Sunday, August 11, 2013

Call in the Marines

Apparently, back about 40 years ago, there used to be an elite team of specially-trained U.S Marines whose mission it was to carry cripples up and down flights of stairs.

Because I remember being an adolescent and becoming so bored and restless that I broke down and attended what were known as “muscular dystrophy parties.” These were parties for people with muscular dystrophy that were organized by wealthy uncrippled people as community service projects. Muscular dystrophy parties were always children’s parties, even though they weren’t always for children. There was always a cameo appearance by Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. I remember some square dancers came to entertain us once.  Jugglers and clowns. You get the picture.

Muscular dystrophy parties were held at this fancy banquet hall where the narrow bathroom stalls weren’t wheelchair accessible. But never fear because the muscular dystrophy party organizers made an accommodation!  Nurse Connie was on duty! At the beginning of every muscular dystrophy party the emcee made a formal announcement that if anyone needed to go to the bathroom, just raise your hand and Nurse Connie will help you. Nurse Connie sat on a stool back against the wall, wearing her bright white nurse uniform, arms folded and a no-nonsense scowl on her face. She was built like a lumberjack. I never had Nurse Connie help me go to the bathroom. I was too afraid. I pictured her flinging me back over her shoulder like Godzilla, carrying me into the bathroom and ripping the stall door off its hinges.

And the banquet hall was also at the top of about a zillion stairs. But never fear because the muscular dystrophy party organizers made another accommodation!  They called in the marines! Lined up outside the banquet hall was a pack of marines, dressed in their formal blue coats with the red trim and their flat-topped white hats. And when the cripples arrived we were swarmed by marines who immediately hoisted us up like  the winning coach, wheelchairs and all,  and carried us up the stairs. It was a precision drill.

I assume this marine unit has since been disbanded. When I see marine recruitment commercials and they show the montage of all the cool and exciting stuff marines do, I never see them carrying cripples up and down stairs. So maybe the Pentagon determined that with all the damn access laws that have passed since the heyday of the muscular dystrophy parties, this unit is no longer necessary. Or maybe they consolidated operations and hauling cripples up and down stairs is now the job of the Navy Seals.