Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cherry on Top

When I was an inmate at the state-operated boarding school for cripples, aka the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT), there was one staff member who derived sadistic delight from torturing me.

I’m speaking of the dietician. As soon as they checked me into the place I became her captive prey.  She immediately slapped me onto a strict low calorie diet. God how I hated her bloody guts!

Here’s a graphic example of how her sick mind worked. First of all, inmates received their dinner trays at 4:30! Did you hear me?  4 fucking 30! What human being under age 95 who doesn’t live in Miami eats dinner at 4:30? One day all the kids who weren’t at the diet table (fatties had to sit at a segregated table) got chop suey or something that was gourmet by SHIT standards. I lifted the lid off my plate and what was my main course? Two scoops of cottage cheese atop a sad shard of iceberg lettuce! And each scoop was garnished on top with a maraschino cherry! Are you kidding me? It made them look like tits! What kind of twisted prank was this? Putting a cheery cherry on top of my cottage cheese entrĂ©e was like presenting me with a dead dog gift wrapped with a pretty pink bow! Somewhere in the mess hall there had to be a hidden camera focused square on the fatty table through which the dastardly dietician spied on us from her office in the darkest nether region of the basement. I pictured her doubled over with diabolical laughter at the sight of our despondent expressions when we lifted our lids. “Priceless!”

I still hate low cal diets! They’re a scam! You can’t tell me that in the richest nation on earth we don’t have the technology to ensure that everyone weighs pretty much what they should.  We drain fat out people with liposuction, right? So why not lipotransfer? Hear me out! There are plenty of people running around who eat like a goddam horse but still stay skinny as a broomstick. Those people are so fucking irritating. Everybody knows somebody like that. So I could be a fat donor for one of them. Hook us up through a tube. I know it’s not as easy as it sounds. Donors and recipients will have to be tested to make sure it’s the right fat match. But we do it for hearts and lungs and kidneys so why not fat? That’s right, I’m advocating for a radical redistribution of fat in America.  We left it up to the free market and look what happened. Some people ended up with way more fat than others. Lipotransfer is the solution. It would make diets obsolete! And dieticians, too!

But anyway, I survived the brutality of the SHIT dietician with the help of the Fried Chicken Underground, better known as Benjamin the night janitor. Word got around that Benji was an easy mark. If you approached him on the sly, slipped him a few coins and gave him a sad story, he might go get you something from the Chicken Shack across the street. He’d complain about it under his breath. “Gonna get me in trouble.” But when he returned from his dinner break, he smuggled in brown paper bags. I opened mine in a secluded corner. Nestled in a rectangular, cardboard basket was a fried drumstick and slice of doughy white bread soaked through with hot sauce. Glorious.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Kentucky Fried Rat

A guy picks up a bucket of chicken. He takes it home, turns on the game, settles back, digs in. And soon he discovers that one of his pieces of chicken is really a Kentucky fried rat.

I hear a story like that on the news and I really get upset. I say to myself, “What a lucky sonuvabitch!” How come nothing like that ever happens to me? I suppose one reason I never find a Kentucky fried rat in a bucket of chicken is because I never buy a bucket of chicken. But that’s because every time I’ve bought a bucket of chicken all I’ve ever gotten is chicken. That’s the kind of rotten luck I have.

Biting into a Kentucky fried rat would cause me some serious PTSD sure enough. Imagine the nightmares. But it would also turn my pupils into dollar signs. I’ve gotten to the point where my retirement investment strategy consists solely of finding a Kentucky fried rat and suing that Colonel’s sorry ass from here to Toledo! Screw IRAs. It’s too late for that for me. My only hope for a financially comfy old age is to invest in a KFR.

Because otherwise all I’ll have coming to me is my pissy little cripple Social Security check. I know there are millions of cripples who get by for decades being broke ass on Social Security. But I’ve never been very good at being a starving cripple or a starving artist or a starving anything. Give me pizza or give me death. The broke assiest of the broke ass cripples who live on Social Security get like $600 a month. How the hell do they do it? I guess they live the perpetual college student lifestyle, minus all the getting laid. They eat a lot of Ramen noodles and tater tots and ketchup sandwiches (open faced).

And if some right wing morons had their way, we wouldn’t even have Social Security anymore. They would privatize the hell out of it. They’d turn the administration of the Social Security program over to the casinos. At the beginning of each month, every cripple gets a roll of quarters and their choice of playing any unoccupied slot machine. And if the cripple hits it big, bully for them! It just proves once again that in America, hard work and perseverance pay off! And if the cripple doesn’t hit it big, oh well. Try harder next time.

But if I end up being a broke ass cripple, at least there’s a bright side. Broke ass cripples have to eat a lot of cheap fast food, which will significantly increase my odds of finding a Kentucky fried rat. I just wish there was a way for me to find a Kentucky fried rat without eating all that damn chicken, just like I’m trying to figure out how to win the lottery without buying a ticket.  It doesn’t even have to be a rat. I’d be just as thrilled to discover a wingnut in my Taco Bell burrito or a syringe in my bag of Doritos. As long as I get sue a humongous corporation, I’m not picky. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Smart Ass Cripple’s Emergency Preparedness Disaster Plan

Natural disasters freak me out. I live in constant fear that some horrible twist of fate will plunge the human race into a state of cannibalistic chaos and push us to the brink of extinction, such as an asteroid striking earth or republicans winning elections.

Let us ponder the asteroid scenario, since the republican scenario is far too horrible to even think about. It seems inevitable that sooner or later earth will get blasted. The universe is constantly hurling snowballs. And it’s not like earth is an elusive moving target. Earth just sits there, plopped down like a walrus on the crapper.

When disaster strikes, like an earthquake or tsunami, I see footage of the smoldering rubble or the rampaging waves and I pray that never happens here. Because if it does, I ask myself frankly, who’s gonna help me pee?

It’s easy to cut my lifelines. I schedule a crew of people to come in and out every day and perform indispensible services, like helping me pee. But what if among those people buried under the rubble is the person who’s supposed to help me pee? I’ll be screwed.

Veteran cripples develop a variety of strategies for holding our pee because we know that no matter how proactive we are, there will be times when we really have to go and there’s nobody around to help. I find that self-distraction works well for me. One trick is to try reciting the presidents to myself in order. I feel the urge to pee swelling  so to take my mind off of it until help arrives I close my eyes and say, “Okay. Let’s see: Washington…. Adams…..uh….. Jefferson………….Van Buren. No wait! Oh shit start over!”

But Band-Aid measures like that only work for so long.  If I’m bursting to pee and the people who help me are buried under rubble, I won’t make it past Grover Cleveland.

And I don’t have faith that I can rely on the traditional first responders. Will the Red Cross dispatch someone to help me pee? Doubtful. They have no problem setting up refugee camps and shit like that, but they have to draw the line somewhere. FEMA? If I call them they’ll think it’s a prank. The National Guard? I don’t think helping me pee is included in their mock disaster drills.

The only solution I can think of is to bring back the draft. Because whenever you have a draft you will also have draft dodgers. Some people will perform any contortion to stay out of the army. So one of the public service options we make available to those desiring to avoid conscription is being an emergency urinal jockey for cripples like me. These conscientious objectors would be sentenced to hanging around with me all day in the event of an asteroid strike. They wouldn’t even have to do anything except be ready to spring into action if my pit crew members end up buried under rubble or clinging desperately to a hunk of driftwood. These draft dodgers could also receive some college credits if they want. We could say they get three or four credit hours in the field of urinalism.

Sorry about that last joke.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Am, Therefore I Loiter

All cripples have a superpower. It’s our ability to loiter.

The one thing cripples do better than anybody is loiter. There are two reasons for this. First, loitering is just hanging around. You just sit there. You don’t have to do anything else. Cripples are good at that.

But hanging around only becomes loitering when you start hanging around places where you’re not welcome. So that’s another reason cripples are natural born loiterers. It’s always been easy for us to find plenty of places where we’re not welcome. And the most crippled up cripples make the best loiterers of all because the more crippled up you are the more places you’re not welcome. Take, for example, the comatose. They’re the most crippled up of all and so everybody feels awkward around them. Even me. I admit it. Some people say if you talk to the comatose they can hear you but I don’t want to talk to them because I have no idea what to say to them. I don’t want to offend. I’m afraid to ask an innocuous question like, “How has your day been?” It might come off as stupid and insensitive.

Thus, since the comatose make conscious people feel so uncomfortable, they’re unwelcome pretty much everywhere beyond their sickrooms. So it’s easy as hell for them to loiter. If you don’t believe it, try an experiment. Take a comatose person out to lunch. Or take them to a movie or a ballgame or to church or wherever. Everyone around you will soon be on edge. It won’t be long before security comes around.

The cripples of yore were big time loiterers because there were a whole lot of places they weren’t welcome. But some of them decided to use their superpower as a force for good. They started hanging around wherever they damn well pleased, whether cripples were welcome or not. And they endured all the crap you’re put through when you do that. They loitered so future cripples wouldn’t have to.

So now there are a lot less places where cripples are unwelcome. But their work is not finished. There’s still plenty of loitering that needs to be done. So it’s good to know that the more crippled up I become the more subversive and powerful I’ll become. It makes me feel as though I’ll always be of use. I’ll be able to loiter even if I’m in a coma, though I’ll need the help of accomplices to pull it off. I’ll need my conscious allies to take me to places where I’m not welcome.

And if I’m in a coma on the day the peaceful revolution begins, somebody please come get me and put me at the front of the march. It will render all the evil bastards in charge powerless. What are they going to do, turn their water cannons on a guy in a coma?

I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that I helped revolutionize human society and usher in a new era of peace and cooperation, just by loitering.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Simple Joy of a Sturdy Toilet Seat

I think the most brilliant actors are those who perform in television commercials. Their incredible talents leave me in a state of awe. A woman, an on-the-go working mom, removes a glass from her dishwasher. She inspects the glass closely, her face awash with worry, as if she’s about to receive her biopsy results. But when she sees the glass no longer has water spots, she leaps with joy. She becomes an evangelist for this brand of dishwasher powder, telling all her neighbors the wonderful news.

It’s amazing. How does that actor do it? How does she go about inhabiting a character that ascends to a state of unbridled ecstasy when she no longer has water spots? What elusive muse does this actor beseech? It seems to me that would be harder for an actor to do than Shakespeare. Do they have a gala awards show for these actors? They sure as hell ought to. Fuck the Oscars. Fuck Olivier. 

Last month I broke down and bought a high end toilet seat. I’ve always bought cheap ass toilet seats because why not? But before long the plastic bolts crack and the damn seat shifts around under me while I sit reading on the crapper and it’s irritating as hell.  It takes the sacredness out of my nightly dump. So I got a toilet seat with metal bolts and to this day it’s still sturdy.

But I resist the urges to get all worked up with happiness about my new toilet seat because I wouldn’t want to risk becoming like one of those people the actors portray in commercials. I wouldn’t want to become the kind of person who sees a bottle of dish liquid named Joy and takes it literally. Because if I buy into that whole idea, then the next thing I know somebody’ll try to sell me a bottle of dish liquid named Orgasm. And won’t I feel like a chump when I find that about the only way using this product is reminiscent of the actual event is when it squirts out a sticky white substance.

But maybe I should go ahead and surrender to consumerism. Seeking spiritual fulfillment in household products might harmonize well with the sedentary cripple lifestyle. But it’s hard for me to give in because one of the things I inherited genetically from my mother is her hypersensitive bullshit-ometer. My mother did not suffer bullshitters well. I often thank her for passing that trait on to me. It’s kept me from falling prey to most of life’s sinister sales pitches. But often, and especially lately, the needle on my bullshit-ometer stays pinned at the far end. My bullshit-ometer crackles incessantly with static, like a crazed Geiger counter. The alarms sound and the lights flash. It’s an excruciating din. And I don’t know how to shut the damn thing off.

I fear the only way to find relief may be to have a complete bullshit-ometerectomy. But wouldn’t that leave me completely defenseless, like a declawed cat? Maybe I’d be better off.  Maybe life would be a lot more free and easy if I just tossed away all skepticism and let myself experience that kind of unconditional love known as brand loyalty.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pit Crew

There was a guy who was a member of my pit crew many years back who lifted me out of my wheelchair one day and let out this blood-curdling howl. It scared the crap out of me. I thought he’d ruptured a disc, popped a hernia, ripped a major artery and who knows what else. When he set me down I asked if he was all right. He shrugged and nodded. He said he’d been reading up on martial arts and decided to summon maximum strength when he lifted me by issuing a karate yell. But he didn’t do it all the time. He did it randomly and without warning and each time I’d freak out anew for a hot second until I remembered. One time he let out a yelp as he lifted me onto an airplane and the fight crew looked on in horror, as if they thought he’d ruptured a disc, popped a hernia, ripped a major artery and who knows what else.

The moral of the story is that people who work in a cripple’s pit crew are always quirky. Even the good ones who stick around. They’re always quirky. My sister had a pit crew person who seemed perfectly sane and balanced. The young woman was punctual and hard-working and even-tempered. But she claimed, with an absolute straight face, that Dan Akroyd was her live-in lover (and distant cousin). She always talked about the cute little thing Dan said or did today. When you called her answering machine, you heard, “Hello, Susie and Dan aren’t home…..”

People who work in a cripple’s pit crew are always quirky. It’s the nature of the game. It’s a nesting place for odd birds. I had a pit crew guy who had green hair matted up in homemade dreadlocks. I had another guy who was covered in tattoos and wore skirts and tights to work. Tending to a cripple is a quirky job. My cripple friend Jeff got tethered to a breathing ventilator long, long ago, back when ventilators were as big and bulky as a microwave oven. Nowadays, ventilators are a lot more portable but back then Jeff had to commandeer one of those old double-decker audio/visual carts on wheels. And if he wanted to go anywhere, to a store or a bar or wherever, his pit crew guy plunked the breathing apparatus onto the cart and pushed it alongside Jeff as he drove through the crowded city in his motorized wheelchair.

If you’re going to work in a cripple’s pit crew, you have to be ready to do quirky stuff like that.  And you have to be dead-on reliable and punctual, because there’s a cripple in bed waiting for you to get them up. And you have to at least be honest enough not to seize the many opportunities you’ll have to steal all of our shit. And you have to work for the rock-bottom crap wages paid by the state. And there’s no upward mobility. It’s not like someday you’ll become regional vice president in charge of washing my armpits.

And above all, you can’t be all Mother Teresa about it all. No selfless martyrs please. There’s a home help agency around here called Visiting Angels. What a horrifying name! I’d sooner hire an agency called Visiting Chronically Underemployed Conspiracy Theorists Who Rant on Ad Nauseum. Even they’d be more fun to be around. Is there anything more suffocatingly tedious than spending all day with an angel? You can’t tell a dirty joke to an angel. In the presence of an angel, one cannot fart.

It takes a unique sort to be a pit crew person. It’s not a job for the completely unskewed.