Thursday, September 16, 2021

I Could Have Been the Spelling King

  

It occurred to me recently that I never took part in a spelling bee as a kid.

I’m  sure I was automatically excluded because I was crippled. And now that I’m thinking about it, I’ve still never seen a kid who is obviously crippled in a spelling bee. It’s probably happened somewhere because these days, what with laws and all, it’s a lot harder to turn crippled kids away if they’re determined to win that shiny spelling trophy.

And besides, there really isn’t any reason crippled kids can’t be in spelling bees. Even if a kid can’t talk, they can use one of those Stephen Hawking talking boxes to spell out the word. Okay maybe it might be hard to figure out a way for a deaf kid to compete. Someone would have to show them the word and that would defeat the purpose. Either that or the interpreter would have to finger spell it out, unless it was some word for which there is a symbol in sign language, like maybe the word football. But who the hell doesn’t know how to spell football?

There was no reason to exclude crippled kids from spelling bees back when I was a criplet either. But they did. If pushed, the spelling bee organizers probably would’ve said they were excluding us for our own protection, which is the most common excuse for excluding us. They probably would’ve said something like crippled kids are too emotionally fragile to withstand the pain of being rejected for misspelling a word. Or maybe other spellers and their families would’ve complained that we had an unfair competitive advantage because we’re crippled and judges are afraid to reject us so they’ll give us easier words to spell like dog and cat. You know how it is if you introduce cripples into the mix. Everything gets watered down.

I really missed out on something by not being in any spelling bees. I definitely would’ve made my mark. As a kid, I was psychopathically competitive so I would have been driven to become Spelling King by any means necessary. And I would’ve made headlines for trying to poison my rivals.

So it's probably  a good thing I was excluded, for my own protection. 


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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Defiantly Bald

 

 

For some reason, I really bristle hard when I see ads for products that are supposed to be a cure or treatment for baldness. I renew with myself my solemn, adamant, longtime vow that when my hair falls out, I will make absolutely no attempt to stop it from happening.

I bristle hard the same way when I hear the term “physically challenged.” It makes me renew my solemn, adamant, longtime vow to never use that phrase to refer to myself or any other cripple ever. First of all, that phrase forgets that crippledom is a spectrum. For example, people who are schizophrenic or bipolar are crippled, too. But nobody calls them “emotionally challenged “  or anything like that because it sounds stupid, right? There’s something laughably softball about it. It tries so hard to downplay that type of crippledness that it sounds ridiculous.

And the reason it downplays crippledness is the same reason anybody downplays crippledness: because we think it’s something to be ashamed of. We can’t just call it what it is.

So maybe that’s why ads for these types of products irk me so. I feel like those that are peddling them are trying to make us all ashamed to be bald and that pisses me off. How dare they.

It almost makes me want to go bald quick so I can give the finger to those guys by not buying their shit, in the hope that this pisses them off as much as they piss me off. Sometimes I feel like shaving my head or yanking out my hair just to hasten the process, but that would be cheating.

 When the day comes that I am bald, I will be unapologetically, defiantly bald. And I will proudly refer to myself as bald. I will never let anybody say I’m follicly challenged.


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Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Shit I Put Up With

 

 Each generation of cripples evaluates previous generations of cripples by the shit they up with.

Like for instance, every time I come to a street corner I expect the curbs to be ramped so I can cross the street. It’s very rare to come across a curb that isn’t ramped and when I do I’m pissed. And then I remember about 50 or 60 years ago when curbs were all over the place and there were no ramps. Back then cripples learned the survival skill of curb jumping. They’d pop a wheelie and bounce down a curb. To go up a curb they’d get a flying start in the middle of the  crosswalk and pop a wheelie at the last minute and land their front tires up on the curb and try to use the momentum to bring the rest of the wheelchair up over the curb.

But what if you weren’t one of those gorilla cripples who can whip a wheelchair around and pop wheelies, which most cripples aren’t? Well, you either had a companion or passerby help you up and down curbs or you stayed home.

And then I wonder how that generation of cripples put up with that shit. What a bunch of wusses those guys must’ve been.  And then I tell myself if I was an adult cripple back then, I sure as hell wouldn’t have put up with it! I’d have been among those who raised hell about it so that now there are ramps all over the place!

But when I start feeling all righteous and superior about all that, I think about all the shit I still put up with. Like for instance, when I fly on a commercial airline, they won’t let me sit in my wheelchair on the plane. I have to sit in a regular airline seat and they take my chair away and throw it in with the baggage. And the baggage handlers might mangle the hell out of it. And if I have to pee while in flight I’m screwed again because the bathrooms are so goddam tiny and I couldn’t get to the bathrooms  even if they weren’t tiny because they took my wheelchair away.

So what do I do about this?  Well, I just go along with it. I let them take my chair away and pray hard that they don’t mangle the hell out it. And to reduce the odds of having to pee, I dehydrate myself all day before I fly.

I hope a generation of cripples in the near future will raise hell about this so cripples will no longer be separated from our wheelchairs when we fly. And that generation will shake their heads and wonder how today’s cripples could've been such a bunch of wusses.

And when they start feeling all righteous and superior about it, they’ll think about all the shit they still put up with.


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Thursday, August 12, 2021

Inaccessible Pizza

 

Since I am about to blow the whistle on a dangerous food product, I will give the protagonist of this true story a Smart Ass Cripple alias. I’ll call him Joe DiMaggio.

Joe DiMaggio is blind and the father of two boys, ages 6 and 8. One day recently, Joe DiMaggio was preparing to make dinner for them. So he set the oven on 450 degrees and took a frozen pizza from Home Run Inn out of the freezer. He placed the pizza on the rack inside the hot oven. But about 15 minutes later, the smoke detector was blaring and black smoke billowed from the oven.

Joe DiMaggio says, "There was literally a grease fire in the bottom of the oven."

That happened because Joe DiMaggio put the pizza on the rack upside down and the cheese dripped down onto the coils on the bottom of the oven and ignited.

Joe DiMaggio thinks Home Run Inn is "the best” frozen pizza. But this was the third time he'd placed one in the oven upside down and a fire ensued. And every time it was a plain cheese pizza.

It’s hard for a blind person to tell which side is which on a Home Run Inn plain cheese pizza because the cheese is smooth. On other frozen pizzas, Joe DiMaggio says, the cheese is in shreds so that provides a reliable, Braille-like clue as to which side the toppings are on.

The same is true, Joe DiMaggio says, of Home Run Inn pizzas with additional bumpy toppings like pepperoni or veggies.  "I've never put a sausage one in upside down,” he says.

The other problem is that Home Run Inn frozen pizzas don’t come with the customary cardboard disc that provides an additional indicator of which side is the bottom.

And Joe DiMaggio isn’t the only blind person having this problem. He also has a brother who is blind, whom I will call Dom DiMaggio. And Dom has also put Home Run Inn cheese pizzas in the oven upside down.

So I called the Home Run Inn headquarters and I ended up with a pleasant customer service agent named Michelle. I told her about the plight of Joe and Dom. She acknowledged that the cheese on Home Run Inn pizzas is smooth because the pizzas are baked before they are frozen. She also said that no cardboard discs are included because the cardboard absorbs moisture from the pizza and makes the crust brittle.

Thus, Michelle said, even sighted people have reported putting cheese pizzas in the oven upside down because it’s also hard to tell top from bottom visually. Michelle said she tells people there are tiny ventilation holes on the bottom of the pizza that look like the crust was stabbed several times with a fork.  If you see them, you know that’s the bottom. Michelle said she hopes Joe Dom and other blind people can find the holes by feeling for them. “I'm sure their sense of touch is much more acute than yours and mine," she said.

 So I passed that tip along to Joe DiMaggio. If it doesn’t work, he may have to resort to desperate measures in his quest to successfully find his way around a frozen Home Run Inn cheese pizza when feeding  his hungry boys.

"I've thought about giving it a quick lick," he says.


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Saturday, August 7, 2021

Ralph the Cockroach: Another Tale from the Pit Crew

 

 Here’s a story told to me by a current member of my pit crew, which is what I call the people I hire to get me out of bed, wipe my butt, etc.

When Nick was in high school, his girlfriend broke up with him and that made him sad. So another friend, who was a girl but not his girlfriend, gave him a new pet to help cheer him up. She brought a terrarium over to Nick’s house and in it was a cockroach about as big as the palm of Nick’s hand.

It was a Madagascar hissing cockroach.

Nick’s mom was cool with having a pet cockroach in the house but his dad was quite stressed about it. Nick’s dad had a cockroach phobia due to an incident that occurred way back when he worked at a food store. Nick’s dad was carrying a bag of grain that was full of cockroaches, which was unbeknownst to him until the bag accidentally burst open and the escaping cockroaches crawled all over him.

So Nick kept the cockroach but he named it Ralph because his dad often said if he ever had a pet dog he would name it Ralph. Nick figured if he named his cockroach Ralph, it might cause his dad to view it in a more positive light.

Nick dutifully fed Ralph dog food, as the girl who was his friend but not his girlfriend had instructed him to do. Ralph didn’t hiss much at first, which disappointed Nick. But after becoming more comfortable with his surroundings, Ralph hissed at night and this created a soothing bond with him for Nick and helped take Nick’s mind off of the break up.

Nevertheless, Nick’s dad lived in fear that Ralph would one day escape from the terrarium and, sure enough, it happened. But Nick sprang into action and eventually found Ralph lounging atop a David Bowie album. Nick returned Ralph to his terrarium and issued the all clear.

For the next year and a half or so, Nick and Ralph lived happily ever after. Nick even got a new girlfriend, who also bonded with Ralph. But then Nick was accepted into college in Chicago and the dorm had a strict no-cockroach policy. That’s good. The world would be a better place if more dorms had strict no-cockroach policies.

So Nick turned over custody of Ralph to the new girlfriend. But Nick was worried because the new girlfriend was moving to Toronto. She vowed to take Ralph with her and continue to care for him. But what if the Canadian authorities denied entry of a foreign cockroach into their country? Would the new girlfriend have no choice but to free Ralph into the wild to fend for himself, where he wouldn’t stand a chance?

But soon Nick received pictures from the new girlfriend confirming that she and Ralph arrived safely in Toronto. Nick had no idea how the new girlfriend got Ralph past Canadian border security. Perhaps she smuggled him in. But Nick didn’t ask. He was just relieved that they made it.

As Nick and the new girlfriend faded away, so did her updates on Ralph. Nick assumes that Ralph is now dead, since average lifespan of a Madagascar hissing cockroach (in the wild) is three to five years, according to cockroachfacts.com. But Nick will always have a fondness in his heart for Ralph the cockroach for helping him through a trying time.


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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Cripples Talking Cripple Talk

  

 

I can certainly understand how being around packs of cripples can be intimidating, what with all the acronyms and initialisms and other inside references flying around. It’s enough to make your brain explode if you’re a vert (which is what I call people who walk because it’s short for vertical).

Like for instance, I am crippled because of MD and so is one of my friends. But his MD isn’t anything like my MD. My MD is muscular dystrophy but his MD is macular degeneration, which means he’s legally blind. People always refer to my type of MD as MD but I never heard anyone call macular degeneration MD. I don’t know who decides these things.

And then there’s multiple sclerosis, which is called MS, which is why people always get it mixed up with MD.

And what about TBI, which stands for traumatic brain injury? Don’t confuse that with UTI, which stands for urinary tract infection. But there’s no such thing as a UBI or untraumatic brain injury. Maybe it’s because every brain injury is traumatic. But again, I don’t know who decides these things.

Perhaps the most popular initialism in cripple circles is SSI because it stands for Supplemental Security Income and that’s the Social Security fund through which a lot of cripples get the money they live off of.  SSI isn’t the same as SCI, which stands for spinal cord injury, although a lot of people who are crippled because of an SCI live off of SSI.

Just about every cripple uses some sort of DME, which stands for durable medical equipment, which is stuff like wheelchairs. And there’s a lot of talk about ADLs, which stands for activities of daily living, which is the stuff everybody (crippled or not ) does every day, like the putting on pants and brushing teeth. Cripples are often evaluated to see how much we suck at performing our ADLs so we can prove that we are crippled enough to receive stuff like DME and SSI.

So if you hang around cripple circles long enough, you’ll hear such dizzying banter as, “That guy with the TBI has a UTI.” Or, “That guy with the SCI really needs DME but he can’t afford it because he’s on SSI.”

And that’s just the beginning of it all. There are tons and tons more acronyms and initialisms in cripple circles. But rather than drive the poor verts nuts trying to keep it all straight, if we just lock all the cripples up in institutions then no one else has to worry about it. 




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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Cripples, Worms and Insects

  

There’s a professional hockey team called the Nashville Predators. Thinking about that name has helped me figure out a lot about the status of cripples in society.

Because like I’ve said before, at least one thing cripples don’t have to complain about is sports teams named after stereotypes of us. We're not like the poor tribes, being hounded by stuff like the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians. There hasn’t been a team that I know of with a name like the Indiana Invalids. Hell, there hasn’t even been a team with one of those cutesy cripple names, like the Houston Handicapables or the Philadelphia Physically Challenged.

But is this completely a good thing? Why would a team owner want to associate their team with predators but not cripples?

I then I thought I figured out the answer. Maybe it’s because cripples are perceived to be the opposite of predators. We’re prey. And the world of sports is all about predators and prey. There’s a clash and one side wins and one side loses. Period. So if you have to choose sides, you might as well choose the winning side, which is the predators.

But then I reminded myself that not all teams are named after beasts. Some are named after birds. They’re often predatory birds, like hawks and eagles. But there are also cute little tweety birds, like cardinals and blue jays.

These birds are hardly predators. But then again, aren’t concepts of predator and prey relative, depending on the point of view of a given species? Aren’t cardinals and blue jays vicious predators, if you’re a worm or an insect? To them, tweety birds must look like pterodactyls.

But when viewed through a human centric lens, which is what we do when naming sports teams, tweety birds are strictly prey. So that must mean that it’s acceptable to name your sports team afar some creatures that aren’t predators first and foremost, but not many others.

Then this, it seems to me, must be why you don’t see sports teams named after worms, insects or cripples. We’re all too far down the food chain. Well I suppose there might be some sports teams named after spiders. At least spiders are scary to humans. Cripples are scary to humans, too, but not in a way that has any marketing appeal.

So maybe nobody names sports teams after cripples because we are viewed as among the lowest, most vulnerable prey. The only thing we are a threat to feast upon wantonly and voraciously is the public treasury. And that’s not the dignified kind of predator. 




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Saturday, July 10, 2021

Things I Wouldn't Know if I Lived in a Stinkin' Nursing Home

  

Bohol is an island province of the Philippines. It consists of the island itself plus 75 surrounding islands. Its capital is Tagbilaran. Its most popular tourist attraction is the Chocolate Hills, which are called that because they sort of look like a range of giant chocolate chips. If they really were made of chocolate, you know some corporation like Hershey’s would have seized the land and strip mined the hills a long time ago.

I wouldn’t know anything about Bohol if I lived in a stinkin’ nursing home. The only reason I know Bohol even exists is thanks to one of the members of my pit crew. That’s what I call the crew of people I’ve hired to come into my home and do miscellaneous stuff for me like get me dressed and out of bed. One of them came in recently wearing a yellow t-shirt that said Spirit of Bohol. I asked him what Bohol was and he said he thought it was part of the Philippines. He said he got the t-shirt from a resale store. So that prompted me to look up stuff about Bohol, which I never would’ve done otherwise because I don’t spend a lot of time wondering about things like Philippine provinces. I’m not especially proud of that trait. I wish I was more the naturally curious type of person who embarks upon research adventures without prompting. But, sadly, I am not.

But if I lived in a stinkin’ nursing home, the people helping me get dressed and out of bed would all be required to wear boring-ass scrubs, which are all a stern solid color like grey or dark blue. Sometimes they’re adorned with stuff like Smurfs or rainbows or unicorns, but nothing interesting.

Another thing I also learned about from a resale t-shirt of one of my pit crew guys is the spread of communism in the 20th Century. On the front of his shirt was Lenin, Stalin and Mao and it said The Three Terrors. It was a parody of a concert tour t-shirt of The Three Tenors and on the back, instead of listing all the cities and dates of the stops along the tour, it listed, chronologically, countries that turned communist. The first date was Russia in 1917, followed by dozens of countries like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Yugoslavia, Poland, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary and China.

Whenever this pit crew guy worked with his back to me, like washing dishes, I learned more about the spread of communism in the 20th Century. But if I lived in a stikin’ nursing home, all I’d see when someone had their back to me would be a solid wall of a stern color.

I have another pit crew guy who has a wide array of soccer jerseys he bought at resale shops. They’re not educational, but they’re entertaining. 



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Monday, June 28, 2021

No Longer Living a Lie

  

 

This is the time of year when everybody reflects on how far cripples have progressed over the last few decades or so because July 26 is the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

Well one thing I can say about how the ADA has changed  my life is I don’t have to fake like I have a doctor’s appointment anymore. I used to have to do that a lot back in the 1970s and early 1980s, before the ADA was a glimmer. There was all kinds of public transportation in Chicago but none of it was wheelchair accessible so if a cripple like me needed to go somewhere and if they didn’t have a car they could drive, they had to call MOSCH, the Mayor’s Office for Senior Citizens and the Handicapped. (Well okay, that’s another thing that’s changed for the better since those days. We don’t get referred to as handicapped anymore. They used to call us that in the press all the time, but not now. And the government agencies that are supposed to serve us sure as hell don’t call us that.  The ADA isn’t called the Americans with Handicaps Act.)

MOSCH would dispatch a van equipped with a wheelchair lift to pick you up if you were lucky enough to get through before they were all booked up. And their limited hours we something like 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday thru Friday. And they would only take you to doctor’s appointments.

So what I did if I wanted to go somewhere was figure out what hospital, clinic, dentist’s office, etc. was nearby and I’d have the MOSCH van driver drop me off there and I’d go inside and wait for the driver to be far enough away and then I’d go to where I really wanted to go. And then I’d hustle back to the medical place in time for my pick up. And all the time in between when I roamed the streets I lived in fear that a van driver would see me and report me to their superiors and my lone source of independent transportation would be cut off, even though I’d never heard a confirmed case of that actually happening to anybody .

The people at MOSCH probably thought I was the sickliest cripple on earth since I was always seeing doctors all over the city. Sometimes when riding in the van I wondered if I should fake a hacking coughing fit just to maintain my cover.

But I don’t have to live that stressful lie anymore. All the buses and most of the train stations are wheelchair accessible now and none of the drivers or train operators give a shit where I’m going or why. They just shut up and take me there.

So at least there’s that. But it’s a lot. 


P.S. But of course not all cripples are this lucky. A lot of cripples who are stuck in nursing homes or places like that where someone else runs your fucking life for you still have to fake being sick. Sometimes the only way to get the hell out of one of those places is to pretend you're having a heart attack so they have to call an ambulance for you. They only take you to the hospital and back, but at least you see a little damn daylight.


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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Good Signs, Bad Signs

  

I guess the proliferation of those big blue signs with the white wheelchair stick figure on them is supposed to be a sign of progress. It means cripples are welcome more and more. But I’ll really feel like we’re making progress when I see that same sign except with a slash through the white wheelchair stick figure, meaning cripples are not welcome.

Because it’s too bad those blue access signs are even necessary. But they are necessary because cripples eventually come to assume through life experience that we are unwelcome unless informed to the contrary. Exclusion is our default position. We often err on the side of avoidance. Before I go someplace I’ve never been before, like a restaurant or whatever, I feel the need to call ahead and ask a bunch of questions to make sure I can actually get in and around and all that.

But it’s funny that, as a white man, I’ve never felt that I need additional confirmation to reassure me that I’m welcome. I’ve never felt that I needed to see a sign that says WHITE MEN WELCOME, which is good because no such signs exist. They aren’t necessary because that would be to belabor the obvious. As a white man, my default is the opposite of what it is as a cripple. Before I go someplace I’ve never been before, like a restaurant or whatever, I never call ahead and ask if white men are welcome.

You never see NO SMOKING signs anymore for the same reason. They’re unnecessary. Everybody assumes everywhere is no smoking unless otherwise designated. But it used to be the opposite. Everybody assumed everywhere was okay for smoking unless otherwise designated so you saw NO SMOKING signs every day.

But things have changed so much that NO SMOKING signs are now obsolete. So wouldn’t it be cool if things changed so much that the blue sign with the white wheelchair stick figure was unnecessary and obsolete because everybody just assumed cripples were welcome everywhere? And wouldn’t it be cooler still if signs with a slash through the white wheelchair stick figure were necessary to serve as a warning because cripples being unwelcome was so out of the ordinary?

Maybe someday.  


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Saturday, June 5, 2021

The Trespassing Tuba Player

  

 

Every big city cripple who rides public transit has experienced that awkward moment. You enter the bus but the seating area that’s reserved for cripples is occupied by someone with a baby carriage.

A stand-off ensues. Now what do you do? Will the person with the carriage refuse to move and escalate this into an ugly confrontation? If so, then you should assert yourself because, after all, that is your spot. The Americans with Disabilities Act is on your side. And a lot of people fought long and hard for the ADA so it is essentially your duty to past and future generations of cripples to insist that the person with the baby carriage vacate your territory. There is no such thing as the Americans with Baby Carriages Act.

But what are you going to do if the person refuses to move? Sue? And right there in the seating area there’s a sign, clear as day, that says PRIORITY SEATING FOR SENIOR CITIZENS AND PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES. It doesn’t say a damn thing about baby carriages! But there is no force of law behind that sign. It’s merely a suggestion. Most people obey it not because they’re afraid they’ll get arrested but because they don’t want to be an enormous prick. But what if this particular person with the baby carriage is a proud member of the rapidly growing segment of the populace that isn’t afraid to be an enormous prick and thus refuses to move? And what if you choose not to be the peacemaker by exiting the bus and waiting for the next one? The bus driver will eventually have to call the police and meanwhile everybody will have to wait and your fellow passengers will hate you. You won’t exactly come off as the new Rosa Parks.

Fortunately for me, every time I’ve faced this situation the squatter in the cripple spot has always yielded. But there was one time when things could’ve easily gotten out of hand real quick if not for a twist of fate. Rahnee and I were riding the bus so both cripple spots were occupied. The driver swung over to a bus stop and opened the door. There stood that street musician I’d seen playing tuba on Michigan Avenue. He was pushing a wheelchair and its passenger was a tuba. Apparently he used a wheelchair to tote his horn around town.

The driver told the tuba man that both wheelchair spots were occupied. And the angry tuba man said, “Damn cripples!”

The driver closed the doors and swung away and that was that. But what if the tuba man had gotten on the bus before us and beaten us to the cripple seats? Judging from his reaction, he may well have refused to move. And that would've gotten me riled and I surely would’ve said something like, “According to the ADA, you’re trespassing! There is no such thing as the Americans with Tubas Act! And I don’t see any sign that says PRIORITY SEATING FOR DUMBASS TUBA PLAYERS!” And the tuba man would’ve dug in his heels deeper and the driver would’ve had to call the police and the whole thing would’ve exploded to the point where the fire department would have to come too to extract my head from a tuba using the Jaws of Life and a lot of butter.

And I wouldn’t have exactly come off as the new Rosa Parks.  


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Thursday, May 27, 2021

Yep, Here Comes Another Ask Smart Ass Cripple

  

 Purging the mailbag.

 

Dear Smart Ass Cripple,

I sure wish Superman was for real, don’t you?

Sincerely,

A Big Christopher Reeve Fan

 

Dear Big CRF,

No, I’m very glad that Superman is merely fictitious because there are no phone booths anymore so Clark Kent would probably change into his Superman costume in the cripple stalls of public bathrooms because they’re so roomy. And there are already way too many cases of cripple stalls of public bathrooms being clogged up by verts (which is what I call people who walk, because it’s short for vertical).

I bet Clark Kent would’ve used cripple stalls in public bathrooms to change into Superman from jump except there was no such thing as a public cripple bathroom stall until about 50 years or so ago because there was no such thing as a cripple out in public until about 50 years or so ago.

So I’m glad Superman isn’t for real. It would mean one more pain in the ass for cripples to have to deal with.


Dear Smart Ass Cripple,

I suffer from low self-esteem. What should I do?

Yours truly,

Dorothy the Meek

 

Dear Dorothy the Meek,

Suffering from low self- esteem is stupid! What the hell’s the matter with you? If you pay attention to the people who put you down, you’re an idiot! Stop it right now!

 

Dear Esteemed  Mr. Smart Ass,

I am a little crippled boy. Would you be so kind as to pray for me?

With Warm Regards,

Timmy

 

Dear Timmy,

I’m so glad you asked me to pray for you. When I was little crippled boy about your age, I recited a prayer that helped me live as cripple in a world of verts (see above). As I recall, it went something like this:

“Oh Heavenly Father. Please deliver me from the vortex of shame. When others seek to diminish me because I am crippled, please bestow upon me the wisdom to recognize them as a bunch of dunderheads.

“And in addition, Oh Father, please grant me the strength to endureth byzantine bureaucracies, both public and private. In the future, when I am no longer an adorable criplet and I needeth something like a wheelchair or Social Security, please bless me with the tenacity to not take no for an answer. Please endow me with the ability to file appeal after appeal after appeal after appeal until the forces of recalcitrance finally relinquish that which I need to merely survive. And give me the fortitude to sue them if need be”

There are other stanzas from there that I don’t remember. It’s sort of like the Star Spangled Banner. But you get the idea.

I hope you find this helpful.

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Monday, May 17, 2021

Premature Hospice

 

 

There’s a caregiver agency called Home Instead. There’s another one called Home Again.

There are probably a bunch of others with Home in their name. There ought to be one called Home Forevermore because that would be honest. These agencies with Home in their names make it seem like all the people who use their services ever want to do is stay home all the time.

Maybe that’s true for some but not for me. That’s for damn sure. And I’m one of those people who uses services like theirs. Except I don’t use an agency. That’s also for damn sure. It’s ironic that they call them agencies because if you hire them you don’t have any agency. They just dispatch a stranger dressed in surgical scrubs. I have people come in and help me every day but I hire and train them myself and I fire them if I have to. I can’t believe anybody would want it any other way. And the wages of the people who work for me are paid by our tax dollars through a state program. And I don’t call the people who work for me caregivers. That word grates on me. It sounds too much like babysitter, I guess. I call them my pit crew. And I don’t let them wear surgical scrubs. I’d let them go naked before I’d let them wear surgical scrubs. I feel it’s my obligation to educate the masses by showing that not every cripple has to be constantly accompanied by a medical professional.

In the advertising of the caregiver agencies, the cripples and old people receiving the care are always home. It’s like the cripples are on house arrest. And they’re always happy as hell about it. It’s like their only goal in life is to stay home all the time and the job of their caregivers is to keep them there. I suppose being at home all the time beats the hell out of being looked up in some stinkin nursing home all the time, if those are your only options. 

But if all an agency is going to do is send people to just keep me comfy at home, that sounds like a nursing home on wheels to me. If I had to stay home all the time I’d go nuts. I’m super susceptible to cabin fever. If I had to stay home all the time I’d feel like I’m in hospice. Now don’t get me wrong. I got nothing against people in hospice. Some of my best friends are in hospice. Well, they were. Far be it from me to engage in terminal illness shaming. If I was terminally ill, I wouldn’t be ashamed to admit it. I’d hold my head high.  I wouldn’t try to pretend I’m somebody I’m not.

But I’m not terminally ill yet. So until the time comes, I’m interested in getting out and about a lot. That’s why I have a pit crew. I have things to see and people to do. There’ll be plenty of time for that sitting around doing nothing stuff when I’m terminally ill, or after I’m dead.


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Sunday, May 2, 2021

The Age of Consent

  

I know the age of consent is generally 18. That’s the age where we’re considered to be old enough to understand what we’re getting into when we do stuff like have sex.

If you’re 18 you can kill people, as long as you join the armed forces first. And you can also vote but you can’t drink beer.

But I think there are some things for which the age of consent ought to be a whole lot higher than 18. One of those things in particular is shilling for cripple charities. Believe me, I know. I used to be one of those charity spokescriplets. I was a poster child for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. But by the grace of God it was way back when I was cute and apple-cheeked. And that was long before the internet, so precious little, if any, historical record of my reign remains. These days, if you do something regrettable in public, it’s likely to be recorded somehow and forever enshrined on the internet.

It’s true that nobody held a gun to my head and forced me to be a poster kid. I did it for the same reason I went to church. My heart wasn’t in it but doing it pleased the adults around me. But I can see now that I was far too young to understand the potential consequences of my actions.

There was no way I could begin to comprehend concepts like oppression and it’s deep cultural roots and how the life-blood of cripple oppression is the insidious mask of benevolence and compassion it hides behind and the manner in which my playing the role of an eternally-grateful Tiny Tim with no agency except my begging prowess deepens the roots of cripple oppression by reinforcing the one-dimensional stereotypes on which it thrives.

That’s some heavy shit for an 8 year old to wrap their arms around. Hell, that’s some heavy shit for a 38 year old to wrap their arms around. So I think the age of consent for being a cripple poster child ought to be at least 45. I don’t see how anyone with less life experience than that can grasp how what they’re doing impacts others. And they’re bound to have the same jolt of remorse later in life that I had, like when you want to have an ugly tattoo removed. Except these days it’s worse because with the internet, ugly tattoos are permanent.  


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