Thursday, October 31, 2019

My Amazing Display of Courage

What makes me nuts more than just about anything else are those news stories about cripples who rise from their wheelchairs and walk across the stage to receive their diplomas or walk down the aisle to get married or that kind of stuff. It's so insulting.

There ought to be a law where any journalist who puts out a story like that has to face a firing squad. And they can’t get out of it by blaming it on the editor or producer who assigned them to do it. You can’t just throw up your hands and say, “I was only following orders” and expect immunity when you commit an atrocity. Complicity is as damaging as instigation.

The crippled protagonists of these stories are always gushingly praised for showing such great courage. But how come it never works the other way around? How come there’s never a story about a cripple who bravely rolled across the graduation stage or down the aisle in their wheelchair? Because that takes a helluva lot more courage. Everybody’s expecting this cripple to spend a zillion hours working out in the physical therapy gym just so she/he can rise up and take a few halting steps so everybody else can applaud and cry soap opera tears of joy. And that cripple has to have the balls and self-confidence to say fuck all that. I’m not ashamed to be crippled.

This summer I was invited to be the commencement speaker at the state boarding school for cripples from which I graduated in 1974, which I call the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT). I call it SHIT because the quality of the education was so dismal that I am perhaps their greatest success story. How sad is that?

At the time, I was just breaking in my new blower, which is what I call the attachment that enables me to operate my motorized wheelchair hands-free by inhaling or exhaling into a straw. I got it because it's becoming increasingly difficult for me to drive my chair with my hand, especially in cold weather and on inhospitable outdoor terrain. I thought about using my hand to drive up the microphone, since the graduation was indoors in a flat, smooth gym. But then I said to myself, “What the hell are you thinking?” This was my chance to be an antidote for that horrifying brave walking cripple cliché. So I drove up to the microphone using my blower.

I doubt that I’ll get married again but if by some strange twist I do, I’ll damn sure go down the aisle using my blower. And if I ever win the Nobel Prize or anything like that, when I come up to make my acceptance speech I’ll proudly use my blower.

Before I gave that commencement address, I should have sent out a press release about how a local cripple was going to display his amazing courage at a graduation by using his blower. But I'm sure nobody would’ve covered it.

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