Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I hate when people say I have a disease. To me the diseased are people who have stuff like bubonic plague. That ain’t me. Please don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against people who have bubonic plague (so don't leave me indignant comments). I’m sure the vast majority of them are fine, hard-working, loyal, patriotic citizens. Like all the rest of us, they raise families, pay taxes and perform community service, when they’re not coughing up blood. But that ain’t me. If I had bubonic plague, I wouldn’t be ashamed to acknowledge it. But I don’t.

Condition. I don’t like when people say I have a condition either. Condition. That word’s too heavy.If you have a condition it sounds like you are or should be hospitalized. “His condition is listed as serious.” My condition would have to be listed as absurd.

Syndrome? That word confuses me. I don’t know when a disease or condition becomes a syndrome. Cripples started having syndromes just within the last few decades or so. Remember the Mongoloids? They didn’t get cured. They’re all still here. But now they have Down Syndrome.

Situation? Someone actually asked me that once. “So, what’s your uh… situation? “ I suppose that’s a better word than disease. “That poor guy has Lou Gehrig’s Situation.”

Quirk? Nobody has ever asked me what my quirk is. But I guess that word applies to me more than disease does. I’m crippled because of what could be called a genetic quirk. And a genetic quirk is way different from a disease, dammit! Nobody says, “Hey look at those two over there. They’ve got conjoined twins disease. “

Abnormality? Malady? Defect? Defecit?


Disorder? That’s the word I like. Disorder. Some cripples hate that word but not me. I think it best expresses what cripples are all about. Cripples are disorderly. We’re a great big monkey wrench. We gum up the works. We fuck up the grand  plans. Just when rational humans  think they’ve  finally  got everything all figured out and everybody all neatly groomed and shaped and ordered and categorized, here come those surrealistic cripples to blow it all to hell.

Being crippled makes you subversive, whether you like it or not. You don’t fit. The more crippled you are the more disorderly you are. Your perpetually discombobulated existence discombobulates the intricate combobulation. 

 And that’s what I love most about being crippled.

Someday I’ll probably be arrested, just for being crippled. I’ll be charged with disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace.Or maybe with possession of a disease

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Fabulous Flying Commode

Sometimes slogging through life as a cripple can be so disheartening that I just want to give up.

I felt one such dark moment of resignation recently in an airport bathroom. I had to piss. There was only one cripple stall and of course, as is always the fucking case, the door was locked and there were two feet inside the stall. And the feet were pointed away from the bowl, which meant that the person attached to those feet was settled in. He wasn’t just taking a quick piss. He wouldn’t be in there pissing with his back to the bowl. And if he was in there pissing with his back to the bowl, that would be even more disheartening.

When I see two perfectly good feet in a cripple stall, especially when they’re pointed away from the bowl, I feel a great sense of futility. I wouldn’t even mind if all I saw was a single foot in the stall or one shoe and one cast or two feet wearing goofy-looking, corrective cripple shoes. But when I see two perfectly good feet in perfectly fine shoes, I say to myself “What’s the point in going on?” I mean, even after all these years, some people don’t know or care enough to save the cripple stalls for the cripples.

Ours is a cold, cruel, insensitive world sometimes. Thus, cripples need to make contingency plans for everything, even a simple thing like taking a piss. Like one time I was on the mall in Washington D.C. I had to piss. No worries. There was a line of port-a-pots yonder. But when I got there, all the double-wides with the cripple symbol on the door were locked! I’ve heard other cripples complain about this situation before. The city fathers think homeless people will sleep in the spacious cripple stalls. So they lock the doors. And if a cripple has to take a shit, tough shit!

And don’t even get me started about the airlines! You know how cramped airliner bathrooms are. It’s like trying to take a shit inside a chimney! So if you’re a cripple, forget it! No potty breaks for you! Your contingency plan is to dehydrate the hell out of yourself until your innards turn to dust.

It’s no wonder I had this wonderful dream where I was riding around in a motorized commode. Yep, it was a fancy motorized wheelchair, just like the one I ride in now, but it was also a commode! And this commode could fly, too! It was beautiful!

I’m sure the fabulous flying commode was a symbol of my fantasy of living in a paradise where cripples can take a piss whenever they so desire! I felt so powerful in my fabulous flying commode, so in control of my destiny. It was so liberating!

But alas, I woke up and realized it was only a dream.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Where's the Keeper?

I know that facial expression quite well. I’ve seen it a million times. I see it every time a covey of cripples suddenly arrives.

(Cripple etiquette lesson #27: Covey is one of the proper terms to use when referring to a group of cripples. It’s correct because it’s alliterative. However, when referring to specific types of cripples, different alliterative terms apply e.g. a pack of paraplegics, a herd of hemiplegics, a pride of polios or a bevy of brain injured. But any group of between two and eight cripples of mixed or unknown categorization is known as a covey. Any group of more than eight cripples is known as a nursing home field trip.)

But anyway, when cripples converge, I see that all-too-familiar look on the faces of those being converged upon. It’s a look of alarm, except with eyebrows downcast. It’s a searching look. It’s a look that says: Where’s the keeper?

I see that look when cripples protest. Cripples burst in screaming “fuck the fascist pigs” and the cops look around desperately. Where’s the keeper? And then they approach the nearest vert (as in vertical, which is the proper term for a person who can walk). It's as if the cops think cripples are incapable of bursting in and screaming “fuck the fascist pigs” unless some vert puts them up to it.

But I see that look even when a covey of cripples comes in peace, say like to a movie theater or restaurant. The manager has a look of panic. Where’s the keeper?

It happens all the time. I’m guilty too. I went to see a play. It was some Shakespeare deal starring Down Syndrome people. The play began and the only people on stage in Shakespeare outfits were Down Syndrome people. That wasn't what I expected. I said to myself, “Where’s the keeper?” I’m well aware that this means I am an ass hole. But acknowledgement is the first step to recovery.

And sometimes I see that look even when I’m the only cripple in sight. I see it a lot at airports. I see it and then I hear “Are you with him?” That’s the security person addressing whichever member of my pit crew is traveling with me. “Tell him to go over there,” the security person says, as if my pit crew and I communicate in Swahili. And I am left to conclude that apparently I, singlehandedly, look as pathetically intimidating as an entire covey of cripples or drove of dytrophics.

I’ve seen that look everywhere. Where’s the keeper? I’ve seen it at the store around the corner, in the church down the street and everywhere cripples are kept.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Another Reason Why Walmart Blows

I was deep asleep. I woke up with a jolt. I heard a commotion.

“Ma'am! MA'AM!”

I figured out that I was in my van in Walmart parking lot. The commotion was Rahnee, having it out with the store greeter.

“Ma’am! You can’t bring that scooter out of the store, MA'AM!” the greeter spat.

Rahnee tried to ignore her but the perturbed greeter followed her out to the van. “Bring that scooter back!” Rahnee spat back that she wasn’t trying to steal the store’s cripple scooter. She was merely bringing her stuff out to the van. But the greeter was having none of it. She went back in to summon security. Rahnee put her stuff in the van and we were gone.

So this made me wonder if there’s ever been an actual case of someone trying to steal one of those ragged-ass Walmart cripple scooters. I found two cases. (Warning: These stories are true.) In Houma, Louisiana, police pulled over a guy driving a motorized scooter down a busy street, towing behind him a guy in a wheelchair. Turns out the scooter was shoplifted from Walmart. The driver just said he took it to go for a “joy ride.” He was charged with theft (grand theft store cripple scooter?) and operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

In Florence, South Carolina, two guys jumped into a pair of scooters as they were leaving Walmart and took off. Police caught up with them pretty quickly. One guy jumped out of the scooter and tried to run away. The other first claimed he purchase the scooter and then said he took it because he got “tired of walking.”

Note how neither of the scooter thieves were crippled. That because no real live cripple would steal a store scooter. I can see where a lot of cripples might be tempted. I mean, a cripple without adequate wheels is like a turtle flipped over on its back. But wheels, especially motorized wheels, are FUCKING EXPENSIVE, particularly if you’re on Social Security or if you work at a place that pays crap wages, like Walmart. You become intensely jealous of any cripple who has the wheels you lack. You entertain fantasies of wheelchair jacking. So in a moment of inertia-induced temporary insanity, absconding with a Walmart cripple scooter may seem like a brilliant solution.

But cripples know that driving a store cripple scooter is like driving a barge. That’s how sleek and maneuverable they are. And they’ve got that God-awful, eardrum-piercing, irritating warning beep whenever you back up! So no genuine cripple would steal a store cripple scooter. It ain’t worth it.

Smart Ass Cripple reader Nancy is a genuine cripple who went to Walmart. “I went to get some groceries after a long day dealing with ailing parents,” says she. “I needed a lot of stuff so I used the Walmart scooter.” She paid and tried to exit but the store cop blocked her and said she was not allowed to drive the scooter out to her car. “Now I was tired and it was late I wanted to get home so I protested about having to transfer all the items to a regular cart and then again to my car.” The store cop said he’d get someone to help. “But I waited 10 minutes. Nothing happened. So I said ‘f this’ and tore out to my car.”

But that little stunt apparently landed her on the Walmart cripple scooter watch list. Maybe the FBI dusted the scooter for fingerprints or took a DNA swab and then slapped Nancy’s mug shot up in the break room. Because the next time she exited that Walmart, the cop chased her out of the store and grabbed onto the back of the scooter yelling “You can’t take that scooter out of the store!”

But it wasn’t even Walmart’s scooter. Because of the scooter hassle she got before, this time Nancy decided to byo.

Eventually the store cop figured that out. A crippled store cop would never have made that mistake. We know a barge when we see one.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Elbow Macaroni Queen

Pierogi Fest. That’s what the celebratory sign said.

That’s how you assert your culture within the dominant white culture. That’s how you celebrate who you are and where you come from.

You do it with food. You pick a food that symbolizes who you are and where you come from. And you build a festival around it.

Pierogi is an indigenous food of my maternal culture. Babushka cuisine. It’s a cuisine born of frugality. My family ate the tongues and butts of animals. My grandma used the blood of a duck to make soup. And once grandma plucked and cooked a chicken from her farm and we all ate every last damn edible bit of that bird, everything but the beak and eyeballs. Grandma boiled the chicken’s feet and I ate one.

But you have to be careful because you know how the dominant white culture can be. When the dominant white culture comes to fully recognize something of value in a different culture, you know how they show their appreciation. They steal it. And then they ruin everything. They do it with food all the time. It’s culinary colonization. I saw this new place called Autentico Mexican Restaurant. It was in a foo foo suburb so I looked at the menu in the window, just for laughs. There wasn’t a damn thing autentico about it. Tacos for $13.50! Tacos are supposed to be cheap. That’s a major reason why tacos are such a celebrated food. But the dominant white culture fills a tortilla with lobster thermidore and charges $30. That’s as ridiculous as chitlins a l’orange!

Cripples have yet to identify a symbolic cultural food staple that we can put forth to illustrate who we are and where we come from. Until we do that we’ll never be affirmed by the dominant white culture.

So I’d like to offer up elbow macaroni as the cheap food that is the essential ingredient of cripple cuisine. The official cripple cookbook: 1,243 Recipes for Elbow Macaroni.

Because it's so cheap, just about every cripple is full of elbow macaroni up to their eyeballs. Institutionalized cripples are served elbow macaroni for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Buttered elbow macaroni. Elbow macaroni with salt. Crunchy elbow macaroni.

But even free-roaming cripples consume tons and tons of elbow macaroni. Broke ass cripples use elbow macaroni as thoroughly as Eskimos used the whales they harpooned. They don’t just eat the elbow macaroni. They make clothing and furniture out of it. They construct huts out of elbow macaroni and heat them by burning elbow macaroni in furnaces made of elbow macaroni.

We’ll know the dominant white culture has officially taken notice of cripple culture when we see Chef Pierre’s Elbow Macaronium.

And of course the highlight of every food-oriented culture festival is the presentation of the queen. So the star of cripple fest will be the Elbow Macaroni Queen. She’ll wear a regal crown and flowing gown, made of elbow macaroni.