Friday, October 28, 2011

The Proud and the Domitable

The most annoying cripples of all are those that have an “indomitable spirit.” Jesus are those people irritating.

You know who they are. They’re the ones who enter marathons. I question whether those people can even be considered cripples. Have you seen them? They’ve got arms and torsos like lumberjacks, and those are the women. And their wheelchairs can only be called wheelchairs in the sense that they are chairs with wheels on them. But they’re more like drag racing cars than wheelchairs. The frame is triangular and it takes a parachute shooting out of the back of the chair to bring it to a stop.

The “indomitable” cripples are the ones who climb mountains too. When I see a mountain climbing cripple I want to gather up a posse of plain old rank and file cripples, jump the guy from behind, drag him into the bathroom, stick his head in the toilet and give him a swirly!

When a cripple climbs a mountain or runs in a marathon it isn’t a victimless crime. It makes life harder for the rest of us cripples. Because when they go around being so brazenly indomitable, everybody expects the rest of us cripples to be indomitable too. And that’s fucking exhausting. If you think being indomitable all day is so easy, you try it. You’ll be worn out by noon. These racing/climbing cripples are a threat to my precious, inalienable right to be domitable. There’s nothing I enjoy more than kicking back with a six pack and being domitable.

And these indomitable cripples also threaten my right to be a fuck up. They go out there and bust their asses training because they think they have to prove their excellence because if they don’t excel beyond excelling they’ll ruin it for the rest of the cripples. But they’d serve us better in the long run if they fucked up and did it with pride. It’s just like Jackie Robinson. There was no way he could fuck up playing baseball because if he did there was no way anybody who wasn’t white would be allowed to play major league baseball ever again. But if they banned white people from playing just because the first one to come along wasn’t a superstar, there would never have been any major league baseball in the first place. White ballplayers are allowed to fuck up all the time. Just watch the Cubs and you’ll see. Had Jackie fucked up, history may well have eventually regarded him as even more of a pioneer, a proud symbol of the right of all people of all races and creeds to attempt to do something they might fuck up. Now that’s equal rights.

So a fuck up like me can be a role model too. I can inspire other cripples to just relax and go assert their right to not succeed. But if those brown-nosing indomitable cripples have their way, soon the government will require the rest of us cripples to climb a mountain or run in a marathon every month to earn our Social Security checks. Most cripples are like me when it comes to marathons anyway. If there’s such a thing as a sitting marathon, I would excel at that. The referee fires the starting pistol and everybody sits and the medal goes to the last man sitting. I’d kick ass in a marathon like that because I’ve been training for it since I was a kid. I’ve built myself up to the point where I can outsit anyone! No one can sit on their ass for more consecutive hours than me. Walkies think that’s easy too, sitting on your ass all day. But I’ve heard how walkies whine and whine about sitting too long. After a pissy little two hour plane ride they moan “Oh I’m so sore from sitting so long. I’m so stiiiiiiiiiif.” It makes me laugh. What a bunch of creampuffs! Maybe someday I’ll get a chance to prove no one can outsit Smart Ass Cripple! And I can do it without steroids! My butt cheeks are like the calloused hands of a pipefitter. It comes from years and years of sitting around being domitable.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I am Navigimp

Every vehicle I’ve ever owned has been equipped with a feature known as Navigimp. It’s a sophisticated navigating system that tells the driver exactly where to go. Navigimp has a beard and wears plaid flannel shirts a lot. Navigimp sits in a wheelchair just like mine and it looks just like me.

Long before there was a GPS, there was Navigimp, the human GPS, with his commanding male voice (complete with Chicago accent) telling the person driving my vehicle “turn right, turn left, cut through that alley!”

Navigimp is not infallible. It is prone to succumb to sudden urges to improvise because it’s obsessed with finding new shortcuts. Navigimp can’t help it. That’s how he was raised. Finding a shortcut is like finding a discount. Saving time is like saving money. Discovering a route that gets you there two minutes faster is as gratifying as saving a quarter on a gallon of milk. But sometimes when Navigimp follows the scent of a shortcut, he leads the driver instead into a cul-de-sac or down a one way street in the wrong direction.

That’s probably why Rahnee, without warning, replaced Navigimp with a real GPS. She probably did it to avoid repetitive encounters that test the iron bonds of matrimony, such as the following:

RAHNEE: Turn left here?


Rahnee turns right.

N: No, you were supposed to turn left!

R: You said right!

N: I meant right as in correct!

R: Well then say correct! Now you got us lost!

There are never such disputes with the sober, soulless, ever-professional GPS— your navigation slave.

The day Rahnee plugged in the GPS, Navigimp was plunged into turmoil. He questioned everything about the validity of his past, present and future. He could have seen the new GPS as a blissful gift, an opportunity to gracefully retire and hand over control to a greater power. No longer would he have to feel compelled to always know where he was going and the quickest way to get there. He could just sit back and enjoy the ride.

A mature, secure man would have reacted thusly. But the arrival of the GPS made Navigimp wonder if he was a pathetic control freak. He was insanely jealous of the GPS. Her nasal monotone grated on his raw nerves. He despised the calm precision with which she delivered them to their destination. She had such an air of superiority that Navigimp wanted to fake like he was deathly thirty so Rahnee would detour to a drive-thru and get him a 92-ounce Pepsi mega-gulp and then he could “accidentally” spill it all over the GPS and gum up her prissy little direction-finding guts!

But Navigimp took stock of himself. Why this raging insecurity? He determined it’s because he felt threatened that if this handy, affordable piece of technology could do what he could do and probably even better, then why would Rahnee need him anymore? She might as well dump his sorry ass. It’s the same reason why men are secretly, abjectly threatened by vibrators. Rahnee does all the driving. She loads Navigimp into the vehicle and secures down his wheelchair. All Navigimp does is tell her where to go. Rahnee is Simon and Navigimp is Garfunkel.

Since that day, Navigimp, to his vengeful delight, learned that the GPS is not the perfect princess everybody thinks she is! For instance, she has an irritating habit of not announcing upcoming exits until you’re right on top of them and it’s too late to cut across traffic. Navigimp would never screw up like that. So Navigimp must remain on guard and vigilant so as to spare everyone from the dire consequences of the GPS’s stupid rookie mistakes. But Navigimp knows that someday the GPS will be upgraded, debugged and sold as GPS version 2.0. On that day Navigimp will fake like he’s deathly thirsty.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Stump the Guru

If someone claims to be a guru and you want test them to find out if they really are a guru, play a little game of Stump the Guru. It’s easy to play. Just ask the guru question after question until the guru finally answers with “Hell if I know. “ That’s when you know this guru has passed the test and just might actually be a guru. Anyone wise enough to be a guru has to know that no one knows everything. When they can say “Hell if I know,” it shows that they are truly enlightened.

But that’s not the answer most people want to hear from a guru. When truth-seekers drag themselves all the way up to a mountaintop in Tibet to ask the guru and all they get is a “Hell if I know,” they’ll be pissed and demand their money back. But those people don’t know a great truth when it bites them in the butt. They insist that their gurus be like fortune cookies and have a saying to offer every time they’re cracked open.

That’s why Smart Ass Cripple has always been a crappy crippled guru/role model. When the little criplets and or their parents come unto me seeking guidance through the enchanted land of crippledom, they’re usually disappointed. Usually about the best I can offer up is a shrug and a “Hell if I know.” Even after more than a half century of living in crippledom, there’s only two bits of guidance I can offer:

1) Sooner or later, you’re going to piss off the guy who cleans up messes at the grocery store. Whenever I hear, “Clean up on aisle 12,” I cringe because I know that the frustrated guy rolling the mop bucket will shoot me a dirty look. They always assume that the cripple spazzed out and made the mess. Once I was in a grocery store and somebody knocked over an entire wine display. About a dozen bottles of red wine shattered on the floor. It looked like a fucking bloodbath! And oh man, that pissed off clean up guy shot me a scorcher of a dirty look. Whenever I hear, “Clean up on aisle 12,” I feel like knocking over the nearest jar of mayonnaise. I’ll get blamed anyway so I might as well get my money’s worth.

2) When coming out of an elevator, do the opposite of what any walking person instructs you to do. A weird thing about cripples is we come out of elevators backwards. Most elevators are either too small or too crowded to turn a wheelchair around so we roll straight in but we have to back out. Any walking person coming out of an elevator backwards looks like a moron but for cripples it’s normal. So when a bipedal human says, “When you come out the elevator, turn right,” remember for you that means turn left because everything’s all backwards. Once I really hand to pee so I went into this building and the security guard told me to go to the second floor and turn left to find the bathroom. So I went to the second floor and turned left and I got so lost that I practically ended up in Egypt before I realized how I screwed up.

Those are the only things about crippledom I know for sure.

Well okay, there is one more thing I know for sure.

3) Beware of long tablecloths. I’m talking about those tablecloths that hang down all the way to the floor. Long tablecloths and wheelchairs are mortal enemies because you pull under the table and the cloth gets all tangled in the wheel but you don’t know it so then you back away and it’s like that trick where the magician yanks the tablecloth away and everything stays on the table, except nothing stays on the table. Everything crashes to the floor. And they only have long tablecloths at fancy-ass dinners like testimonials. And it’s especially embarrassing if the testimonial dinner is for you and the emcee says what a fine example of human dignity you are and then you come up to accept your plaque and you bring the tablecloth and everything on the table with you.

Those are for sure the only things about crippledom I know for sure. Besides that, “Hell if I know.”

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Do it on the 3rd*

Even if you don’t know much about cripples, there’s something you’ve probably noticed about us. You’ve probably noticed, because it’s hard not to, that there’s a certain time of the month when we all seem to get giddy. It’s fleeting. It appears to last for only a day or so. You don’t see cripples out on the streets much any other time but then suddenly we’re all over the place. We’re out in swarms and we’re spending all our money and whooping it up and issuing our mating call. And then, just as suddenly, we all disappear and all’s quiet again. You wonder if it’s something like the 17-year cicadas or something. Cripples sure are hard to figure out.

Well you’re very astute to notice because cripples are indeed a spirited people, so spirited that every month we have a high holiday, a day of drunken revelry and feasting. We call this day the 3rd of the month. Some people call it the day when the eagle shits. Whatever you call it, it’s the day when most of our Social Security checks arrive. That’s the day when cripples are flush!

Exhibit A: Bachstein, my college roommate. He was the most broke ass man in the universe because not only did he have cerebral palsy but he was a poet too. He subsisted on canned spaghetti and Cocoa Puffs. When it came time to pay his share of the rent and utilities and groceries, our other roommate, Bill, and I always had to cover him until the 3rd. And then Bachstein came home with a big wad of cash and some whiskey and an extra large pizza. And he squared up with us. And then he was broke. And when it again came time to pay his share of the rent and utilities and groceries we had to cover him again until the 3rd. And then we squared up. And then he was broke.

And if you ever thought you might have noticed that cripples seem giddiest in February, you’re right again! February is our favorite month because it’s the shortest distance between two 3rds. There are only 28 days between February 3rd and March 3rd, so we spend fewer days in a state of broke ass. Cripples hate leap years.

So here’s an important tip: if you want to sell something to a cripple, be sure you do it on the 3rd. If you’re a business owner, you can attract a whole new base of customers by strategically marketing to cripples in this way. Have your Gigantic Blow Out Super Sale on the 3rd. The same applies for swindlers and con artist. It doesn’t matter whether you’re running a Ponzi scheme or posing as an emissary for a wealthy African prince in exile. If you’re looking to put the bite on some cripples, do it on the 3rd.

Whatever it is you’re trying to sell to cripples, the key to success is to remember those magic words: do it on the 3rd. Don’t wait until the 4th. By that time we’re all broke ass.

(*Before you nitpicky cripples write me and split hairs, I know some of you get paid on the 1st or alternating Wednesdays.)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Happy Conception Day

All right that’s it. The right-to-lifers have officially convinced me. I now believe that life begins not at birth but at conception.

So therefore I’m not celebrating my birthday anymore. Instead I’m celebrating my Conception Day and I’m determined to convince everyone else to do the same. Your Conception Day is the day that lucky, one-in-a-million tadpole of sperm sunk its teeth into that egg and refused to let go, like a bulldog with a pork chop. It’s the day your parents did it and it stuck.

As soon as you embrace the idea that life begins at conception, you instantly become nine months older. Because to calculate your Conception Day, you just count back nine months from your birthday, which in my case brings me to September 25, more or less. There’s no way for me to know for sure because my deceased parents were the only ones there at that decisive moment. I assume there are no eyewitness accounts since my parents never struck me as orgy types. And it still kind of creeps me out to even picture my parents being there.

That’s the one drawback with Conception Day. It’s all kind of fuzzy. It’s not as clear cut and irrefutable as your birthday. If you are more fortunate than I and either of your parents is still alive, perhaps they can aid your research. Just ask “Hey mom and (or) dad, what was the date when you did it and it stuck?”

And if we true believers can get Conception Day to catch on, it can provide a real shot in the arm for the economy. Because as any economist will tell you, one of the best ways to create new jobs is to create a new bullshit holiday, like Sweetest Day. This creates jobs for the most chronically unemployed deadbeats of all. Poets. Because Hallmark will release a new line of Happy Conception Day cards and someone will have to come up with the words to express these new sentiments, such as:

Rejoice the day your mother’s egg
Your father fertilized.
And Praise the Lord that in the womb
You were not murder-lized.

These can’t just be dime store poets either because they’ll have a tough job to do. They’ll have to think of a whole bunch of different things that rhyme with zygote. (Thigh bloat? Sly goat? I give up.)

It will take a massive propaganda campaign to enshrine the concept of Conception Day into our culture. (I’m getting a head start by always using upper case when I spell Conception Day.). And nobody can pull off a propaganda campaign better than Hallmark. It’s their entire reason for being. In addition to all the new cards, decorations and party favors, they’ll produce a very special television movie about a brave boy’s quest, against all odds, to determine his Conception Day. It will air after the Super Bowl.

This shift in mentality will lead to better recordkeeping as the children of the future demand to know their Conception Day. Maybe adults will be required by law to keep an official log documenting every time they do it and with whom and register it with the county government in case one of those times sticks.

Then we can call ourselves a civilized society.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Driver Dan and the Pinky Story

A few years back, at the wake of driver Dan, there was an open mic. All were welcome to come up and tell everyone a story about Dan. I looked at Rahnee and she looked at me. We both had the same thought. Should we tell the pinky story?

When our turn came we positioned ourselves in front of Dan’s open casket. I began the story by saying, “One morning I woke up and I said to my wife, ‘My pinky hurts.’” Rahnee took it from there. We went to a holiday party, she said, at the home of cripple comrades Kevin and Karen. Rahnee wanted to take a cab to the party so she wouldn’t have to worry about drinking and driving. So we called Dan.

Dan was the king of the drivers of the cripple cabs. The first Chicago cripple cabs hit the streets in the late 1990s. They’re minivan taxis with ramps and you can just roll right in and ride in your wheelchair. Dan was the first cripple cab driver. Cab driving was the perfect job for Dan because he loved to talk. And he could talk about anything. Strike up a conversation about ancient Egyptian pottery or baseball or organic gardening and Dan knew something about it. Dan should have hosted a radio talk show called Live from the Cripple Cab, interviewing guests and taking calls from listeners while driving.

So Dan drove us to the party. And at the party I drank three Cosmos. I’m at stout-hearted man who can easily handle three Cosmos. But Kevin was doing the mixing and just to be evil he probably made mine double Cosmos and mixed in some rocket fuel too. All I remember after the third Cosmo was seeing double and then rolling down two snowy sidewalks to where two Dans were waiting with their two cripple cabs to drive home me and both Rahnees. After that I remember watching some of “Smokey and the Bandit” on TV at home and then sitting on the crapper. And in the morning I had not a throbbing head but a throbbing pinky.

The part I didn’t remember, Rahnee told the mourners at Dan’s wake, was being so trashed that I couldn’t back my wheelchair out the elevator when we got home. So Rahnee tried to drive my chair. Maybe the joystick was more sensitive than she thought it would be or maybe she wasn’t in much better condition to drive a wheelchair than I was. But the chair bucked like a bronco when she pushed the joystick and she smashed my fingers against the closing elevator door. ”Oh my God!” she said to me. “Are your fingers okay?” I just shrugged and said, “I’m fine.” I could feel no pain!

I ended up with a fractured pinky, I told the mourners, but it could have been a whole lot worse had Dan not been there to get me home safe. And that was the moral of the story. Everyone wants to get home safe. And for us and hundreds of other Chicago cripples, we could always count on Dan to get us home safe.

After the wake, one of the mourners introduced himself to me as Dan’s cousin or some such relative. “That was a helluva story you told,” he said. “You scared me at first because I thought you said you woke up one morning and said to your wife ‘my PEE PEE hurts.’ And I’m wondering what the hell this story has to do with Dan and why are they’re telling it at his wake. And then your wife said she smashed your pee pee in the elevator door! Anyway, when you said you fractured it, it all got cleared up in the end.”

Well good, I said to myself. I’m sure glad I cleared that up.