Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stupid Nanosophobes

There’s one form of cripple phobia I don’t understand at all. It’s nanosophobia, which is fear of dwarfs, or little people, as they’re called.

And make no mistake that we, the statistically average in stature, are mighty scared of little people. Deep down inside, we’re flat out terrified of them. Why else would we be so obsessed with dressing them up like elves and bunnies? It’s our desperate attempt to make them cuddly and thus temper the enormous threat they pose.

But I don’t get it. At least with other cripple phobias, I get where they’re coming from. They’re stupid, but I get where they’re coming from. Like people are afraid of quadriplegics because they see one and it reminds them that at any moment they too could slip on a banana peel and become a quadriplegic. So they’re afraid to be around quadriplegics which is where the stupid part comes in because avoiding quadriplegics does nothing to decrease one’s odds of becoming a quadriplegic. In fact, you’re probably better off getting to know as many quads as you can and finding out if they became quads because of some crazy daredevil shit they did. Then you’ll know not to do that same crazy daredevil shit.

But fear of little people can’t come from that same place, can it? As delirious as this abject fear makes us, surely we all still realize that you can’t slip on a banana peel and shrink. And we’re all aware that little people aren’t contagious, right? You won’t become one if you use a public toilet after one.

So maybe it’s more like homophobia. When a guy raves like Rick Santorum, you just know that there’s a big bawdy drag queen with lavender eyelashes and a cone bra inside of him, clawing at his ribcage trying to bust out. Maybe those of us that are most petrified by the sight of little people have a secret burning desire to be a whole lot shorter. But we dare not express it, lest we be shunned by our families and friends.

But that can’t be it. I bet it’s those damn seven dwarfs. They make us all think that little people are so shallow that the entire spectrum of their humanity can be captured in seven personality types. They’re all either sleepy, happy, grumpy, dopey, sneezy or bashful. Or they’re doctors. And they all sleep in the same bed under one enormous blanket. To accurately represent the diversity among little people, Snow White would have to be followed around by about 3.5 million dwarfs. Oh sure, some would be sleepy or dopey, but others would be alert or brilliant or didactic or bemused or pushy or depressed or sarcastic or generous or vindictive or whatever. They would be bank presidents and single moms and acrobats and violinists and fry cooks and drug pushers and so on. But everyone’s been so brainwashed by those damn seven dwarfs.

I don’t know. I don’t get it. I guess I never will. When we of the vertically-acceptable majority are so unabashedly vertocentric, it reflects a deep insecurity on our part. We’re determined not to give up our tallness without a fight.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Freak Show Reject

I know for sure that if I was born way way way way way back when, I would have joined the freak show. Or maybe I should say, I would have submitted a job application to join the freak show. But I might not have gotten the job.

But I definitely would have tried because if there’s one thing I can’t stand it's being broke ass. And way way way way way back when, about the only hope cripples had for not being broke ass was to join the freak show, especially the big time freaky-looking cripples like conjoined twins or somebody who’s just a head and a torso. Nowadays, of course, societal perspectives have changed and job opportunities for cripples have dramatically improved. The sky’s the limit. Somebody who’s just a head and a torso can be a Fortune 500 CEO, if he/she has the gumption. There’s no reason why conjoined twins can’t be president of the United States, except that there may first have to be an amendment to the Constitution. Conjoined twins could even run against each other for president. Wouldn’t that make for a helluva debate?

I know a lot of cripples consider being a freak show freak to be like prostitution. But way way way way way back when, cripples could only choose between life paths of being a freak show freak or a broke ass freak. Either way you’re still a freak, I figure, so you might as well cash in. Hell, they say that General Tom Thumb in P.T. Barnum’s circus did pretty damn well for himself.

But what special talents might I have listed on my freak show job application? Well, I can play a little harmonica and or kazoo. I can tell a pretty good dirty joke. Some people find it amusing when I run over a sheet of bubble wrap with my motorized wheelchair and it pops like a string of firecrackers. And I imagine applying for a freak show job is a lot like applying for an acting role. You probably have to include a headshot so the bosses know if you’re freaky-looking enough for them to even call you in for an interview.

All that considered, I fear my application would have been promptly rubber stamped REJECT. Because I would have been up against much more highly-qualified candidates who could bring in much fatter profits for the bosses. I mean, who are people going to pay bigger money to watch play harmonica and or kazoo— conjoined twins or me? And dirty jokes are automatically much dirtier and thus much funnier when delivered by somebody who’s just a head and a torso. And way way way way way back when, bubble wrap was yet to be invented.

Maybe if I was really really persistent, I could have been a freak show understudy. But I doubt it. On the freak flavor wheel, I’m pretty vanilla. I'm a ho-hum moderate. I'm the Al Gore of freaks. Way way way way way back when, I would have been condemned to a life of being broke ass.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Condoleezza’s Homemade Nose

Within the wonderfully motley parade of cripples that were my classmates at the Chicago Public elementary school for crippled kids, the one who stands out most in my mind is Condoleeza (Smart Ass Cripple alias).

I think about her often and I wonder if she ever got a nose. She literally didn’t have a nose. Apparently that’s why they sent her to the cripple school because there was really nothing else crippled about her. She talked like someone with a stuffed nose, but besides that she could walk and run and jump double dutch like any other kid.

Condoleeza had a fake nose. She was copper-skinned African American and her fake nose was several shades darker. I don’t know who made her fake nose for her. It looked like it was fashioned out of clay or hard rubber like a hockey puck. It sort of looked like a nose, being a vaguely wedge-shaped mound with two nostrils bored into the bottom. Since it was only attached with glue, often Condoleezza’s nose fell off and bounced to the floor, sometimes out of the blue like right in the middle of lunch. She’d retrieve it and run off to the school nurse to have it glued back on.

I give Condoleeza credit. She didn’t let fear of losing her nose stop her from wrestling around and jumping into the double dutch. But of course when her nose came off during fun and games like that, all we dumbass other kids freaked out and scattered, like when there’s a turd in the swimming pool. So sometimes the school attendants, in their white uniforms, made Condoleeza sit off to the side with the kids who weren’t allowed to play rough at recess, like the bleeders and the brittle bones kids. They played checkers and boring stuff like that.

Condoleezza’s homemade nose was a symbol of the economic inequality in America. She lived in a rundown public housing project high rise, in a land forsaken by rhinoplasty. No doubt if she was born in Beverly Hills, she never would have been banished to the cripple school. There would have been an all points bulletin to be on the lookout for a cadaver with just the right skin tone to serve as her nose transplant donor. At the very least, she would have had an amazingly lifelike prosthetic firmly welded into place.

But not poor Condoleeza.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Squeegee Corps

Everybody knows the upcoming election is all about jobs, which really sucks. It ought to be all about free beer. If the candidates were promising free beer, nobody would give a crap about jobs.

But it’s interesting to examine the innovative plans both parties propose for putting cripples to work. The democrats call for creating jobs within the public sector, jobs specially designed to be easy for cripples to do.

Here’s an example: the job title is License Plate Checker. A whole slew of cripples are hired to examine vanity license plates before they’re issued to make sure there’s no profanity in them. This is accomplished by creating a new department within the FBI charged with investigating vanity license plates and rooting out subtly spelled dirty words, double entendre, etc. We must protect the children. This new department would be almost exclusively staffed by cripples, who examine the plates forward and backward, upside down, in rearview mirrors, etc. This work is suited well for cripples not only because it is sedentary but because cripples have very dirty minds. We can match wits with all the smart ass perverts out there trying to beat the system and sneak one past. We can crack their code.

The democrats also want to create a new public service entity like AmeriCorps but it would be exclusively for cripples. It’s called the Squeegee Corps. Teams of cripples armed with squeegees are dispatched to street corners across this great land to squeegee the windshields of those stopped at traffic lights. The pay is minimum wage but the real rewards of public service work are the intangibles.

The republicans, of course, disagree vehemently with this big-government approach to job creation. Their plan emphasizes private initiative and entrepreneurship. With that in mind, their plan retains the squeegee approach except a privately-owned squeegee manufacturer receives a massive tax break and a $5 billion contract to administer the program. This fits in perfectly with the republican vision for the future of America because, as luck would have it, the world’s leading manufacturer of squeegees is Haliburton. They control 93 per cent of the global squeegee market. Each American cripple is issued a squeegee. The cripples also receive an incentive to go out and use the squeegee to make money. All of their Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare is cut off. The squeegee cripples receive no wage. They only work for tips. But as yet another incentive, drivers can write whatever tips they give squeegee cripples off of their income taxes. Just be sure to get a receipt.

No matter what plan prevails, I’ll participate in the federal government’s effort to get cripples into the workforce. I won’t have much fucking choice, since nobody’s proposing free beer. Until the day when beer is free, I have to keep working.

I plan to get a small business loan to develop a voiceover business. This has long been my dream. My voiceovers are highly specialized and address a small but potentially lucrative market niche. I do impressions of famous actors saying no more than a select few words. This is invaluable when dubbing movies to sanitize then for television. So for instance, my best impression is Jack Nicholson saying “fudge.” Splice that in, and Jack’s salty dialogue transforms into “fudge you” or “go fudge yourself.” I also do a great Al Pacino screaming at the top of his lungs “kiss my adenoid!” And when I say “son of a beaver” like Denzel, you’d swear he was in the room.

I hope to use the small business loan to help me perfect my Meryl Streep.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Brad Pitt Brain Tumor

Maureen was complaining about her brain tumor. She had the damn thing removed 21 years ago, but she still has bad spells of vertigo. Sometimes her equilibrium dips and dives like a roller coaster ride.

It’s not supposed to be that way, dammit! Her doctor agrees. There’s no medical explanation for her vertigo, he says. He says somebody ought to make a case study out of her, but nobody’s putting much research money into her kind of brain tumor these days.

And that’s what Maureen complains about. You can’t build a good marketing campaign around a brain tumor like hers. It isn’t sexy enough. Hell, people can’t even pronounce it, let alone organize a bowl-a-thon to cure it. Her brain tumor is a Choroid Plexus Papilloma in the Fourth Ventricle. You don’t need an MBA to know that’s not a very catchy brand name. You can’t even form it into an easy-to-remember acronym, like AIDS. CPPFV? What the hell does that spell?

What her brain tumor needs, Maureen says, is someone like Christopher Reeve. When Christopher Reeve became a quad, oh baby, there was a tsunami of research money for quads. But Maureen’s brain tumor is an unmapped, uncharted, unclaimed publicity wilderness. No celebrity has stuck his or her flag in it, so to speak.

In Maureen’s fantasy, a hot celebrity gets her brain tumor; someone like Brad Pitt. No harm intended. This is a fantasy, so Brad Pitt quickly gets rid of his CPPFV in a holistic, noninvasive fashion. Like maybe he meditates it away or sings it away. And then he gets a brief period of vertigo, just long enough to get the attention of Congress. Because if Congress sees Brad Pitt stumbling around like Maureen stumbles around sometimes, there will be a volcano of research money for CPPFVers.

And then Brad Pitt and Maureen are cured and everybody lives happily ever after. Everybody except Brad Pitt. Because when you’re a celebrity and you get some kind of crippling condition, you may well become synonymous with that crippling condition whether you like it or not. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Christopher Reeve? It ain’t Superman. The crippling condition might even get named after you, like poor Lou Gehrig. Lou Gehrig got screwed all the way around on that proposition. If it happened today, at least he could retain a good copyright lawyer to get him a deal where he gets a nickel or something every time someone says Lou Gehrig’s disease.

CPPFV would become known as the Brad Pitt Brain Tumor, which would suck big time for Brad Pitt. He’d be the Christopher Reeve of brain tumors. Everyone would associate him with brain tumors rather than with his unforgettable movie roles, whatever they are.

That’s why celebrities fear having diseases named after them. It’s a bad career move, unless they’re trying to make a comeback and any publicity will do. The only people who enjoy having diseases named after them are doctors and researchers. For them it’s a big wet dream to have a colon polyp bearing their name, which shows what sickos they are.

Maureen doesn’t put much faith in the possibility of corporate naming rights coming to her rescue either. Wouldn’t it be heavenly if some corporation like Anheuser-Busch ponied up $25 million so CPPFV would be the Budweiser Brain Tumor? That could potentially pack the same marketing wallop as Brad Pitt. But who wants their product to remind people of brain tumors?

So Maureen just hangs on tight, riding her roller coaster.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Free Parking Martyrs

Sometimes in life, we forget our roots. We take all the wonderful rights and freedoms we enjoy for granted and we forget about the sacrifices of those who made those rights and freedoms possible.

Take me, for example. As a modern cripple, I have enjoyed a whole lot of free parking for many years. If you have cripple license plates on your car, you usually don’t have to pay for parking at meters.

It’s a sweet gig I tell you. But free parking didn’t just falleth from the sky. Many of my crippled ancestors put their asses on the line so that future generations like me could save a shitload of money on parking. And some of them paid the ultimate price.

It was the 1940s, when most cripples were locked away in sanatoriums, out of sight and out of mind. But four cripples who lived in the same institution were fed up and restless and decided to take action. They wrote a manifesto, which said, “We will no longer tolerate being treated as second class citizens. We will no longer resign ourselves to a future without prospects for education, employment or self-determination. We as cripples must throw off the yoke of oppression and drink from the fountain of justice! Therefore, we demand free parking!”

These were cripples who didn’t even have cars but yet they yearned for free parking. That’s how visionary they were! The manifesto spread like wildfire and soon justice-starved cripples from far and wide demanded free parking too. This groundswell resulted in an historic march, where thousands of cripples took to the streets and converged on the state capitol. But they were met by National Guard troops in full riot gear. Tempers flared. One of the agitated cripples hurled an object in the direction of the police and the clash escalated into what has become known as the infamous free parking riots.

The hurled object was later revealed to be a flaming bag of poop. And the fact that it splattered all over a nearby Mercedes, causing the incensed owner to go through a car wash three times, turned public opinion against the cripples. The four leaders of the march insisted that the poop bomb was the work of an infiltrating provocateur, who allegedly fled the scene on foot. But a jury found each of the four leaders guilty of conduct unbecoming of a cripple, which was a capital offense.

At midnight on November 2, 1947, the four cripples were escorted to the gallows before a jeering crowd. Nooses were tightened around their necks. In an act of final defiance, the four cripples chanted FREE PARKING FOREVER, as their wheelchairs were yanked out from under them.

So whenever I whistle merrily past an expired parking meter, I try to remember to pause and pay silent tribute to my dear brethren, the Free Parking Martyrs. I can’t imagine how empty my life would be if it hadn't been for them. Being crippled really sucks sometimes, but at least I get free parking.