Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Inept Verticals

I’ve always wanted to start up a barnstorming basketball team that is the cripple equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters. But I’m afraid that plays right into the hands of The Oppressor.

My cripple team’s mission would be a variation on the tried and true box office formula that is the essence of the enduring appeal of the Globetrotters: beating up on inept white guys. Anybody who has ever felt squashed under the thumb of The Oppressor knows what I’m talking about. We find therapeutic relief in some form of fictional entertainment where an inept and bungling symbol of The Oppressor gets a pie in the face from someone of our kind. We laugh at what a fool The Oppressor really is! Tables are turned! Justice prevails!


Wouldn’t it be great, I say to myself, to tour the world with my crippled basketball team, providing cripples with this same sense of political relief from The Oppressor’s suffocating bureaucracies and charities? Except instead of beating up on inept white guys, our team would beat up on inept verts (which is short for verticals, which is slang for people who walk). It’s ridiculously easy to find inept verts to be our comic foil. Take any NBA All Star team, put them in wheelchairs and shove them out onto the court against any wheelchair basketball team. The cripples will make those most breathtaking of athletic specimen look like helpless little trembling lambs.

But then I remind myself that the one thing the ever-paranoid Oppressor cannot and will not tolerate is being mocked. So then why hasn’t The Oppressor shut down the Globetrotters, declared them all terrorists and thrown them in the brig? In the McCarthy era, why weren’t the Globetrotters dragged, in their full uniforms, before HUAC?

It must be because the twisted logic of The Oppressor perceives Globetrotteresque hijinks as somehow serving His evil purpose. It’s all part of His bread-and-circus appeasement strategy. If indulging in such crude amusement is what it takes for the unwashed masses to endure their lot another day, let them have their fun. Let them release spurts of steam from the pressure cooker so the lid doesn’t blow. Let them entertain the fanciful notion that at least for a fleeting moment they are the ones in charge. It is fiction, after all.

And so, for our slapstick amusement, The Oppressor offers up a sacrificial army of pawns, in the form of the Washington Generals or the New York Nationals or any of the teams the Globetrotters routinely humiliate. They are His stand-ins in the political dunk tank. And He writes it all off as collateral damage.

So I won’t fall for it. I’m here to tell The Oppressor that if He’s reading this, and I’m sure He is, I’m on to Him! I’ll not be used to advance His sinister agenda!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Crippled Weathermen

It’s around this time of year that I start thinking about the cripple state of the union. Have American cripples made any progress in the last year?

So I spend a lot of time watching weather reports on the news. Because everyone knows that the best way to analyze who’s who among American minorities jockeying for higher social status is to analyze our television weathermen/women.

Because for some reason, weatherman/woman seems to be the entry level pop culture celebrity job for people who aren’t your standard, automatically-trustworthy, white males. I mean hell, in America, even an overweight person can make it big doing the weather on television. Let me rephrase that: In America, even an overweight MAN can make it big doing the weather on television. I’ve seen overweight weathermen but I’ve never seen an overweight weatherwoman.

But there are weathermen who are overweight and not even white to boot. Wow! Talk about tolerance! The only other time you see overweight people on the news is when there’s a story about obesity. And then we see them on what’s referred to in the technical language of television news production as “the fat ass B-roll montage.” Every television news operation seems to have one of those, just in case a story pops up about obesity. It’s so rude. And how is this montage created? I guess a producer barks out to a camera crew, “Go out and shoot a bunch of pictures of people with fat asses!” Are those whose asses are shot then asked to sign a release? And why is this montage even necessary? Stories about republicans aren’t accompanied by B-roll of white guys lighting cigars with $50 bills.

Anyway, America has evolved to the point where we trust overweight people to bring us the weather report. Sometimes you see overweight sportscasters, but usually they’re former football players, in which case they have a good excuse for being overweight so we forgive them.

But I’ve yet to see an openly crippled weatherhuman. I check back this time every year just to see if anything has changed, but so far nada. I even watch The Weather Channel. I hate watching The Weather Channel because it seems like every time I turn it on there’s a show about tornados. I don’t know who the hell these people are who enjoy watching shows about tornados. They must say to themselves, “Boy it’s been a rough day! All I want to do is pop open a brewski, put my feet up, kick back and be reminded of the random viciousness of the universe.”

The weatherhumans on The Weather Channel are black and white and male and female and some are a tinge overweight. But there’s no trace of a cripple. Not even a whiff. Now granted, there might be a don’t-ask-don’t-tell thing going on. It’s possible one of them has a wooden leg but they aren’t the type that goes around shoving it down people’s throats.

But as far as my naked eye can see, there are still no crippled weathermen. Some say cripples have made enormous strides. But I say show me the proof. Show me a weatherman.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Liver Wind

Back about 20 years ago, Anna went to see a Chinese herbalist. Why not? It was worth a shot.

She came home with a small, brown, paper bag full of what looked like twigs and pebbles and dried leaves and dirt.

The Chinese herbalist said she was suffering from “liver wind.” Too much wind in her liver. His prescription was a special tea. That’s what was in the bag.

So Anna boiled up a pot.  So I tried some, too, in solidarity, even though I didn’t have liver wind. Or maybe I did. Only a Chinese herbalist could tell me for sure.

The tea was as black as shoe polish. And it smelled like shoe polish as it boiled up. And it tasted like shoe polish—shoe polish infused with cigar ashes and dirt. It was unforgettably hideous. Not even dumping in large quantities of honey helped. All that did was make it taste like shoe polish infused with cigar ashes and dirt and large quantities of honey.

And the tea didn’t do any good either. Or at least it didn’t make either one of us jump up out of our wheelchairs and do a leaping Russian dance. We were just as crippled the next morning.

But what if the tea had worked? What if the reason I was crippled all these years really was just because I had too much liver wind and the instant, miracle cure was to drink three cups a day of that tea?
That would have sucked big time! Because then I would’ve faced this big dilemma. Was it really worth not being crippled anymore if it meant drinking another drop of that putrid tea? I don’t think I could’ve done it. That was a too heavy of a price to pay.

 I’ve never been a good “compliant” cripple. That’s what doctors and therapists call them. Compliant. Those are the cripples who spend eight hours a day in a physical therapy gym for years and years, hoping they’ll be cured. They get hooked up to a body harness that hangs from the ceiling above a treadmill. The harness hoists them up out of their wheelchair into a standing position and holds them upright as they lumber on the treadmill. After that they lift weights and play catch with a medicine ball.

And after all that they’re still crippled. But even if it did work, I still couldn’t do it. If I had to spend all day suspended above a treadmill in order to spend the rest of the day not being crippled, screw it. I’d rather be crippled all day.

The whole compliant cripple routine looks so damn tedious. No fun at all. The daily routine of a regular old cripple can be tedious enough as it is. Why would I want tedious free time?

And being a compliant cripple is expensive, too. How about Lourdes, huh?  People save up for years so they can travel to Lourdes and drink the water and come back just as crippled. If I had enough money to take a trip to Lourdes, I sure as hell wouldn’t spend it on a trip to Lourdes. I’d buy my own island or something.

Maybe I’m lazy. Maybe I’m too much into instant gratification. Whatever. I’m having fun.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cheering for the Wildebeest

My self medication of choice for depression, as I’ve said before, is Cheetos. But I’ve learned that Cheetos alone aren’t enough, not even if they start making them prescription strength.

I’ve learned that I have to avoid all those things that can trigger a spiral of despair. Thus, I can’t watch any more nature shows. Because I always cheer for the prey. That’s just the kind of guy I am. It really sucks sometimes. There’s the grazing wildebeest. The lion lurks. My delicate sense of justice is offended.  I want so badly for the wildebeest to defy all the odds and kick that damn bully lion’s ass! Sometimes the wildebeest actually wins the battle. Maybe it comes up with a ruse and scares the dumbass lion away. (Thank God lions are stupid or we’d all be fucked!) Or maybe the wildebeests organize and lion realizes it’s outnumbered.

But even if the wildebeest prevails, I still get depressed. Because I know it’s not that morally cut and dried. Prey is such a relative concept. One species’ prey is another species’ predator. There’s no idealizing it. I have a Chihuahua that hates chipmunks. She despises chipmunks with every fiber of her 11-pound being. She sees a chipmunk and she breaks into a psychotic, barking rage. To a chipmunk, my Chihuahua looks like a tyrannosaurus. But a chipmunk looks like a tyrannosaurus to a gnat. And a gnat looks like a tyrannosaurs to an amoeba. Etc.

I can’t rejoice for long even if the wildebeest lives to graze another day because it is only a temporary stay of execution. Sooner or later, the wildebeest with fulfill its inevitable destiny as a food source for lions. Because isn’t that why the universe bothered to conjure up the wildebeest—to be a food source for lions? 

And then I’m reminded that this is why all living, earthly beings have been invited into the universe in the first place. The universe brought us here to be food sources, if not for another species then for the earth herself. And then I’m reminded that this includes me.  In the grand plan of the universe, I am but a future food source for earth. That is why I’m here. I am prey.

This is where the spiral reaches its nadir.  Even Cheetos won’t help.  I grab my psychological bootstraps. I give myself the old Knute Rockne halftime speech: “Okay, so your ultimate universal purpose is to be a lowly food source. Big deal! Welcome to the club! That doesn’t mean you have to act like a food source! You’re not a food source today, are you? And you probably won’t be tomorrow, either. So get out there and go go go! Don’t just quiver in the corner! Who says food sources can’t have fun, huh? Get out there and boogie with a female food source! That’s the best way to get even with the universe! Have fun! Don’t let the universe push you around! Fuck the universe!”

And so I get out there and try to have fun, motivated by those three little words: fuck the universe!

I know I’m all screwed up in the head. You don’t have to tell me.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Boogie Man Tour

Remember back not long ago when some people swore up and down that certain vaccines caused autism? I thought I also heard something about autism being caused by too much heavy metal in the brain chemistry. I don’t mean heavy metal music. I mean heavy metal.

It all turned out to be bullshit, which is great news for people with autism. They can just relax and be who they are. Because if it was true, they’d be morally obligated by our culture to go around warning everybody not to get vaccinated or not to French kiss aluminum foil or whatever, lest you or your children become one of them.

They would’ve been obligated to embark upon a boogie man tour, starring them as the negative example. Shirking that responsibility is tantamount to child neglect. The message of a boogie man tour, whether stated or implied, is always the same: "Don’t be like me. Don’t do (fill in the blank)." Don’t cross the street in the middle of the block. Don’t get stoned and bungee jump.

If you’re a cripple due to something with a direct, preventable cause, you’re screwed. You’ll never find peace. You’ll be under a lot of pressure to go on a boogie man tour. It doesn’t matter who you are. If science ever proves you can get what Stephen Hawking has from a dirty toilet seat, he’ll be dragged into making public service announcements that say: “Don’t be like me. Think before you sit.” His boogie man tour will be sponsored by the company that makes those rotating plastic covers on airport toilet seats.

So I’m really grateful I’m not that type of cripple. There’s nothing you can do to keep from being like me. I’m crippled because one or both of my parents had a mutated survival motor neuron gene 1, which they passed on to me. So the best I can do is urge you not to be evil’s accomplice by unwittingly creating more mutants like me. Here’s how my PSA would go: “Hi, this is Smart Ass Cripple reminding you that before you have sex with someone, know their history. If they have a mutated survival motor neuron gene 1, for God sakes, use a condom!” My boogie man tour sponsor would be Trojan.

I don’t think I would perform very well on a boogie man tour. I mean, I can think of a ton of reasons why parents wouldn’t want their kids to be like me, but they don’t have anything to do with me being crippled. And I wouldn’t want to give the impression that if I wasn’t crippled, everything would be lollipops. Most of my problems aren’t because of being crippled. Most of my problems are because of republicans. If you really want to improve my crippled existence, get rid of them.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Legend of Crippled Clint Eastwood

It has been almost 40 years since I busted out of the state-operated boarding school for cripples, aka the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT). And I must admit that even today, being a SHIT graduate inspires me to strive to achieve great things.

I want to win several Nobel prizes, a Pulitzer and an Oscar. I want to become the world’s greatest cellist, cure cancer and wrestle a rabid alligator into submission on live television.

I’m still holding out hope that I’ll be able to check all these things off of my to-do list. I’m working on it. Don’t count me out because I’m super motivated!  Because I want to hear people say that this guy who wrote the novel that transformed human civilization, invented the life-saving method for irrigating the deepest regions of the Sahara and brokered the permanent peace between Israel and Palestine went to a fucked up little state-operated boarding school for cripples. I don’t know why I’m dying to hear that. Just for a laugh, I guess. There’s something irresistibly ridiculous about it. People who pull off big time feats like these go to Harvard or Oxford or whatever. They never go to a place like SHIT. The more I achieve the more ridiculous it is.

But no matter what I do, I will never be the most legendary inmate in the history of SHIT. That distinction, at least in the eyes of the other inmates, will forever belong to a 1960s inmate named Clint Eastwood (Smart Ass Cripple alias).  

Every conceivable shape, size and breed of cripple passed through SHIT at some point. But Clint Eastwood was the one cripple everybody talked about. By the time I arrived at age 13 he was long gone. His stay was brief, but his legend endured.  What the inmates all vividly remembered about Clint Eastwood was how he always jerked off. It didn’t matter where he was, the veteran inmates said. He could be at breakfast, in class, in the middle of playing Chutes and Ladders. If he felt like doing it, he’d do it, on the spot.

I don’t know what made Clint Eastwood crippled. Maybe it was what we now call TBI (traumatic brain injury). Those folks can be pretty whacky because sometimes they have no inhibitions about some things. They might take a dump in the middle of the Sistine Chapel and not think twice. They don’t mean any harm. It’s not contempt. It’s just that the etiquette regions of their brains don’t fire up in the way the rest of us want them to.

Who knows? But according to the legend, Clint Eastwood simply disappeared one day, like a political dissident. He was discharged to some place even more dark and mysterious and punitive than SHIT.

And that gave all us young boys great pause because, well, you know how young boys are. You can’t hold out forever. You may be able to resist until such time as you were snug up under your bed covers, but sooner or later you would give in. And what if one of the houseparents uncovered evidence of your indiscretion? How many indiscretions would it take before they sent you off to the same place they sent Clint Eastwood? And you sure as hell didn’t want to find out where that place was.