Saturday, December 26, 2015

How the Latest Revolutionary Product for Cripples Truly Changed my Life

I signed up to be a guinea pig. I was part of the human trials to test the latest revolutionary product that promises to change the lives of cripples all over the world.

The product is called the Needless Apology Cripple Shock Collar. The manufacturer is BF Skinner and Sons of Buffalo, New York. It works like those collars you put on dogs that bark too much and when they bark it gives them a shock. Except cripples wear these collars around their necks and the collars give them a good shock whenever they needlessly apologize.

Mr. Skinner and his sons seem to have an acute awareness of the psychological intricacies of crippledom. They know that the vast majority of cripples spend a lot of time needlessly apologizing. If your average cripple starts choking and someone gives them the Heimlich, soon after that cripple will profusely apologize to the Heimlicher for disrupting their day by choking.

But not me. I’m evolved. I’m not one of those cripples who feels subconsciously compelled to repeatedly apologize for the inconvenience caused by my existence. That’s why I signed up to be a guinea pig. I figured it would be easy money.

But less than an hour into my first day wearing my shock collar it gave me my first jolt. I was sitting outside a high-rise building waiting to go in. The doorman held the door open and I said, “Sorry.” Jolt! And then I realized how silly it was to apologize to a doorman who holds the door open for me. The job title is pretty unambiguous. Door-man.

And I received a second jolt shortly thereafter. I was waiting at the intersection to cross the street. A car stopped at the stop sign. As I crossed I looked at the driver and said, “Sorry.” Jolt!

I received so many jolts throughout the course of the day that I found myself apologizing to the shock collar for making it shock me. Jolt! “Shit! All right all right! Sorry!” Jolt! Shiiit! All right all right! I’m not sorry! Fuck you!”

It was a sobering experience indeed. The Needless Apology Cripple Shock Collar broke me of a bad habit I didn’t know I had. In my report, I thanked the manufacturer for creating a product that truly changed my life. And I told them that if they really wanted to help cripples they should figure out a way to use the same technology to create as asshole shock collar that gives the wearer a good jolt whenever they act like an asshole. Like when I’m waiting to get in a high-rise where there’s no doorman and some uncrippled person blows right past me a goes in like I’m not even there, that person would get a good jolt right then if wearing an asshole shock collar. Every bureaucrat who deals with cripples ought to be required to wear an asshole shock collar, too, and when they say stuff like “you have to redo this 978-page application because you signed your name in blue ink,” it would give them enough of a jolt to curl their hair.

The possibilities are endless.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Helpful Hints for Properly Celebrating Smartass Cripple Appreciation Month.

As every Smart Ass Cripple aficionado knows, December is Smartass Cripple Appreciation Month (SCAM). This is the fourth annual SCAM, as established by President Obama in his 2012 SCAM executive order calling upon every American to “remember and honor the indispensable contributions Smartass Cripple has made to the enrichment of American society.” Thus, “government agencies, community organizations, schools, museums, cultural entities, institutes of higher learning, houses of worship and ordinary citizens are urged to organize displays, parades, exhibits, school assemblies and other events that honor Smartass Cripple.”

The president took this action for two reasons. First, it was right after he was re-elected and let’s just say he owed me big time. Second, he knows I have the worst recorded case of Attention Deficit Disorder. I can never get enough attention.

I had to make one small compromise. It seems that the names of all federal laws and executive orders have to form a catchy acronym, as mandated by the Catchy Acronym Creation Act (CACA). So I agreed to be known as Smartass Cripple instead of Smart Ass Cripple so that Smartass Cripple Appreciation Month can simply be referred to as SCAM.

I’m honored that so many of you have organized displays, parades, exhibits, school assemblies and other events that honor Smartass Cripple. I’m sure I’ll find out about some of them soon. But I imagine many of you are panicking because December is rapidly drawing to a close and you haven’t come up with a fitting way to show appreciation for Smartass Cripple.

Well here are some last-minute ideas. There are a lot of things I’d like to have named after me, such as:

A sandwich. It would be cool to have my own commemorative sandwich. I’d have chicks throwing themselves at me. So if you own a deli you can invent the Smartass Cripple sandwich. Such celebrity sandwiches are supposed to reflect the personality of the person after whom they are named. So the Smartass Cripple sandwich will have to be made of tongue and horseradish.

A college. It would be even cooler to have a college named after me. If you think Smartass Cripple College sounds ridiculous, hey, there’s a Malcolm X College in Chicago. There was a time when that sounded ridiculous. So if you own a college or university, name it after me. If you’re a college student, organize a bunch of protests until the guy in charge names the college after me.

A disease. I’m rethinking this one. Having a disease bearing your name is a sure-fire ticket to immortality, especially if it's incurable. But there’s three ways to make that happen. 1) Conduct years and years of scientific research. Fuck that. Too much work. 2) Die of the disease (see Lou Gehrig). Fuck that too. 3) Have a bunch of people gather for some reason in your name and they all get a mysterious disease (see Legionnaires disease). So I guess that last scenario would only happen if there was a Smartass Cripple convention and a bunch of people got sick. That doesn’t sound like a pleasant option either.

A dog. Something like a Jack Russell terrier. So if you’re a dog breeder, you can create some kind of weird new fusion dog and call it a Smartass Cripple terrier or something like that.

I hope these helpful hints will empower everyone to properly celebrate Smartass Cripple Appreciation Month. Please drink responsibly.

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Like Common Cripples

Prison riots will probably break out all over the country very soon. It’s only a matter of time before criminals revolt because they’re tired of being treated like common cripples.

State governments have an increasing appetite for confiscating the assets of inmates to help pay for the cost of their incarceration. Last year in Illinois, a court ruled that the state could seize $20,000 a soon-to-be-released prisoner received as part of his mother’s wrongful death lawsuit settlement. Another Illinois prisoner got a nearly $14,000 inheritance when his grandmother died. After he was paroled, the state took all but $4,000 of that.

Yep and apparently there are confiscation laws like this on the books in 43 states. The idea is to reimburse the state for providing a public service, which in this case was a prison cell.

Cripples have gotten garnished for decades for using public services. Like for instance, when you sign up for a program like the one I use, where the state pays the wages of the people I hire to put me on the crapper and whatnot, you can only have so much in assets. So suppose someone dies and leaves you some money. Whenever that happens, it’s always a bittersweet bad news/ good news type of situation, right? But in this case it’s bitter and sweet and back to bitter again because if that windfall suddenly puts you over the asset limit, you have to set up a trust. And whatever money is left in that trust after you die goes to the state as payback for the cost of your care.

If you’re a cripple on Medicaid, you can’t have assets of more than $2000. Two thousand scrawny little goddam bucks! And if you’re a cripple on Medicaid in a nursing home, the nursing home will swipe away your Social Security and give you back only $30 a month. Thirty little puny-ass anemic–looking pathetic bucks!

And since no one wants to be taxed anymore and governments have to come up with creative new revenue-raising contortions, hell, pretty soon the punitive garnishment strategy may be applied to everyone who uses a public service, which is everybody every day. Whenever we walk down a public sidewalk, we’ll all have to wear special shoes will odometers embedded in the heels and so much per mile will be deducted from our bank accounts. All toilets will have a flushometer and every flush will be another debit to help pay for the public sewer system.

But I don’t know how long John and Mary Public will tolerate having such strict austerity penalties imposed on them for using public services. At some point they’ll rise up in protest and say, “Hey, you can’t treat us like that! We’re not crippled!”

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

E=MC2: The Amazing Life and Times of Stephen Hawking

It looks like my dream is about to come true, more or less.

I finally decided to hunker down and write a play I always promised myself I’d write someday. It’s called E=MC2: The Amazing Life and Times of Stephen Hawking. So first I did extensive research to learn everything there is to know about the good professor. That’s how I came up with the catchy title because, as everyone knows, E=MC2 is Hawking’s most famous quote.

The play is one of those one-man shows. The actor playing Hawking sits motionless in a wheelchair in a spotlight on a bare stage. And he uses a talking box to deliver a monologue about his amazing life and times. I don’t mean to brag, but I think it makes for a spellbinding 2 hours and 40 minutes of theater.

I wrote this play for three reasons. One, Hawking is a cripple icon and I thought it was high time for something to be written about him from the perspective of another cripple. Two, I wrote the role of Hawking with the intention of playing the role myself because it has long been my dream to star in a Broadway play that wins a Tony Award. But I can’t act worth shit. And memorizing lines scares the crap out of me. So I figured if all I had to do was sit there and let the talking box do all the work, this could be the perfect part for me! The third reason I wrote this play was for money.

I should also mention that this isn’t technically a one-man show. A second actor plays the part of the nurse. This is a small but important role. When Hawking enters at the top of Act 1, the nurse pushes him in, positions his wheelchair in the spotlight, pushes a button on his taking box and exits. Then, at the end of Act 1, when the professor’s monologue builds to the peak of its tension as he complains about how just because he’s crippled some people talk to him like a goddam baby even though he’s a physicist, the nurse enters and delivers her only line. She says, “Excuse me, professor. I don’t mean to interrupt, but it’s time for your sponge bath.” They exit. End of Act 1. The nurse pushes the professor on stage again at the top of ACT 2. And then we don’t see her again until she takes her bow at the curtain call.

Well I sent my play to a whole bunch of Broadway theaters and they all rejected it! I was more pissed off than devastated. It was clear that my play was far too visionary to be understood by those Neanderthals who produce on Broadway! That’s when I made a painful but necessary decision. I knew that the odds of being produced would improve exponentially if a big star played the lead. So I gave up my dream of playing Hawking and sent the script to Dustin Hoffman. And much to my delight, Dustin (that’s what I call him now) contacted me about a week later. He was ecstatic! He said Hawking was the one role he’d always wanted to play.

With Dustin on board, of course a Broadway theater scooped my play up right away. And Dustin, being the consummate professional that he is, immersed himself in preparing for the role. He studied hours upon hours of video footage of Hawking sitting motionless in his wheelchair, so as to master his every nuance, his every twitch and blink.

And last week my play opened to rave reviews. The New York Times called Dustin’s performance “masterful.” Newsday said Dustin “brings the celebrated professor to life.”

Thanks to Dustin, the opening performance ended with a standing ovation when, after the nurse took her curtain call bow, he rose from the wheelchair and bowed. That was an ad lib but it worked so well I’m definitely adding it to the script.

So you can see why I’m feeling pretty pumped up, eh? E=MC2 has Tony Award written all over it!

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

When I was in Kindergarten I was an Idiot

When I was in kindergarten I was an idiot. Part of the kindergarten curriculum was a period after lunch called nap time. They’d take all us cripples to a dark room full of cots and make us lie down. And I fucking hated nap time! I resisted napping like it was torture. They practically had to bound and gag me to get me to settle down and take a damn nap.

See what I mean? Was I an idiot or what? I don’t know what I was thinking with that pea-sized kindergarten brain of mine. But I am a changed man. I fantasize now about having a job where the supervisor calls an emergency staff meeting to announce, “Listen up! A new edict just came down from corporate. Effective immediately, after lunch, everybody has to take a nap!”

Taking naps is a pain in the ass for me because I can’t get myself in and out bed. I’d have to call in one of my pit crew members to toss me in bed and all that so I just say fuck it and I don’t take naps, which is a damn good thing because if I could nap at will it probably would have ruined my life a long time ago.

Because I know me. When I get all cozy warm up under the covers I never want to come out. And I’m married to a woman who’s the same way. She’s a nap enabler. Maybe some people can power nap and spring up fresh after 10 minutes. But I know I don’t have that kind of will power. My naps would be seven, eight, nine hours long. I wouldn’t have any friends or a job and I’d end up on the streets, napping on a cardboard slab.

Eventually the bouts of post-nap remorse would get to be too much for me and I’d finally admit to myself that I’m napping my life away and I need help. I’d join Nappers Anonymous. And I pity the person who becomes my sponsor. I’d wear that poor sap out quick. I’d call him/her every day and here’s how it would go:

ME: I really wanna take a nap.

SPONSOR: No! Stay awake, brother!

ME: I’m gonna take a nap. Just a quick one. Ten minutes. Good night.

SPONSOR: Hold on! I’m coming over!

My sponsor kicks down my door and finds me all cozy warm up under the covers and I’m sawing wood like a sonuvabitch. He/she has to do something that will irritate me enough to get me out of bed, like strike up the live marching band he/she brings along in these emergency situations. Or maybe play a republican presidential debate at full blast. And I’d probably take a swing at him/her and then the police would come.

So it’s a good thing I can’t get myself in and out of bed.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

A Public Apology to the Great and Powerful Oz

This is my public apology to this guy I know whom I shall refer to as the Great and Powerful Oz (Smart Ass Cripple alias}. The Great and Powerful Oz has demanded no such apology. He probably doesn’t even know I owe him one. But I feel the need to unburden.

A few years back I was planning to have a party. The Great and Powerful Oz caught wind of this and when I ran into him he said, “Hey, can I come to your party?” I said of course he could come. I wasn’t going to say no and look like an elitist asshole, especially since he asked me in front of other people. But I was worried because I’d heard tales of his ability to consume massive quantities of beer. And sure enough, the Great and Powerful Oz came to my party and plopped down on my couch and downed what seemed to be 99 bottles of beer. It was probably only about 5 or 6. But finally when he held up an empty bottle and asked for another, I slipped him a bottle of nonalcoholic beer. And he happily downed it and 2 or 3 more without knowing the difference because The Great and Powerful Oz is blind.

I know that was a shitty thing to do to pull a fast one on a blind person. And I must also confess that my sneaky action was very premeditated. When I went to the liquor store to buy beer for my party, I picked up some nonalcoholic beer in anticipation of that very scenario. Why the hell else would I buy nonalcoholic beer?

I’m not proud of what I did. Well, actually, I am a little proud. But I’m definitely not proud of the fact that I’m not completely not proud. Being a little proud of my action makes me feel even more ashamed of it. That much I can say for sure! I took the easy way out and in so doing I undermined a fellow cripple’s hard-earned independence, autonomy, sense of dignity and right to self-determination. But I am a weak person. I am a hypocrite. I should have treated the Great and Powerful Oz the way I would want to be treated if the roles were reversed. I should have said to him, “I know that you have as much right as anyone to make your own decisions and to plot the course of your own life. As your crippled comrade, I will always honor and respect that. And so I say unto you that I believe you’ve had too much to drink and you should switch to nonalcoholic beer.” But I don’t think the Great and Powerful Oz would have passively gone along with that recommendation and that could well have altered the course of the evening. This was supposed to be a party, not a damn intervention. It was a lot easier to just slip him nonalcoholic beer.

So I hope the Great and Powerful Oz reads this public apology. Actually, I really hope he doesn’t read it because then the next time I see him he’ll say, “Hey, you slipped me nonalcoholic beer, asshole!” And for the sake of again avoiding confrontation, I’ll vehemently deny that he is the subject of this piece. I’ll lie and assert that this is purely a work of fiction and any resemblance to anyone living or dead is a coincidence.

I’m such a weak person.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

For Those Who Can't

I don’t know how to feel about those events where people raise money for a certain genre of cripples by getting together and doing something those particular cripples really suck at doing.

I’m talking about events with names like The Third Annual Walk for Those Who Can’t. People walk a mile or so and collect pledges and give the money to an organization serving cripples who can’t walk. If they do the walk on a Saturday, which is a slow news day, it might get a 15-second spot on the local news.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association sponsors events called Muscle Walks. Their online store is called the Muscle Shop and there you can buy stuff like backpacks, t-shirts and coffee mugs that say Make a Muscle on them. People with muscular dystrophy, like me, come in all shapes and sizes. You’ll find us in all walks of life, in every socioeconomic stratum. But the one thing we all suck at is making a muscle.

So I’m not sure how those of us on the receiving end of this goodwill are expected to react. I think the goal is to help us feel better about ourselves and our situation. Maybe we’re supposed to feel relief. “Don’t worry, pal. I know you can’t walk but I got you covered. You just relax.” But it might have the opposite effect. When people dwell upon that at which you so thoroughly suck at doing, it can make you self-conscious and ornery.

Do people organize these types of events for other cripples, like blind people? The Third Annual Cross a Busy City Street Without Getting Hit by a Bus for Those Who Can’t. What about medical problems, like infertility? The Third Annual Get Pregnant and Give Birth to a Beautiful Healthy Child for Those Who Can’t. What about for political issues? The Third Annual Get a Job that Pays a Woman the Same Thing a Man Gets Paid for Doing the Same Damn Job for Those Who Can’t.

But maybe I’m just a big fat whiner. These people mean well. I should just shut the hell up and get with the spirit. I may not be able to walk, but there are plenty of things I can do well and I should use whatever abilities I have to help those who aren’t as fortunate. So I’m going to raise money for men with erectile dysfunction. The First Annual Get it Up for Those Who Can’t. I’ll gather a bunch of my most virile friends and we’ll sit in a circle. I’m not sure exactly how it will work from there. I don’t know how the pledge part will work either. And I don’t think the local news will cover it.

But I’ll figure it all out. I just want to help men with erectile dysfunction feel better about themselves and their situation.

(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.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The $5 Cardboard Donut ($20 When Adjusted for Inflation)

When I was a wee criplet, my mother paid $5 for a donut. And it wasn’t even edible because it was made of cardboard. The donut said Thank You on it and it hung by a string from the rearview mirror of our rust-riddled station wagon.

I was baffled. That was a helluva lot of money to pay for a donut you couldn’t even eat, especially for a family that drove around in a rust-riddled station wagon. That would be about $20 today. My mother explained to me that she didn’t get just a donut for her $5. She got much more. This was no ordinary donut. The $5, you see, went to support the people who lived at a village for the retarded, which is the word they used back then to describe the people who live in those villages run by nuns and such.

I still didn’t get it. Why would anyone pay that much for a donut? If it was edible and filled with delicious jelly, maybe. But cardboard? What was the point of a donut that you couldn't eat? That was like non-alcoholic beer.

It wasn’t until I became an adult trying to keep up with the hectic pace of life that I fully understood. When the people with the slotted cans who collected money for the village approached the driver’s window of my mother’s car as she waited for the light to change, what they were selling was peace of mind. Because we all have so much to worry about, so many people and things demanding our attention. It’s all so overwhelming. Everyone wants to be a sensitive person who takes the suffering of others to heart. But if you take the suffering of EVERYONE to heart, you’ll drive yourself nuts. You won’t have time or energy left for anything else. But when you purchase a $5 cardboard donut to help the people who live in those villages, you’ll experience the unique joy that comes from knowing you can cross them off your worry list. The nuns will take care of it.

This was a valuable lesson to learn and it will come in handy if I ever have to resort to begging. And hell, the way things are going with Social Security, you never know. I know one thing for sure. I won’t be one of those penny-ante beggars, selling chewed up pencils for whatever nickels and dimes passersby flip me. My chewed-up pencils will sell for $20 each. No haggling. Most people will scoff I’m sure. But many will see the true value of what I’m selling and they’ll consider $20 to be a bargain.

Maybe I’ll build a begging infrastructure as vast as the one assembled by the nuns, with any army of volunteer surrogate beggars doing my begging for me. And maybe I’ll make enough cash to buy myself my own little piece of a hedge fund somewhere. My only regret will be that I didn’t take up this begging business a lot sooner. Foolish pride.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


Way back when, I knew this cripple named General Douglas MacArthur (Smart Ass Cripple alias). I give him an alias because he carries around a dark secret and I don’t want to out him.

I didn’t know General Douglas MacArthur all that well. I last saw him 25 years or so ago when he was a big shot at a state agency. Then he went on to become a big shot professor or something. He’s helped Senators develop legislation and he’s won awards from U.S. Presidents.

But I’ve always wondered what General Douglas MacArthur says when somebody asks him how he became crippled. Because according to reliable sources I also knew way back when, General Douglas MacArthur injured his spinal cord in a very kinky manner. They say that he was at a drunken outdoor barbecue and he met a woman and soon they went around to the other side of a hill so they could make out in privacy. Meanwhile, another partier left the drunken barbecue and drove his truck over the hill. He didn’t know anyone was on the other side and he ran over General Douglas MacArthur while the woman was in the midst of performing oral sex on him.

And that, they say, is how General Douglas MacArthur became crippled. It’s probably true. There are many stories of people who became crippled because they did some kinky sex thing which accidentally resulted in them losing or ruining a body part, breaking their necks or sustaining a brain injury due to oxygen deprivation or blunt force trauma.

And surely people have asked General Douglas MacArthur how he became crippled. There isn’t a cripple alive who hasn’t had someone come up to them and say, “So, what happened to you?” Does General Douglas MacArthur just mumble something standard like “car accident” and quickly change the subject? Does he make it into something all dramatic, like, “Well I was walking down the street when I saw a toddler about to be mauled by a bear so I immediately--!” If General Douglas MacArthur tells the truth, it would jeopardize his big shot status. Even Christopher Reeve couldn’t fully transcend something like that. Imagine if Christopher Reeve, instead of doing something heroic like falling off a horse, became crippled when he was run over by a truck while receiving oral sex from a stranger. That screws up his whole post-injury gig. There’s no way he goes on to become a courageous warrior for us all to emulate. In deference to his artistic accomplishments and celebrity status, some people might nevertheless still attempt to heap awards and praise upon him. Everybody would applaud and politely play along, but we’d all be secretly snickering on the inside.

I wonder if General Douglas MacArthur’s dark secret curtails his ambition. Maybe he dreams of running for Congress but he’s terrified that his opponent will catch wind of how he really became crippled and smear him in an attack ad. Or maybe the woman who was with him on the other side of the hill will surface and he’ll have to pay her hush money.

If the truth comes out, General Douglas MacArthur may well end up a broken man, a big shot in exile. His only shot at redemption will be to become a public speaker, lecturing high school students. “Don’t make the same mistake I did. Don’t attend drunken barbecues and go around the hill for oral sex. It’s not worth it.”

(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.)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

After the Revolution

I was watching a movie that was set in New York in the 1940s. And you know how sometimes you’re watching a movie and you spot a blatant historical inaccuracy that ruins the whole illusion? Well in this movie the protagonist crossed the street and the curbs on both sides of the intersection were nicely ramped to accommodate wheelchair cripples. “Oops,” I said to myself. “Somebody didn’t do their research. Don’t they know that in the 1940s there was no such thing? In the name of authenticity, somebody should have made concrete-colored ramp fillers out of Styrofoam and stuffed them in those gaps to eliminate those ramps and more accurately reflect the inhospitable nature of the times.”

And then I had one of those moments where I think about some of the shit previous generations of cripples put up with and I shake my head in disbelief. I said to myself," I can’t believe there was a time when there was nothing but big-ass curbs everywhere. That would make me erupt. Life must’ve really sucked back then.”

And then I had one of those moments that I always have after I have one of those moments where I think about some of the shit previous generations of cripples put up with. And I told myself not to be so damn superior. Every generation of cripples puts up with shit we ought not to put up with, including mine. When I fly on the airlines they haul my ass to my seat and take away my wheelchair and throw it in the baggage hole, which means I’m screwed in the event of an emergency. I’m also screwed if I have to go to the bathroom, although I’d still be screwed in that regard even if I had my chair because those airliner bathrooms are so tiny you can’t sit on the crapper without your knees pressing up against the back of the door. So you sure as hell can’t fit a wheelchair in there. I feel like erupting in outrage about all this but I don’t. Erupting probably wouldn't yield any immediate results anyway. If I demanded an accommodation from the airlines in the event that I have to pee in flight, they’d probably issue me a clothespin to clamp onto the end of my pecker. So instead of erupting, I quietly dehydrate myself. This greatly reduces the odds of my needing the bathroom during the flight or of peeing my pants in the event of an emergency.

And then I had one of those moments that I always have after I have one of those moments where I remind myself about the kind of shit my generation of cripples puts up with. And I wondered what future generations of cripples will say to themselves when they look back on us hapless cripples of today and shake their heads in disbelief. Here’s what I hope they’ll say: ”I can’t believe there was a time when every cripple didn’t have their own free, custom-made, accessible private jet. That was before the revolution, when cripples seized control of the government and immediately passed the Free Custom-made Accessible Private Jet for All Americans with Disabilities Act (FCAPJADA). Life must’ve really sucked back then.”

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Zombies of Color

I saw an ad that really made me curious. It said, Wanted: Zombies of Color.

So I called to find out what it was all about. And the recorded message said, “Thank you for calling Zombie Finders. If you want to sign up for the zombies of color audition, press 9.” So I pressed 9 and the recorded message told me to show up Thursday at noon.

And then I did some research and I learned that Zombie Finders is a talent agency that specializes in casting ordinary folks in the roles of zombies in movies and TV shows. There’s a huge demand because the zombie apocalypse has become a hot artistic topic in recent years and nobody ever casts just one zombie. Zombies are always cast by the shitload. That’s where Zombie Finders comes in.

More research revealed that last year the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged Zombie Finders with employment discrimination. An investigation by the agency found that nearly all those who passed Zombie Finder auditions were white, which is why the shitloads of Zombies we see in movies and TV shows do not, in the agency’s words, “reflect the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of America.”

I never thought about that but it’s true. I know whenever I think about zombies I picture white males. That’s how we’ve been conditioned by our mass media

So the zombies of color audition was part of Zombie Finders settlement agreement with EEOC. I was super excited to try out because if zombie diversity was what they were after, I could deliver that big time. In no zombie movie or TV show have I ever seen a zombie in a motorized wheelchair or even a dwarf zombie for that matter. Zombies are pretty goddam homogeneous. And whereas I am not technically “of color,” I feel like being crippled in some ways makes me an honorary member of that club. And I was also super excited to try out because being cast as a zombie would be the realization of a lifelong vocational ambition. As a kid I pictured myself as everything from a boxer to an astronaut. But never in my wildest dreams did I dare imagine that some sweet day I would be paid to act like a zombie.

So I showed up Thursday at noon and got in line. I had a soliloquy from Hamlet all memorized and ready to go. But then a large man with curly red hair and a clipboard asked me to come with him. He escorted me off to a corner. “I’m sorry sir but the audition is only for zombies of color,” he said.

I explained to him that any truly inclusive shitload of zombies would contain at least a smattering of cripples. “And besides,” I said, “a zombie in motorized wheelchair would wow the pants off of the EEOC!”

“A zombie in motorized wheelchair?” scoffed the fair-skinned linebacker of a man. “Impossible. First of all, what happens when your batteries run out of juice? Do you expect people to believe that a zombie has the wherewithal to periodically stop and recharge its wheelchair batteries?”

“Well I don’t know!” I protested. “May I’m freshly zombified and I’m still running on the juice I had before I was undead!”

But the man wasn’t buying it. I continued pleading my case until he threatened to call security.

So I left. But I’m still pissed. I have half a mind to gather up some crippled brothers and picket Zombie Finders. But I don’t think it would do much good. The zombies probably won’t honor my picket line because they don’t have much job security. They can be easily replaced by scab zombies.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Cripples on the Titanic

I don’t know for sure, but I bet there weren’t any cripples like me on the Titanic. But if there were any, I wonder what happened to them?

Rescue etiquette in a civilized society dictates that women and children be saved first. The whole basis for this is to save those who are allegedly the weakest and most vulnerable. So it follows that cripples would be included in that grouping, being that we are a popular symbol of the ultimate in weakness and vulnerability. Cripples might even be at the top of the rescue list.

But my guess is that even if that’s how things were on paper, any cripples like me on the Titanic probably went down with the ship involuntarily. Or at least I’m sure that’s how it would be if the Titanic went down today. Because the humane plan for orderly exit that moves the weakest and most vulnerable to the front leaves rich white guys at the end of the line. And I can’t imagine rich white guys of today sitting back and letting that happen.

Altruistic notions really get put to the test when the holders of such notions suddenly find their own asses on the line. So if cripples were at the top of the rescue list and the ship hit an iceberg, the rich white guys on board would face two courses of action. A: They could pretend to be crippled. Suddenly they all start limping or bumping into walls like they’re blind. Or they mug cripples like me, throw us out of our wheelchairs and hijack them. Some, no doubt, would elect to go that route. Or, B: They could resort to the power of rationalization. In other words, sway public opinion by cranking the old propaganda machine up to full blast. The libertarians would lead the way, standing on the soapbox and arguing that whereas saving the weakest and most vulnerable is a commendable idea, it is too simplistic of a worldview. It ignores the most immutable fact of human nature, which is that those who have acquired the most have necessarily worked the hardest. These are the humans to which we are all most beholden. But if we force rich white men to the back of the rescue line we are punishing success and that’s un-American! What’s next, sharia law? Our rescue priority must be job creators first!

Where I live, the doorperson in the lobby has a list of the seven or eight cripples living my building so if a big fire breaks out the firefighters know where to go to rescue us. I just hope the firefighter assigned to rescue me isn’t a libertarian.

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Befuddled by Cripples

At a lot of airports now they have those trains that go from terminal to terminal and the train doesn’t even have a driver. There are no humans in charge anywhere. Those trains really stress the hell out of me. I feel like I’m hurdling toward hell.

Because last time I rode one of those trains was in Denver and it was packed full like a cattle car. The cheery, disembodied, female computer voice said, “Arriving at terminal C.” When the doors opened, I waited for the pack of walking humans on board to leave before attempting my exit. But the doors closed in the middle of my egress and clamped down on my wheelchair like a giant, vertical, steel alligator jaw. And the doors wouldn’t let go. And then the cheery, disembodied, female computer voice bitched me out: “Please stop blocking the door! You’re holding up this train!” And then I swear she said, “You damn cripples are such a pain in the ass! Why do they even let you people out in public?” That’s probably not what she said, but that’s what it felt like.

The jaws stopped trying to devour me just long enough for me to shoot out onto the platform. The train sped away. But that’s what happens when there are no humans in charge. A human train engineer would have seen a cripple trapped in the door and would have thought on his/her feet and flipped the emergency door opener switch or something. But computers don’t improvise. And when they encounter a situation they aren't programmed to deal with, such as a cripple trapped in the door, they either panic or shut down. I don’t blame them. I react the same way in those circumstances. But it still stresses me out.

But I guess I’d better get used to it. The potential for computers and robots to put working-class humans on the permanent unemployment line is limitless and we can’t stand in the way of progress. And no matter how well computers and robots are programmed to deal with every potential customer service scenario, it’s inevitable that sooner or later they will be befuddled by a cripple. Because that’s how cripples are. Just when humans think we’ve got every possible scenario figured out, along come the cripples.

And it won’t be just train engineers out of work. I go to my neighborhood CVS drug store at least once a week. So far all the employees there are human. And after one of them rings me up, he/she comes around and gets my cash out of a pouch attached to the side of my wheelchair. I can’t do it myself. The humans know the routine but what happens if I go to CVS next week and all the employees are robots wearing blue polo shirts and CVS nametags with names on them like Org or Blip? When I ask a robot to come around and get my money out of my pouch, I’m sure it won’t be programmed for that so it’ll just stand there with a befuddled robot look on its stupid robot face. And it won’t do me any good to demand to speak to a supervisor because it'll also be a robot so it won’t have a clue either. So I’ll probably say screw it and just take my stuff and try to leave without paying. But then the robot security rent-a-cop will grab me and arrest me. Nothing good can come of this driverless train stuff.

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Thank God I'm not Autistic

I’ll tell you which cripples I really feel sorry for. I feel really really sorry for autistic people. If I was one of them, I don’t think I could bear it. I’d probably stay home all day and hide in the closet. And because I feel really really sorry for autistic people, that means I also really really admire them equally as much. When I see them out there trying to make their way in the world in spite of the tremendous obstacles they face, I’m humbled by their courage.

Because whereas all cripples have to deal with a lot of shit, it seems like autistic people have to deal with a wider variety of shit than the rest of us. Like for instance, I bet they’re all sick to death of having to straighten out people who confuse autistic and artistic. “So you’re artistic, huh? Well, not me. I can’t draw a straight line.” I bet autistic people started referring to themselves as being on the autism spectrum because they all got sick to death straightening out people who confuse autistic and artistic.

Amputees and paraplegics don’t have to deal with shit like that because amputee and paraplegic don’t sound like anything else. And I bet the amount of shit autistic people have to deal with increased exponentially after that movie Rain Man came out. When I see that movie, I thank God I’m not autistic. Because if I was autistic I’d be constantly afraid of being a victim of mistaken identity. I’d be worried somebody would see me on the street and say to his buddy, “Look, it’s a Rain Man.” And then his buddy would say, “Hey Rain Man, what’s 4327 times 986032?” And my response would probably be, “4327 times 986032 equals fuck off.” Those two guys would then go around for the rest of their lives thinking every Rain Man is an asshole, which I guess wouldn’t be a totally bad thing.

But the worst shit autistic people have to deal with must be listening to people who swear up and down that vaccines cause autism. First, it’s b.s. But second, what these people are essentially saying is they don’t what to vaccinate their kids because they’d rather risk their kids dying of measles or whatever than living with autism. What the hell is that all about?

I don’t have that problem because so far no one has asserted that you can contract that which makes me crippled via vaccines. Thank God for that. At least I can cross that off of my shit-I-have-to-deal-with list.

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Inflatable Sex Doll Ethical Dilemma

The older I get, the more grateful I am that I am not into inflatable sex dolls. I count myself very fortunate in that regard.

Because, like many cripples, the older I get the more crippled I become and the less I can do for myself. And one thing that sucks about losing mobility is that you also lose a lot of privacy. Like for instance, since I now need help writing checks to pay my bills and such, the people who help me write checks know all about what’s in my bank accounts. Not that there are any shocking revelations there, but still.

And this makes me wonder about my crippled brethren who are into inflatable sex dolls. I’m sure there must be some out there. Because there must be millions of people out there who are into inflatable sex dolls otherwise whomever it is that manufactures them wouldn’t keep manufacturing them. And since you find cripples in every segment of society, in every walk of life, then it follows that there must be a fair number of cripples who are into inflatable sex dolls. Why should we be any different?

And so, being the empathetic person that I am, I put myself in their position. And I think about how in my youth, if I had been into inflatable sex dolls, I would have been physically able to execute the whole operation independently. And nobody would ever know the difference.

But not so anymore. These days, even if I purchased an inflatable sex doll discreetly over the internet, I would need one of my workers to open the box. And I’m sure I would need my worker to inflate her, too, though I’m confident I could still execute the next phase independently. And if my doll sprung a leak along the way, I would need my worker to patch it.

So then I ask myself how I would react if I was one of my workers and I was faced with this ethical dilemma. First I’d weigh the legalities. It’s probably against some law somewhere to assist in inflating the sex doll of someone on public assistance. Inflating sex dolls is probably not on the list of authorized Medicaid tasks my workers may perform, though I suppose one could argue that it could fall under miscellaneous. But beyond all that, I’d like to think I’d be open-minded about it. I’d like to think I’d remind myself that I’m here to serve and not to judge. And nobody is getting hurt so why not?

But then again I might think the whole thing is just too damn creepy and quit.

I know myself. Fearing the latter reaction, if I was into inflatable sex dolls, I would not be able bring myself to ask my trusted and loyal assistants to inflate my doll for me. I’d resign myself to giving up this pursuit and I’d quietly mourn another loss that comes with the advancing of crippledness. But I’m not into inflatable sex dolls so why am I even thinking about this? There must be something seriously wrong with me. Sorry I dragged you through all that.

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ahab Cripples

I’ve often been accused of being an Ahab cripple. Ahab cripples are those cripples who are bitter because they’re crippled and want to take it out on the rest of world.

These cripples are like Captain Ahab from Moby Dick. Ahab is pissed at Moby Dick for biting his leg off. So he drags other people into his obsessive quest to hunt down and kill the whale and thus get revenge. But the thing is, as far as I can tell, Ahab cripples are fictitious. I’ve never met one. Because first off, it’s pretty pointless. In Moby Dick, Ahab loses in the end when the whale drags him into the water and he drowns. But suppose Ahab succeeded in skewering the hell out of the beast, dragging it on board and running it up the flagpole in triumph. So what. He’d still be crippled. So what’s the point? I mean maybe if capturing the whale and drinking its blood would’ve grown Ahab’s leg back I might be able to buy it.

But I’ve never met anybody who, for instance, became crippled because they were run over by a car and was obsessed with finding that car and setting it on fire. And yet this notion that civilization is crawling with Ahab cripples persists and I think it’s largely because of Moby Dick. Don’t get me wrong. Moby Dick is a great book. I’ve got nothing against it. Some of my best friends have read Moby Dick. But I’m tempted to rewrite it just to try to counteract some of the bitter cripple shit.

First, instead of a whale, I’d turn Moby Dick into a chipmunk. And the story goes that Ahab is out jogging or something and suddenly an albino chipmunk shoots across his path and Ahab slips on it and falls like on a banana peel and somehow he loses his leg as a result. So he drags others into his obsessive quest to hunt down and kill the chipmunk. Moby Dick would then be a silly parody of bitter cripple revenge.

Or I might make the story more reality-based by introducing a twist where, after losing his leg, Ahab meets a good, ruthless cripple lawyer. Cripple lawyers are those lawyers that help people get hefty financial settlements after they become crippled. This would have given Ahab a much more productive outlet for his rage. He’d just have to sign the papers, sit back and let the cripple lawyer do the rest. A good, ruthless cripple lawyer will always find somebody to sue no matter what. In a case like Ahab’s, the cripple lawyer would probably sue SeaWorld for not capturing the whale before it could hurt somebody.

Cripples of the 21st Century don’t need to go on hell-bent vengeance rampages. We have cripple lawyers. Cripples are like everybody else. When we feel like we’ve got justice, we don’t need revenge.

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Monday, September 7, 2015

A Witness to Torture

The last time I visited someone in a nursing home I was horrified by what I saw going on. I was literally a witness to torture.

The friend I was visiting was in bed, his wheelchair parked alongside. In the next bed was who knows who. It was his latest new roommate. That’s how it is works when you live in a nursing home. You’re sitting there minding your own business and all of a sudden they install a new roommate whom you don’t know from your mail carrier’s cousin.

The roommate was deep asleep. And appearing on the television that was mounted high on the wall on his side of the room was one of those daytime courtroom shows with a super annoying and arrogant judge. And it was blaring so goddam loud you could probably hear it all the way in Kansas.

My friend said this new roommate blasts these judge shows all day. And my friend can’t get himself out of bed so he was stuck. And try pushing the nurse call button when you’re in a nursing home and see how long it takes to get an answer. And if you do get an answer, try telling them that you need them to come turn off that maddening judge show before you go berserk and see how long it takes them to come.

So there was no way my friend could avoid prolonged exposure to judge shows. It was like being locked in the waiting room of a Jiffy Lube. I submit that this is torture. Okay, maybe it's not physical torture, like having your eyelids stretched back over the top of your head. But it is psychological torture. Or at least it would be for me if I was in my friend’s position. Because what is the point of torture? To break somebody down, right? And so I started thinking about what if I suddenly had some Joe-off-the-street roommate installed in my home and he insisted on blasting daytime judge shows all day. I’d crack pretty damn quick. After about 30 minutes I’d be confessing to all kinds of shit I didn’t do! “Yes I kidnapped the Lindbergh baby! I’ll tell you where Jimmy Hoffa is buried! Anything! Just TURN THAT SHIT OFF!!!!”

The whole terrible scene really shook me up big time. When my friend’s dinner tray arrived, I said good-bye. I quickly left before he could lift the lid and see what was on his plate. I’d seen enough torture for one day.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Rescue Cripples

That old dog in my neighborhood is still out and about. Every time I see him out on his walk he’s moving slower and slower. His walker walks about three strides ahead, looking back, the leash stretched fully taught behind him as the old dog tries diligently tries to keep up at a pace that vaguely resembles an amble.

Whenever I see that dog here’s what I say to myself: There's that poor old dog again. I’m amazed he’s still going! Look how he struggles. I wonder why somebody doesn’t put him to sleep.

And then I wonder if maybe some of my neighbors think the same thing about me when they see me out and about. Because sometimes I imagine I’m a pathetic sight to them indeed, struggling to drive my wheelchair over rough and uneven pavement. I especially struggle in winter when being bundled up makes feel like I’m bound in a straitjacket. My pace is slow and choppy. My companion walks about three strides ahead, looking back. And I wonder if this is what some of my neighbors think when they see me: There's that poor old cripple again. I’m amazed he’s still going! Look how he struggles. I wonder why somebody doesn’t put him to sleep.

And when I see that old dog it sparks this ethical debate in my head. It challenges my liberal sensibilities. I think about all kinds of deep stuff like quality of life and personal autonomy and the extent of society’s responsibility to take care of a lame old dog. I say to myself, But then again, who am I to say that somebody ought to put that old dog to sleep? I mean, he looks like he’s still enjoying himself. His tail is up. So I guess it’s not cruel to keep him alive.

Do my neighbors have the same ethical debate when they see me? He looks like he’s still enjoying himself. His head is up. So I guess it’s not cruel to keep him alive.

And from there on it’s the same debate I have in my head about the dog, except my neighbors substitute cripple for dog: Well isn’t it nice that that old cripple has someone who’s willing to take care of him and take him out like that. If that old cripple was loose alone on the streets, as lame as he is, then calling the authorities to come get him and put him to sleep would be the ethical thing to do. But as long as someone is willing to make the financial and emotional sacrifice it takes to keep an old cripple like that going, I proudly say more power to them, as long as it doesn’t cost me anything. It’s good that there are people in this world who take in rescue cripples.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Way Too Seriously

I stay away from most theme restaurants because they might take the theme way too seriously and then I’ll be screwed.

Like for instance, take the Rainforest Café. There are few environments more inhospitable to cripples than a real live rainforest. So if the inside of the Rainforest Café is anything like a real live rainforest, then right when I enter my wheels will get stuck in the mud and I’ll be trapped and soon a giant bird of prey will eat me.

One would think that laws protect me from such things happening. But who knows for sure? It seems safe to assume that this deep into the 21st Century, a manmade rainforest would be required to have ramps and elevators and paved paths and automatic doors and such. But then again, maybe theme purity trumps access in the eyes of the law because like I said, some people take that theme stuff way too seriously. If you’ve ever been to a Star Wars-themed anything you know what I mean. If everybody else is meticulously dressed like a Noogie or whatever and you show up wearing a polo shirt and khakis, you will be the object of relentless scorn. When you fuck up the vibe you stir up the mob.

And cripples fuck up the vibe in a lot of theme restaurants. So maybe the Rainforest Café is “grandfathered,” as they say, meaning they are exempt from altering their theme to accommodate someone the likes of me. Or maybe they just assume they are “grandfathered.” There isn’t a cripple alive who hasn’t found him/herself in a situation where they couldn’t enter a place of business and the proprietor came out and said, “I’m sorry but we’re grandfathered!” I don’t know why so many proprietors think the legislatures amended the cripple access laws to specifically exempt only them.

And there’s a 1950s-themed restaurant near here, too. It’s got a jukebox and a soda fountain. It’s pretentiously unpretentious. Everything about it is authentic 1950s except the prices. That place is probably allowed to grandfather me right out of the door. Because you never saw cripples hanging around 1950s diners. That was before cripples were invented. So cripples fuck up the vibe. If I can enter that place at all it’ll probably be through the kitchen.

And the scariest theme restaurant of all is this place out on the interstate called Medieval Times. At that place people eat turkey legs and mashed potatoes with their bare hands and from a golden chalice they drink Mead and Budweiser. I’m afraid if I go to that place and they take the theme too seriously, as soon as I enter somebody will say something like, “Fi! Who art that evil creature riding a machine powered by Satan!” And then they’ll burn me at the stake.

I suppose if anyone ever opens a nursing home-themed restaurant I’ll be warmly welcomed. But if they take the theme too seriously they’ll never let me leave.

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Revelation at the Funeral Parlor

I’d never done anything like this before. I’d never found myself suddenly in charge of planning someone’s funeral, selecting their casket and everything.

So there I am at the funeral parlor and the funeral director adds up the tab. He presents it to me. I look. The funeral will cost about $10,000.

“Is that all right?” he says, apologetically.

Here’s what I said to myself right at that minute: You should hold out! You should say no, $10,000 is NOT all right. What’s he gonna do about it? Last night in the middle of the night his people came out to your dead relative's home, lifted her out of her bed, placed her on a gurney, slid her into their vehicle and brought her here. What if you say $10,000 isn’t all right? Will he do it in reverse? Will he have his people take her back home and put her back in bed? He can’t do that, can he? You should call his bluff and see what happens! But what if he does do that? Then you’ll really be screwed! You don’t have any negotiation power here. He’s got you by the scrotum. He has your dead relative as a hostage.

This feeling of powerlessness really sucks. But wait, something positive is emerging from this. You’re about to have a valuable revelation. Yep, I can feel one coming on! I think it’s gonna be a big one so hang on tight! You’ve felt this powerlessness often before except, unlike now, it usually has something to do with you feeling powerless because you're crippled, right? That’s why you hate Tiny Tim so much! He’s the symbol of the ultimate powerless cripple. The only negotiating chip Tiny Tim has is pity. All he can say is, “If you don’t give me the money to get the special operation that will make me not crippled anymore I’ll die and you’ll look like a real asshole!” Do you really want to try that one with the funeral director? “Well I guess $10,000 is okay. I’ll just have to forego getting the special operation that will make me not crippled anymore and I’ll die. But that’s okay. Don't mind me.” Do you really want to lower yourself to that?

Having pity as your only leverage sucks because a shrewd opponent can easily counter it with mercy killing: “I’m sorry that your life is so miserable. Here, let me do you a favor by smothering you.” And voila, your shrewd opponent makes no concessions at all and still comes out looking like a wonderful human being. Checkmate! That’s why pity sucks. Pity isn’t really power.

But here’s where the revelation comes in. Next time someone asks what all you angry cripples want, you finally have a clear answer! You can tell them cripples want the same thing every human wants. Cripples want the power to negotiate. Humans get restless and ornery when they have no say in what’s going on, no control over the future. Humans don’t like it when another human has them by the scrotum, so to speak. Cripples, being humans, are the same way.

All this shot through my head in the five seconds or so between when the funeral director asked me if $10,000 was all right and I replied, “Yes, it’s fine.”

I didn’t exactly play hardball. But at least I learned something.

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Crippled Enough to Collect

I’m thinking about finally applying to collect some of that cripple Social Security I’ve been paying into for all these years. But I’m afraid.

I’m afraid the Social Security people will decide I’m not crippled enough to qualify to collect cripple Social Security. You would think that if anyone is crippled enough to qualify to collect, it would be me, right? But not necessarily. Because over the past few decades, many dedicated advocates have tirelessly campaigned to prove to the world that if given the opportunity, cripples are capable of performing just about any job. And in so doing they may have fucked things up for the rest of us.

Because in order to collect cripple Social Security, you can’t just be crippled. Oh no. You have to be so crippled that you are unable to work. That means, according to Social Security standards, that you can longer do whatever work that you did previously and you also cannot transition into doing any other kind of work.

Well hell, if you insist on being that picky about it, then maybe nobody is crippled enough to collect cripple Social Security anymore. Because, theoretically, even cripples who are in a permanent vegetative state can work, if given the opportunity. They can get jobs as casino greeters. We can park them in their gurneys right inside the entrance and hang signs around their necks that say WELCOME TO THE CASINO.

And also over the past few decades, miraculous advances in technology have made it possible for just about every cripple to work, dammit. Pretty much every cripple can operate a computer. I’ve seen news stories about cripples who can’t move or talk or do anything but blink but if you put this special high-tech skullcap on their heads they can operate a computer with their brainwaves. So these cripples can probably do data entry, if given the opportunity.

And of course everybody knows about legendary, inspiring crippled role models like Stephen Hawking and Helen Keller. They prove that you are never too crippled to be productive. So I’m afraid I’ll go to the Social Security office and the Social Security people will be inspired by these great role models to turn me down for cripple Social Security and tell me to go get a job as a casino greeter.

Being crippled no longer comes with the automatic assumption that we are unable to work. What a pain in the ass that is.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Racist Clowns

Apparently there was a law passed way back when requiring every racist to wear a clown suit whenever they go out in public. That would explain why they dress as ridiculously as they do.

I’ve seen pictures. They drape themselves with white sheets that look like cheap-ass homemade Halloween ghost costumes. But before they don the sheets I guess they put on those hats like the pope wears and this makes them look like cheap-ass Halloween ghosts with skulls shaped like arrowheads. The racist clown suit looks exaggerated, absurd and ominous so as to distinguish the racist clowns from the regular clowns

In the light of history, the purpose of this law is clear. Racists tend to be unhappy, unpleasant people. So it’s in the public interest to make them easy to identify in case you want to avoid them. It’s like tying tin cans to the legs of a rabid wolf to warn the villagers of its approach. And so if one wishes to escape racism, which is a reasonable sentiment, all one has to do is flee to an area where no one wears these racist clown suits. That’s why in previous decades, African Americans from the south moved north to places like here in Chicago. I never saw a real live person wearing a racist clown suit up here so that means there is absolutely no racism here.

The clown suit laws are also useful in helping us quantify the progress we are making as a nation regarding race relations. It’s simple arithmetic. How many people are wearing racist clown suits this year? Now compare that to the number of people who wore racist clown suits last year. If the number of people wearing racist clown suits today is less than the number that wore them last year, then we are a less racist nation. It’s encouraging to see, when applying this standard of measurement, that we have reached the point in America where racism has practically disappeared!

I personally also find that the racist clown suit law helps me reflect within myself when it comes to my own racism, which is something we all must do. Sometimes, when there’s so much talk of racism in the news, I wonder if I could possibly be racist. So I ask myself if I wear a racist clown suit. And the answer is always a resounding no! Not in any way, shape or form! Therefore, I know that I could not possibly be racist. Not in any way, shape or form!

And then I feel a lot better.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

The Cripple Nobility Spectrum

All cripples are noble. Society deems it to be so, so it is so.

This means that if you are or become crippled, along with it comes an automatic assumption of exalted moral character. This nobility cannot be renounced. It’s part of the package, whether we like it or not. But it can be squandered. And not all cripples are equally noble. Some are nobler than others. And the nobler we are, the more charity society is willing to bestow upon us.

For the status of noblest of the noble, it’s pretty much a tie between crippled war vets and Down syndromes types. War vets are noble because they became crippled in such a selfless and heroic manner. Down syndrome types are noble because they’re just so gosh darn innocent. Nobody can speak ill of crippled war vets and Down syndrome types without sounding like a real asshole.

In the middle of the nobility spectrum are physical cripples like me who we’re born this way or acquired our crippledness via disease or unfortunate accident. The noble trait we share with the war vets and Down syndrome types is that we are crippled through no fault of own. But we lose nobility points when pitted against war vets because crippledness just came our way. We didn’t do anything heroic to bring it on. And we can’t compete with the Down syndrome types because whereas yes, technically, we too are innocent, we aren’t gosh darn innocent.

On the next rung down are those who became crippled because they did something stupid or reckless, like somebody who is a quad because they tried to win a bet by skateboarding standing on their head. These cripples are not innocent. They brought crippledness on themselves by taunting it. Also in this category are gangbangers who get shot in a drug deal gone bad and become crippled. No hero point there.

And the least noble of all are the psychologically crippled like schizophrenics. No points for innocence here either. I don’t know why this is. There seems to be this idea that it’s a matter of will, like if you try hard enough and take more personal responsibility you won’t be schizophrenic anymore. Thus, these are the least noble and therefore least sympathetic cripples of all. There are certain times when hordes of cheery volunteers with slotted cans invade the streets of Chicago soliciting funds for this village for Down syndrome types. But I’ve never been approached by a cheery volunteer with a slotted can soliciting funds for schizophrenics.

Nevertheless, we live in a compassionate society where every cripple automatically receives at least some benefit of the doubt and some degree of nobility. We squander it by acting uppity. And the less nobility we have the easier it is to squander. All schizophrenics have to do is say boo and that’s it, no more sympathy for you guys! On the other hand, if the Down syndrome types wanted to squander their vast reserves of nobility, it would pretty much require a million of them marching on Washington and taking a shit in unison on the White House lawn. The same is true for war vets. If that ever happened, then it would finally be socially acceptable to speak ill of them without sounding like a real asshole. And no more cheery volunteers with slotted cans.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Why Cripples Shouldn't Get Restaurant Discounts

Old people get a lot of free or discount shit just for being old, as if they did anything to achieve that status other than not die. Cripples also get some free or discount shit just for being crippled, even though some of us achieved our status by doing stupid stuff, like diving drunk and naked into a shallow creek.

But old people get a whole lot more free and discount shit than cripples do. It’s no contest. Like restaurants give old people discounts all the time but I’ve never been to a restaurant that offered a cripple discount.

At first it doesn’t seem fair but when you look at it from a business perspective, it makes sense. Offering discounts to cripples could open a nightmarish Pandora’s Box. Old people are much more cut and dried than cripples. It’s much easier to tell who they are. They look a certain way and if you’re not sure if they’re old enough you can check their IDs. Case closed

But with cripples everything is much fuzzier. Like suppose an albino walks into a restaurant and demands the cripple discount. Is an albino crippled? A reasonable person would think not but you never know these days. There’s probably a court case somewhere where an albino sued for discrimination and won a million bucks. So every restaurant owner will have to have a law degree just to keep track of who’s legally crippled and who’s not. And what about keeping track of all the correct language? Is it okay to ask an albino if they are indeed an albino or do you have to call them something like pigmentally-challenged?

And it’s hard to fake being an old person. I suppose if someone wanted 10 percent off on a tuna melt or a free dessert bad enough they could put on a gray wig and make their voice all creaky and get an underground fake ID that says they were born in 1935. But any joker off the street can hop into a wheelchair in a flash and pretend to be paralyzed. It isn’t hard for somebody to pretend to be deaf and do some voodoo sign language by waving their arms around like they're being attacked by bees. About the only cripples you can trust to be authentic are the Down syndrome ones. That’s pretty hard to fake. But you can’t even be sure about that these days. I’ve read stories about kinky people who think it’s cool to be crippled so they have a surgeon saw off one of their limbs or something to make them crippled. It’s like getting sexual reassignment surgery. So there are probably some really kinky people out there who think it’s cool to have Down syndrome so they have a surgeon inject an additional chromosome into them and it turns them into a Down syndrome. Hey, stranger things have happened.

A fake old person can be easily exposed by sneaking up behind them and snatching off their wig. But suppose a suspicious restaurateur sneaks up behind a cripple and dumps him/her out of their wheelchair. What if it turns out to be a real cripple? There’s one whopper of a lawsuit right there.

So that’s why cripples shouldn’t get restaurant discounts. It would lead to economic chaos and the collapse of Western civilization

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Another Cutting-Edge Innovation from Smart Ass Cripple

People come up with a lot of cutting-edge innovations that are supposed to make life easier for cripples. But there’s usually a catch. Like for instance, I once saw a guy demonstrating this robotic arm that you can attach to your wheelchair and if you couldn’t use your arms anymore this arm could perform all the essential functions of the arms and hands for you. Two problems: First, it cost something like $40,000. And B, the hand was not designed to give the finger. So I don’t know how this guy could claim that his invention performed all the essential functions of the arms and hands when it couldn’t even give the finger. I should have reported him to the FDA.

But I had a brilliant idea recently for a cutting-edge innovation that I know, based on my extensive experience as a cripple, will really and truly make life easier for millions of cripples worldwide. And I hope some visionary venture capitalist or hedge fund hedgehog will see the universal usefulness of my cutting-edge innovation and put gobs of cash behind developing it.

My idea is a designated driver smart phone app for cripples. There have been times when I’ve had a few too many and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to drive home. I’m not talking about driving my car. I’m talking about driving my wheelchair. Now this isn’t too much of a problem for cripples in wheelchairs that they push themselves. If they're shit-faced, somebody else can just push them home. But it’s a serious problem for those of us who use motorized wheelchairs. These things are a bitch to push. So cripples who download this app would pay a monthly subscription fee but it will bring them great peace of mind knowing that if they reach the point where they can’t drive home, all they have to do is tap the app. And then a designated driver will be promptly dispatched to their location whereupon this driver will sit on the drunken cripple’s lap and drive their wheelchair home.

These designated drivers will receive extensive training in wheelchair operation. Most everybody who has never driven a motorized wheelchair thinks any old mope can just hop in one and take off. That’s what they think until they actually try to drive one and immediately proceed to smash a hole in the wall. It takes time and practice to learn how to drive a motorized wheelchair, especially whilst perched upon its passed out occupant.

Go ahead and laugh. But I’ll have the last hearty laugh five years from now when the sight of designated drivers sitting on the laps of wasted cripples and piloting them home is commonplace. And who’ll be the one laughing when my cutting-edge innovation wins me the Nobel Fucking Peace Prize, huh?

So okay now all you visionary venture capitalists and hedge fund hedgehogs out there. It’s your move.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

The Saddest Cripple in the Coop

The ushers put that poor young woman here in the cripple coop with the rest of us. And the look on her face says, “Where the hell am I? How the hell did I end up in a place like this?”

The cripple coop is the new wheelchair section in the new bleachers at Wrigley Field. And I call it a coop because for some reason they put this black screen all around it. So the view sucks. It’s like trying to watch a game while wearing a fencing mask.

I can tell the young woman is a cripple of the temporary variety. Her wheelchair is the standard-issue institutional model, as sleek and maneuverable as a covered wagon. Her leg is in a cast and it’s jacked up straight out in front of her. She has two female companions but none of them look happy. It looks like some sort of somber bachelorette party.

This is why out of all the endless varieties of cripples, I find temporary cripples to be the saddest of all. They experience the bad stuff that comes with being crippled without any of the good stuff. Like for instance, she’s probably the only cripple here in the coop who can’t get a license to smoke pot legally. In Illinois, possession of just about any crippling condition makes you eligible for medical marijuana, everything from traumatic brain injury to irritable bowel syndrome. But temporary cripples need not apply.

The same goes for Social Security. She’s probably the only cripple in the coop who isn’t eligible for free money. If she could be crippled long enough to qualify for stuff like this she might not be so sad. Some people think legal pot and free money is all anyone needs in life.

So when this woman is up and walking again, she’ll say to her friends, “I know what it’s like to be crippled and believe me, it’s hell!” When she returns to the bleachers she’ll look down on the cripple coop and she’ll thank God she was one of the lucky ones able to escape.

But here’s another valuable lesson about being crippled the poor woman won’t be crippled long enough to learn: It pays to bitch. Rahnee and I bitched. We told the ushers that watching baseball through a dark screen is giving us carsick headaches. We want more out of life than legal pot and Social Security. We want a good view at the ballpark, too

So the ushers took us to a secluded corner of the bleachers which we could have all to ourselves. It had a clear, clean view. We were happy.

Walking out of life's many cripple coops isn’t the only way out. You can also bitch your way out.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fuck You, Stigma

I decided it was high time for there to be a Smart Ass Cripple Pride Day. So I ran the idea through the proper approval channels here at Smart Ass Cripple, which means I put it before our one-person politburo consisting of me. I unanimously agreed with myself that this is a marvelous idea.

I also thought that there needs to be some sort of pithy, unifying theme for Smart Ass Cripple Pride Day. So I sponsored an essay contest inviting all elementary school kids to propose a theme for Smart Ass Cripple Pride Day. Well the response was overwhelming but the winning essay was submitted by 7-year-old Billy Hart, who attends Larry Fine Elementary School in El Paso, North Dakota. Here is what he wrote:

“My neighbor, Johnny, is my friend. He is in a wheelchair. But sometimes people treat Johnny different than they treat me. They don’t want to talk to him or they talk to him like he’s a baby. People are afraid of Johnny just because he’s in a wheelchair. Sometimes I go places and Johnny can’t go because he’s in a wheelchair and there are stairs. My mother says Johnny is treated unfairly because of something called stigma. Stigma is stupid. So I think a good theme for Smart Ass Cripple Pride Day would be Fuck You, Stigma.”

What a brilliant, perceptive kid, eh? It boosts my faith in the youth of America. So for penning the winning essay, Billy wins a free FUCK YOU, STIGMA t-shirt. He may only be in elementary school but he sure knows a helluva lot about stigma and how it works. He knows that the only way to deal with stigma is to poke it in the eyes. Duking it out with stigma is exhausting because stigma is a vicious, insecure little bastard that will defend its turf at all costs. It’ll kick you right square in the nuts if you turn your head for a second. So you have to be ready to kick it right back. There’s no negotiating with stigma. And you can’t run off and hide from it in a closest somewhere because that’s exactly what stigma wants you to do. You give it credence. If you run off and hide, stigma wins. Nope, the only way to subdue stigma is to relentlessly give it the finger.

So thank you, Billy, for creating the perfect theme for Smart Ass Cripple Pride Day. Now, on Smart Ass Cripple Pride Day, smart ass cripples and their friends and allies all over the world will proudly take to the streets, marching under giant banners and riding on festive floats that say FUCK YOU, STIGMA.

Some people may be offended by this but hell with them if they are. Anybody who doesn’t like it is a dirty stinkin’ stigma lover.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Chopped Liver

I’m insulted! I pass by this storefront that stands out from all the others surrounding it because the outside bricks are painted a bright and blaring yellow. The flashing neon letters in the window announce like an ecstatic town crier that this is an establishment where one can receive a car title loan. And painted on the yellow bricks, in letters that are invitingly cursive and also black so as to provide easy-to-read contrast, are the words Yo Hablo Espanol.

So since this is a title loan store, that means the target demographic is people who are so broke ass that all they have to their name is a raggedy-ass beater of a car. So in this case, what the words Yo Hablo Espanol essentially say is, “Welcome all our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters who have nothing but a raggedy-ass beater of a car to their name. Please come in. We’ll be happy to ream you, too.”

But on the front entrance of the store is a great big step. And that’s why I am insulted. The proprietor sees Spanish speakers as a market worthy of accommodation and affirmative gestures of welcome. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t begrudge them the equal opportunity to be exploited when their circumstances get about as low as low can be. That’s all part of the American dream. But what about cripples? What are we, chopped liver? Apparently if this proprietor thinks about cripples at all, he/she sees us as so thoroughly and irreparably broke ass that for us, owning a raggedy-ass beater of a car is but a pipedream. No need for a ramp on this storefront.

This is yet another graphic example of how insignificant cripples are to some people in the capitalist free market. Well whatever. They snub us at their own peril. Someday a new breed of shark will evolve with a highly-sophisticated olfactory that can sniff out fresh new blood. And then we’ll see a new chain of stores designed exclusively to reel in the really really really broke ass. These stores will be in strip malls around the country, nestled cozily between Dollar Tree and Dollar General and kitty-corner from The Dollar Store. They will be called something like The Social Security Store and their sole purpose will be to give cash advances on Social Security checks.

These stores will be accessible as all hell. There will be automatic doors. There will be sign language interpreters on duty 24/7. There will be a fenced-off area in every store with fake grass so guide dogs can take a leak.

Yep, the proprietors of these stores will have to kiss up to cripples big time, unless they want to go out of business real fast.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Just Another White Guy

A lot of times I’ve heard cripples say being crippled makes them feel invisible. But I don’t know about that. I think I’d feel way more invisible if I wasn’t crippled. Because if I wasn’t crippled I would be just another white guy. That’s a depressing prospect to me. I just don’t know if I would want to go on living if that was the case. It would take some major getting used to.

If I was just another white guy, I wouldn’t enjoy myself nearly as much when I go to Washington, D.C. to protest for my rights. Whenever I join other cripples protesting in Washington, D.C., in the lobby of our hotel there are hundreds of cripples zipping around. Also staying in the hotel there’s always a pack of high school students from Middleville, Ohio on a field trip. I’m always amused at the puzzled looks on their faces when they see us all, especially when they find themselves packed into an elevator with sweaty cripples returning from a day of protesting in the sun. I picture these youths returning to Middleville and someone asks them what they saw on their life-changing trip to our nation’s capital. And even though they saw the capitol and all the monuments and had lunch in the Rose Garden with the president and the pope, I picture that the first thing they say is, “You should’ve seen all the cripples in our hotel! There must’ve been a million of them!”

Cripples have that effect on people. Whenever a half dozen or so of us congregate, it looks like 600 of us. So if I want to organize a Million Cripple March, this is a distinct advantage because I don’t have to turn out a million cripples. All I need is about 20 or 30. And the news reports will say, “Police estimate the crowd to be about 2 or 3 million!”

If I was just another white guy and I wanted to organize a Million White Guy March, I’d have to turn out a million white guys or more. Of course one could argue that there is no need for a Million White Guy March. Point well taken. Whenever I walk down State Street, there are always people who stop pedestrians and say, “Excuse me, have you got a minute to help abandoned children?” Or to help LGBT youth or orca whales or whatever. No one ever says, “Excuse me, have you got a minute to help white guys?” There’s no need. One could also argue that a million white guys descend upon D.C. regularly. It’s part of a daily event known as the normal course of business.

And one could additionally argue that if I was just another white guy I wouldn’t have to go to D.C. at all to protest for my rights. Precisely! And that’s my point. Look at all the fun I’d miss out on. I know there are many guys who are just another white guy but still manage to live fun and fulfilling lives. To that I say hey, more power to them. But it ain’t the life for me. But I’m not about to be cured any time soon so I guess I can stop worrying about it.

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