Friday, April 8, 2011

Deep, Dark Aversions

When you’ve been a cripple as long as I have, you’ve been subjected to many indignities, which lead you to develop deep, dark aversions. Like I can remember the day when you couldn’t find a sippy cup that wasn’t embarrassing.

Sippy cups have always been a great piece of cheap assistive technology for cripples. If you want to drink a rum and coke, for instance, it’s good to drink it out of a sippy cup, especially if you’re the kind of cripple that’s prone to spilling, like a quadriplegic with no grip or a spastic. You get the most out of your rum and coke if you drink it out of the sippy cup because it practically takes an earthquake to spill it.

But way back when, the sippy cup manufacturers thought their product was only for children so no matter how hard a grown-up cripple tried, you couldn’t find a sippy cup without Winnie the Fucking Pooh or My Little Goddam Pony on it. So in those dark days, if you wanted to fully enjoy a rum and coke, you had to risk ridicule.

But then Ronald Reagan was elected and everyone started running their asses off. The demand for sippy cups exploded. Joggers wanted sippy cups. People who work out wanted sippy cups. Even ordinary people who were now running their asses off from job to job wanted sippy cups. So the sippy cup industry responded and now there are an endless variety of adult sippy cups on the market. This generation of cripples can now get shitfaced with dignity.

But I can’t get over my aversion to juvenile sippy cups. Seeing one is a stark reminder of how things used to be. Powdered eggs are another aversion. Whenever I encounter or even think about powdered eggs, I’m immediately ripped back in time to my days as an adolescent in the state-operated cripple boarding school. Nothing evokes that unsettling memory more than powdered eggs, the staple of institutional cuisine. Every cripple who’s been stuck in a nursing home or some such place knows what I’m talking about. Every goddam morning you lift the lid off your breakfast plate and there they are again—powdered eggs, so cold and green.

Another aversion is sports mascots. I hate sports mascots like some people hate clowns. Don’t get me wrong, I for sure hate clowns. They’ve scarred me too. They remind me of those clown-infested, do-gooder parties for crippled children I attended as a kid. The clowns immediately swarmed you, blew up long balloons and twisted them into poodle sculptures for you to take home as a souvenir. I have an aversion to balloon poodles too. But sports mascots are as obnoxious as clowns multiplied by 5 million. A sports mascot can spot a cripple in a crowd of 80,000 like a soaring eagle can spot a fish in the ocean below. And the mascot pounces, leaping onto the cripple’s lap and planting a sloppy wet kiss. Sports mascots seem to think their calling in life is to cheer up all the cripples. I’ve has this recurring dream where I’m kicking the living crap out of that mascot with the enormous baseball for a head. And then I wake up and realize it was just a beautiful dream.

But my deepest aversion is plaid blankets. Plaid blankets are invalid blankets. The forlorn invalid always sits silent in a clunky, oversized wheelchair, a blanket wrapped around his legs. And the blanket is always a muted plaid. Plaid rhymes with sad. Even if it’s 85 degrees, the invalid’s legs are always wrapped in the invalid blanket. So don’t even think about trying to wrap a plaid blanket around my legs or I’ll break your neck. I don’t care if it’s 500 below zero and the consequence of not wrapping my legs in a plaid blanket will be frostbite and amputation. Stay the hell away from me with your plaid blankets. I’m not an invalid.

I know I should get over it. I should suck it up like I did in the old days when I drank my rum and coke out of a happy-ass sippy cup, public opinion be damned. I should do like we all do on those days when it’s so damn cold that we finally break down and wear that really warm hat that looks incredibly dopey—a stocking cap with dancing snowmen and a fuzzy pompon on top. Why do real warm hats always look embarrassingly dopey? Are the people who make them getting their sadistic jollies?

I know I’m a mess, being a prisoner of all my debilitating aversions. But give me a break. I’ve been crippled for a long, long time. It’s brutal