Thursday, October 30, 2014

In a Turmoil Over the Special Olympics

I admit I’m all in a turmoil when it comes to the Special Olympics. On the one hand, there’s something anachronistically patronizing about it all. When I think of Olympic athletes, I think of Michael Phelps and LeBron James and whichever Kenyan won the last marathon. And let’s face it, if the Special Olympians took on those Olympians, the Special Olympians would get whupped.

On the other hand, so fucking what? The Special Olympics is people getting together and having fun. What’s wrong with that? Isn't having fun what sports is supposed to be all about? What kind of elitist prick am I?

On the other hand, everybody wins in the Special Olympics. If you don’t get a medal you get a ribbon or a certificate suitable for framing. And everybody gets a hug. But that’s not how life works. Everything in life isn’t one big happy tie. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Better get used to it. I’m sure Special Olympians can handle that reality. No need to shield them from it.

On the other hand, so fucking what? Isn’t that a nice break from the hypercompetitive dick-sizing that causes soccer fan riots? I don’t think there has ever been a Special Olympics fan riot. And people don’t turn over cars and set them on fire in gleeful celebration when their Special Olympics team wins either. And what wrong with ties? I call myself a socialist, don’t I? Isn’t that what socialism is all about—making sure the game ends in a tie? Or maybe that’s not what socialism is all about. I don’t know. I’m all in a turmoil.

On the other hand, if you can’t swim as fast as Michael Phelps or throw a javelin as far as Trinidad’s own Keshorn Walcott, isn’t it best to proudly own that deficiency? Because hell, there’s a whole lots of things you can do that they can’t. And you don't see them crying about it. So why try to be something you’re not? Why not be who you are? Back when I was in primary school for cripples, I was in the rhythm band. I played sticks. I banged two black wooden cylinders together. Other kids played stuff like shakers and triangles and bells on a bracelet. All the crippled kids were in the rhythm band whether we had any rhythm or not. There were spastic kids and kids with no arms. There were two kids who could only move their heads so they sat next to each other, each with a cymbal strapped to the side of their head. A teacher stood behind them and when the cymbal part came around the teacher banged their heads together. Okay, I made that last part up, but the point is neither I nor most of the cripples in the rhythm band had a lick of rhythm. I can’t even play a fucking triangle. But who cares? I’ve moved on. So why try hammering a square peg into a round hole?

On the other hand, who the hell died and left me in charge of deciding who has rhythm and who doesn’t? If you put a bell bracelet on a spastic kid and turn him loose you might hear things that give rhythm a whole new dimension. So maybe that’s what Special Olympics is trying to do. Maybe it's trying to redefine my stodgy old notion of what an athlete is. Maybe I'm the one that's stuck in the past!

On the other hand, oh hell I give up. I’m in such a turmoil.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Breaking My Father's Heart

We’re overdue for one of those father and crippled son stories in the press. One of those stories seems to pop up every year or so. Father and crippled son embark on a journey to raise awareness and inspire people. A father runs a marathon while pushing his son in a wheelchair. A father runs across the Great Plains with his crippled son strapped across his back. In towns along the way citizens hold rallies to cheer them on.

These stories make me think of my father and the relationship we had, which was pretty much zero. My dad wasn’t around much. We knew he was still alive when his monthly check arrived. One year I decided to send him a Father’s Day card. What the hell, I thought. Why not? So I set out in search of a card to express my sentiments. And boy did that turn into a task. One card said, “Happy Father’s Day to man who is always there whenever I…” Nope, can’t buy that one. Another card said, “Happy Father’s Day to a man who is my hero and…” Nope again. Nope nope nope again and again until I finally found a card that said something like, “Happy Father’s Day to a man who is… a father.”

Having a pretty much zero relationship with your old man sucks. I don’t recommend it. Don’t try it at home. But these father and crippled son stories make me realize that it had its upside. There was no chance in hell of my father ever saying, ”Hey sport, let’s run a marathon!” I’m so grateful for that, just like I’m grateful that my father never had a family business called Ervin and Son Funeral Home that he dreamed of turning over to me someday. In either case, I would have had to break my father’s heart by telling him thanks but no thanks.

I couldn’t play that crippled son role. It reminds me too much of those situations where people heap praise and admiration on me when I haven't done anything. It creeps me out. I imagine First Ladies often feel the same way. I feel like a prop. It's like back when I was a poster kid and people gushed but all I did was be crippled.

But there is one scenario under which I would have gladly let my father tote me around in public. Suppose my father received a letter from Medicaid refusing to buy me a wheelchair for any of the million reasons Medicaid might refuse to buy a cripple a wheelchair. And suppose my father then said, “Goddammit sport, I ought to strap you across my back and run across the Great Plains to raise awareness about how Medicaid fucks cripples over! We’ll call it the Look How Medicaid Fucks Cripples Over Tour!”

All along the route I would inspire citizens to grab their pitchforks and charter a bus for the capital. I’d happily be a prop for that. That would be putting my crippledness to very good use.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

FRS and Other Toxic Syndromes

Most pregnant women don’t drink alcohol anymore. That’s good. It didn’t used to be that way, but then we discovered that alcohol is toxic to fetuses and causes fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).

Most pregnant women don’t smoke during pregnancy either. That’s good too. It’s good that we’re a lot more enlightened than we once were about what’s toxic to fetuses.

But I think a lot more research in this area might be necessary. Someday we may see signs up all over the place with a black silhouette of a pregnant woman in a red circle with a diagonal red slash. Because I still often see pregnant women engaging in reckless behaviors that common sense tells me must surely be injurious to their poor fetuses. Like for instance, I was greatly alarmed when I recently saw on television a pregnant woman at a political rally for a republican! Talk about a toxic environment, with all that cynicism and paranoia! The woman was getting all frothed up too. She was jumping up and down and waiving a sign. Now surely getting all frothed up at a republican rally produces toxins in the bodily fluids that can’t be good for a fetus. I bet it stunts the growth of the fetus and greatly increases the odds that someday, when this fetus is human, it too will go to republican rallies and get all frothed up. What a terrible fate to inflict upon a child! Someday, when we are more enlightened, this will be known as fetal republican syndrome (FRS).

And I also saw a pregnant woman on television at a Celine Dion concert! That shouldn’t be allowed either, should it? Or at least not after the first trimester or so. Because fetuses aren’t stupid. They can hear what’s going on on the outside and they’re very easily traumatized. Need I say more?

And I even saw a pregnant woman coming out of a port-a-potty once. What the hell is that all about? All those noxious fumes! The fetus is probably in the womb holding its nose and pounding on the walls and screaming, “Please, please take me back to the fucking Celine Dion concert!”

But it’s still the republican thing that scares me most of all. You would think that they of all people would prohibit fetuses from attending their rallies, just to be on the safe side. But I guess they don’t want to shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to recruiting. It shows what hypocrites they are when they say how much they adore fetuses.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

The Inspiring Story of the Crippled Man and His Really Hot Wife

The man on the cover of the book I saw on the rack in the hospital gift shop has no arms or legs. Not even stubs. He’s essentially just a torso with a neck and head. Fortunately for him it’s a handsome, well-groomed head.

And the head is smiling because this man is a happy man, in spite of everything. And this man has a message of hope and inspiration for us all.

You don’t even have to read the book to feel uplifted by this man. All you have to do is look at the back cover where you will see that this man has a hot wife—a very hot wife with four limbs that appear to be fully functional and exquisitely developed.

Say no more! Message received! If Joe Pedestrian sees this book it will change his worldview. The next time he passes someone on the street who is just a torso with a neck and head, his perception of that person will be much more positive. Because I think Joe Pedestrian thinks that one of the saddest things about being crippled is that they can only date their own kind. It’s like on that TV show where a little person is married to another little person. Joe Pedestrian has never seen a married little person who isn't married to another little person. Joe Pedestrian has never seen a real cripple with a hot wife on TV except for Christopher Reeve and some war vets, but that doesn’t count because they were married before the guy was crippled. They were grandfathered in. Joe Pedestrian must think it’s some kind of law or something that cripples can only date their own kind. And so a man with no arms and legs must be limited to cruising dating websites or kinky bars that are exclusively for people with no arms and legs. And that’s so sad.

But apparently that’s not the case because look at that author’s hot wife. That’s so uplifting! Joe Pedestrian never thought he’d see the day when he would actually be jealous of a man who is just a torso with a neck and head.

But there’s one other thing Joe Pedestrian can’t help but wonder about men who are just a torso with a neck and head. He can’t help but wonder if they might also be missing their….. well, you know. It’s a fair question. I wonder about that too, though I dare not say it out loud. But look at the beaming smile of the author’s hot wife. That’s the smile of a satisfied woman, which tells us that it doesn’t matter whether or not the author is missing his….. well, you know. He still has a tongue that licks, a nose that burrows, eyelashes that gently tickle and a mouth that makes motorboat noises. So he can still make women happy.

This is the most uplifting message of all. It brings Joe Pedestrian great peace of mind to know that there is always hope, even if he should lose all his limbs or suddenly become a little person or even if, God forbid, something terrible should happen to his….. well, you know.

(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Contributing to the tip jar, purchasing books and subscribing through Amazon Kindle keeps us going. Please help if you can.)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cops and Cripples and Cripples and Cops

I hear scary stories all the time about cripples getting roughed up at the hands of cops. Like for instance, a deaf person is driving and a cop pulls them over and the deaf person starts doing sign language and the cop assumes they’re flashing gang signs or something and roughs them up. Or someone who’s schizophrenic or has PTSD gets stressed out and has a shit fit because a cop is ordering them around and so the cop roughs them up.

It almost happened to my friend Jay way back when, way back in the 1970s, when he was a long-haired hippie freak. He was out cruising one night with his long-haired hippie freak buddies. His buddies lifted him into the front passenger seat of the car. They put his wheelchair in the trunk. Late that night in a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot, a cop car squealed up behind them. Two cops jumped out. “Get out of the car!” they barked. Jay’s friends got out of the car. “Open the trunk!” It seemed these cops were convinced that these long-haired hippie freaks must have had three tons of cocaine in the trunk. One cop saw Jay still sitting in the car so he went around and whipped open the passenger door. “I said GET OUT OF THE CAR!” As the cop prepared to drag Jay out of the car, the trunk opened. There wasn’t three tons of cocaine. There was only a wheelchair. The other cop called his agitated partner off and they scurried away.

Some say the problem is cops don’t understand the complexity of dealing with cripples. They need more training. That may be true. But I’ll still always be afraid of the cops because no matter how extensively trained they are in the proper care and handling of cripples, there will always be some crazy scenario where they freak out and don’t know what to do. Like for instance, there’s this concert place called Lincoln Hall. It’s an old movie theater that was gut rehabbed into a concert venue. And when they gut rehabbed it they installed an “”””””elevator.”””””” I put the world elevator in six quotes because it’s really just a lift that goes up a 15 foot shaft. You roll into a lidless box that’s just big enough for a standard wheelchair and you feel like you’re in solitary confinement. And when the box goes up it sounds like gears crunching and the shaft shakes. And the box moves soooooooooooooooooooo sloooooooooooooooooowly. I swear it takes an hour to go 15 feet.

Lincoln Hall isn’t the only place with an elevator like this. And whenever I go up or down in one I dread that it’ll get stuck right in the middle and then what? The police will be summoned to rescue me but what can they do? It’s like trying to rescue a grown man in a motorized wheelchair who somehow managed to fall down a well.

Here’s the safest and simplest scenario for rescuing me: The police cut a hole in the roof of Lincoln Hall directly above the lift. A police helicopter hovers above and drops a giant U-shaped magnet attached to the end of a rope down the hole. The magnet attaches itself to the metal of my chair and the helicopter lifts me up out of the box and through the hole in the roof and sets me down gently and safely on the sidewalk outside. A crowd of gawkers has gathered as they do when there’s someone out on a ledge. They all cheer! The television news crews capture every dramatic moment on camera.

But that ain’t gonna happen. Instead some hapless and bewildered cop will lasso me and assemble every able-bodied male in the vicinity to pull on his end of the rope like they’re dragging a dead elephant out of a ravine. That’s bound to end badly.

Cops will never be totally prepared for cripples. We’re just too whacky.