Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Sure Thing Cripples on Television

Back in college, my roommates and I entertained ourselves by getting stoned and watching Bowling for Dollars on TV. (Yes, we didn’t have girlfriends.)

Bowling for Dollars was broadcast from a bowling alley in St. Louis. The host was a game show host wannabe. He had all the qualifications—the immaculate coiffure, the gleaming smile, the demeanor of a glad-handing car salesman.

The contestants were local Joes and Janes. Bowl a strike and win $50. Etc.

There once was a crippled contestant. She walked with two metal crutches. She said she had cerebral palsy and was a member of the Handicapped Bowling League. The host told her she was courageous and inspirational and all that stuff. Then came her turn to bowl. She dropped one crutch and picked up a bowling ball.

My roommates and I knew exactly what was coming next. It was a sure thing. You could bet the house on it.

“Gutter balls!” we said.

The crippled girl flung the ball, flat-footed. Gutter ball left. Gutter ball right. But the audience applauded anyway. The host hugged her and said she was still courageous and inspirational and all that stuff. That was a sure thing, too.

And then recently I’m watching a segment from a British TV show that was spreading like a wildfire on the internet. It's one of those singing competitions and there was a contestant who had no hands. The host told him he was courageous and inspirational and all that stuff. The cripple sang the song Imagine and he nailed it. He held the mic with his two stubs and crooned like Crosby. The audience applauded wildly. Many were in tears.

And then the celebrity judges each had to decide whether this cripple would advance to the next round. I knew exactly what was coming next. It was a sure thing. I could bet the house on it.

Each judge said absolutely, positively, unequivocally yes! No shit! What celebrity would risk ruining their career by shooting down a no-handed singer who had triumphed against all odds?

But I was disappointed. I wish the crippled contestant hadn’t let the judges and audience off the hook so easy. Instead of singing so pretty, I wish he had wailed like a moose getting an enema. I bet the judges all would’ve given him thumbs up anyway, just because they felt sorry for him for not having hands and all. It would’ve been fascinating to see how many rounds this cripple would have advanced before some judge would have the balls to put a stop to it or the audience started throwing tomatoes.

I’d tune in every week to see that.

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