Monday, October 7, 2019

Barred from Bars

I went to a bar and had a frustrating epiphany. This bar was newly-constructed and a lengthy section of it was about half as high as the rest of it. There were removable chairs at that section instead of high stools.

In other words, that section of the bar was intentionally constructed at cripple height. I could roll right up to that section and sit at the bar. And I got real excited about it because even though I go to bars a lot, I never sit at the actual bar because they’re all about chin high for me. So I just find a table and get served there. And seeing this cripple-high section of bar made me realize how passively I’ve accepted this callous exclusion.

It also hit me how particularly heinous this bit of exclusion is. It has taken a terrible toll. There are some things I have been excluded from for which I believe I am better off, such as churches and Catholic school and military service. But just think about how many important cultural transactions and negotiations take place at bars—everything from sealing business deals to getting laid. Think about all the classic jokes and tales that are told at the bar.

But bars naturally exclude a lot of cripples. They are built at inhospitable heights because, well, that’s the height we’ve always built them at, dammit. It’s tradition! We don’t notice the dearth of cripples at bars because we don’t think of bars as places where cripples want or deserve to be. We don’t think cripples are interested in things like sealing business deals, telling and hearing classic jokes and tales and getting laid.

When I saw that cripple-friendly stretch of bar, I wondered how much of life I’ve missed out on by being excluded from bars. I felt a strong wave of grief. I thought about people who suddenly become crippled and how they mourn lost abilities. A lot are sad because they can no longer walk or stand or whatever. If that was me, I’d probably be most sad about no longer being able to sit at practically every bar.

But rather than stew in paralyzing bitterness about it all, I vowed to take action. What I really should do is get together with like-minded cripples and form an organization with bar access as the only item on our political agenda. We’d picket every bar without a cripple friendly stretch until they all capitulated.

But that takes a lot of time and energy. So what I think I’ll do instead is spend a shitload of time drinking at this bar with the cripple friendly stretch, partaking of bar culture. That’ll keep me busy for a good long time. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

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