Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Holed up Ruminations

Tim’s birthday party was a fine affair. His friends came over and decorated the party room in the basement of his apartment building real nice. About 30 people came. Lots of old friends. Lots of food. Lots of laughs.

That was way way back in those carefree days, when people wantonly mingled and hugged. That was two weeks ago. And now I look back on going to that party with the same consternation as if it had been a cocaine–fueled orgy full of unprotected sex. How could I have engaged in such reckless behavior? Will I soon regret it? Ollie was there. I ran into him a few months back at the Bulls game. He works in the stadium ticket booth. Holy shit! That means he comes in contact with a shitload of people! Was Ollie infected with the virus?

And Donna was there. She hugged me hard! Twice! On the way in and on the way out. Donna is a big time hugger so she might have been infected too because I bet huggers like her are among the most susceptible. Ollie and Donna are upstanding citizens who would never knowingly infect anyone, but that doesn’t mean a damn thing. I mean, the virus infected Tom Hanks for fuck’s sake, just to show us all that it will stop at nothing.

There was leftover pizza so I took it home and ate it. Holy shit again! How could I have been so cavalier? How many infected party guests touched that pizza or breathed all over it or sneezed in its vicinity?

But maybe I dodged that bullet because like I said, that was two weeks ago and they say that two weeks is how long it takes for the virus to get you if it’s gonna get you, maybe, so far as we know so far.

But what about the reckless behaviors I’ve engaged in since then? I went to the grocery store. How many infected people did I brush up against there? How many of them touched that can of beans I bought?

I’m not going to the grocery store anymore, but maybe it’s too little too late. Surely the virus hitched a ride into my home somehow. Why should I be any different from all those other poor saps that got infected? There is no God. The fact that Tom Hanks got infected proved that. Maybe I should call in some of those people who will give your home a deep cleaning. But what if they’re infected?

This is the kind of shit you think about when you’re holed up in the dark all day trying to hide from a virus.

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Sunday, March 15, 2020

Proactive Ramps

When I drive through my boyhood neighborhood, where there are blocks and blocks of working class family houses circa 1950s with square front lawns, I can tell where all the cripples live. Their houses are the ones with the crazy, winding wooden ramps on the front.

Because nobody builds a ramp on their house just in case they or someone who lives there becomes crippled or so some crippled visitor can get in. Hell, if anybody tried to put a ramp on their house just in case somebody might need it someday, the neighbors would probably think they’re crazy. A petition would probably start going around. If there’s a homeowners association involved, they’d probably fine the homeowner with the proactive ramp up the ass. Neighbors and homeowners associations can accept ramps as long as there’s a good excuse for them. But suppose Neighbor X builds a ramp on their house and so neighbor Y, as a display of sympathy that somebody who lives there is now crippled, brings over a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies. And suppose Neighbor X then says thanks a lot but there’s nobody crippled living here. We’re just being proactive. Imagine how betrayed Neighbor Y will feel.

And the only time anyone builds a house from scratch to be fully cripple accessible is if a known cripple is going to live there. And that’s dumb because people become crippled every day. There’s a guy who lives upstairs in my building whom I hadn’t seen around for a while and then one day I saw a guy who looked exactly like him hobbling with a cane and his arm was shriveled up like he had a stroke. So I figured either he had a stroke or he has a twin brother who had a stroke. It turns out that sure enough, the guy who lives upstairs had a stroke, which is why I hadn’t seen him. And I said to myself well hell, I bet that guy’s grateful that by dumb luck he ended up in a building that’s cripple accessible. It’s a helluva lot easier adjusting to life as a cripple when you don’t have to call the fire department to haul your ass down the stairs every time you want to leave the house. The guy in who lives upstairs could be a spokesman for that.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Free Beer from Jesus

Duke and I settled in at our table and ordered a pitcher of beer. At the other end of the room, there was a party of about 15 consisting of two adult men and one adult woman and a flock of kids of a wide range of sizes, ages and colors. Their table was crowded with pizzas and pitchers of soda pop.

After a little while, the two adult men and the oldest boy approached our table. “Excuse me,” one of the men said. “Are you two related?”

I knew what that was all about. They assumed Duke was my son. I get that a lot. People see a crippled old man like me out and about in public and their first conclusion is that my companion/assistant must be my nursemaid. But Duke sure didn’t look the part. He wasn’t dressed like a nursemaid and he was holding up my stein so I could drink beer through a straw. Nursemaid’s don’t do stuff like that. So once the possibility of nursemaid was ruled out, the next possible conclusion was that my companion/assistant must be my offspring. Who would hang out with and feed an old cripple just for fun?

“No,” I said. “We’re just friends.”

And then the man said, “Well we just wanted to let you know that Jesus loves you.”

Oh God! I get that a lot, too, when I’m out and about in public. I find it insulting because I assume the reason that person is singling me out to receive extra love from Jesus is because I’m crippled and I look sad and bedraggled to them and they think they’re making my day.

And then the man said, “And we’re picking up your tab.”

Duke looked at me and I looked at him. Wow! Free beer! There are fewer greater gifts in life! But I still felt a bit insulted. Strangers often pick up my tab, too, and when they do I assume they’re only doing it because I’m crippled and I look sad and bedraggled to them and they think they’re making my day. I always feel like I should reject their generosity and take advantage of this teachable moment.

But this was different. Like I said, I get that Jesus loves you stuff all the time, but no one ever backed it up with free beer. I also had an obligation to Duke in this situation. After all, this was his free beer, too. If I was going to refuse it, I needed a damn good rationale.

So Duke and I just said thank you. The Christians smiled satisfied smiles and returned to their table.

Duke clinked his stein against mine. “You’re a good wingman,” he said.

(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Purchasing Smart Ass Cripple books at lulu.com and filling the tip jar keeps us going. Please help if you can.)