Athletes are tragic figures because they’re washed up by age 40. Models are even more tragic because they’re washed up by age 25. Olympic gymnasts and members of boy bands are more tragic still because they’re washed up by age 18. But crippled poster children are the most tragic of all because they’re washed up by age eight.
That’s why I say mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be former crippled poster kids. And the way to do that is to do whatever it takes to not let them become crippled poster kids in the first place. But I know even the greatest parent can’t protect their kids from all the pitfalls of life, so your kid may end up being a crippled poster kid in spite of your best efforts. If that happens to you, the best thing you can do is try to keep them from taking it seriously.
I know what I’m talking about here, because I was once a crippled poster child. With all of the spotlight you get, it’s real easy to get full of yourself. I see this kid who’s currently a poster kid for the Shriners and I fear that what’s happening to him. He puffs out his chest and makes his plea for donations with such dramatic conviction and confidence, as if he was delivering a Shakespearean soliloquy. It’s clear that he has visions of grandeur dancing in his head. He pictures himself 10 or 20 years from now hosting his own television talk show.
Fortunately, I never took my reign as a poster kid seriously. I was never very comfortable with the role so when it was over I was happy to let it go. I spared my mother the trouble of deflating my big head, though I‘m sure she would have if she had to. She was good at that.
I hope this kid has someone to keep him sober like that. Because otherwise he’s bound to end up like a bitter and abandoned child star whose once-hot sitcom got cancelled. Except the fall of a crippled poster child is more tragic because it isn’t a tale of rags to riches and back to rags. Crippled poster kids don’t get paid squat so there are no riches. It’s just rags.
I hope somebody will give this kid some tough love and remind him that crippled poster kid is a dead-end role. You’re irreversibly type cast.
Otherwise I fear that 10 to 20 years from now we’ll see this kid sitting alone on a subway train, slugging from a bottle in a paper bag and shouting, “And I got all the attention! When I made my pitch for donations, the switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree! So fuck all y’all!”
Poor kid! Someone needs to save him! He’s on a collision course with puberty!
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