the city and inside would be skeletons in wheelchairs.

Meanwhile, Anna wiggled around enough to unlock a door. So Sebastian jumped in and we sped away. Imagine the frustration of the police to discover the sick psychopath escaped. And to this day he’s still at large.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Groom of the Speaker’s Stool

Even I, holder of an advanced degree in scatology, have learned something new about shit and the role it has played in shaping our civilization. In response to something I wrote a few weeks back about the many people who have cleaned up my personal shit, an exceedingly astute reader of Smart Ass Cripple (which is redundant to say) sent me information about the Groom of the Stool.

I checked it out and learned that English monarchs once bestowed that title upon the trusted bathroom servant who cleaned up their shit. Whenever his majesty felt moved, the Groom of the Stool prepared and emptied the chamber pot and even helped the king wipe his nether region with a scrap of flannel. The groom was considered to be a most prestigious servant position. He was sort of the chief of staff of servants. Only the most discreet, trustworthy courtier was given this honor. One can see why. The Groom of the Stool was privy to exclusive gossip about the king that could be rich fodder for blackmail or satire—such as the musical pitch of his highness’s farts or his splatter patterns.

The day after learning about the Groom of the Stool, I found myself outside the country club where John Boehner is a member. It’s called Wetherington. It’s a gray castle one the hill in the gated community of the same name where Boehner lives just north of Cincinnati. But there was no one in the guard's booth and the gates were wide open so we drove right in. What’s the point of living in a gated community if you can’t even keep out dregs like me?

I was with a bunch of cripple activists protesting Boehner’s passionate desire to cut $770 billion from Medicaid. The day before, we leafleted outside his church as his fellow parishioners emerged, until someone called the cops. On this day we took pictures of ourselves with protest signs, the country club looming in the background. Overstuffed white people whizzed by on golf carts. Someone again called the cops. We left.

Boehner will probably get his way and yank the rug out from under the poorest poor people. But as I watched Wetherington slowly implode away in the rearview, I was sustained by the hope that if we all apply enough pressure and take to the streets from coast to coast, maybe we can convince Boehner to give at least one poor person a break by creating a new position on his staff: Groom of the Speaker’s Stool. It’s true that such a post would be symbolic busywork in this age of flush toilets. But the name of the game today is job creation, isn’t it? In Boehner’s brave new world, the perfect job for a poor person is cleaning up the shit of the country clubbers.

Of course, being a good capitalist, the Speaker may well conclude that he shouldn’t pay someone to groom his stool when there are plenty who can be compelled do it for free. So maybe some welfare person will have to dab his netherland with a powder puff until it smells like petunias, in exchange for Social Security and food stamps.

Or better yet, how about prisoner work release? In the Speaker’s privy chamber, guards armed with taser guns unshackle a man in an orange jumpsuit. The speaker rises from his throne, turns and bends forward. The guard hands the prisoner a goblet filled with a delicate mixture of rose water infused with aloe vera and dove tears. The prisoner takes a mouthful and sloshes it. The prisoner drops to his knees and spits. The human bidet!

Having a prestigious job like Groom of the Speaker’s Stool will give some poor person a real sense of self-worth. Or at least it will give them a real sense of what they’re worth to Boehner.