Sunday, December 26, 2021

The Ambassador


 When you’re a cripple, you often end up getting help from people who are paid shit for helping you. It's inevitable because helping cripples is a job that pays shit.

 So then you panic because you fear that the person helping you are going to get fed up and walk out on you right in the middle of doing whatever it is they’re helping you do. So you feel this suffocating obligation to make it up to them by being an ambassador who represents cripples as fine and fascinating people, even though it’s not your fault that they’re being paid shit.

 Like for instance, take those people who assist cripples at airports. They push you around in those clunky airport wheelchairs and /or assist you boarding the plane. I’ve read that those folks are paid something like $4 an hour. And the asshole private contractors who pay them shit like that figure the cripples they help will make up the difference by tipping them.

So when I’m being helped by one of them, I feel a strong obligation to be on my toes and ready to talk about sports or Descartes (at least enough to fake it) or whatever realm the conversation may enter. I look for an opening to tell a joke and to impart some wisdom. It’s probably because I want them to say at the end of the day, “I may hate my job because the pay is shit but I love working with those wheelchair people. They’re so witty and wise.”

The tipping part is stressful, too, because I feel really conflicted about it. I resent that I’m expected to tip because I feel like if I do so I’m enabling the private contractors to continue being assholes. Why should I have to pick up their slack? Why can’t they just not pay people shit in the first place?  But if I don’t tip, the only one I’m hurting is the poor schlub who’s helping me. The private contractors have us both by the balls. The less witty and wise I am, the more I feel obligated to give a bigger tip. I’m sure the schlubs would be more inclined to give me a pass for not being witty and wise if I tipped big.

Another example of people who are paid shit for helping cripples are the people who come to our homes and help us do the stuff everybody has to do every day like get out of bed, get dressed, take a dump, etc. I have a crew of such people I’ve hired to help me in my home. I call them my pit crew.

The people who do this kind of work are usually paid around minimum wage and they get no benefits or sick pay or vacation days or anything like that. So when I’m working with my pit crew members I try my best to be witty and wise so they won't be so quick to get fed up and quit because they’re being paid shit.

It’ll be a great day when things have changed so much that I can just let myself be a grumpy old asshole now and then, like every human does. And at the end of the day the people who help me will say, “Those wheelchair people sure are grumpy old assholes. But I sure get paid a lot for helping them.”

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Sunday, December 12, 2021

Ask Smart Ass Cripple, if You Dare

  Dear Smart Ass Cripple,

In one of your recent entries, you used the term “idiot fascists.” I am writing to express my vociferous objection to your use of that term.

I am President of the Fascist Anti-Defamation League and Defense Fund and on behalf of this proud organization I demand an apology. 

Our organization was formed because, all too often, fascists are a convenient scapegoat and butt of jokes. People like you paint fascists with a broad brush that makes us all look like evil people. Just because fascists believe in a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader that defends corporate interests above all and ruthlessly suppresses opposition, that doesn’t make us evil. There are fascists in all walks of life. The odds are great that some of your neighbors and coworkers are fascists.  Someday your daughter may marry a fascist.

At long last, fascist are emerging from the shadows of shame! We will not be driven back!

Apologize or die!


Adolf Whiteman

 Dear Adolf,

I’m sorry that I used the term “idiot fascists.” I did not mean to be redundant.


Dear Smart Ass Cripple,

What would you do if you were President of the United States?

 Yours truly,

A Political Nerd

Dear Nerd,

If I was President of the United States, I would be very aggressive. On my very first day in office, I would introduce legislation outlawing one-name celebrities. I’d call it the Anti-Pretentiousness Act. Every one-name celebrity would have to choose a last name. If they refused to comply, the government would assign them a last name, such as Sting Wolinsky or Cher Cunningham. I may consider grandfathering dead one-name celebrities, like Prince, and letting them keep a single name forever.

I’d also crack down hard on lazy songwriters by making it illegal to write any more songs that rhyme “love” with “stars above.” I’d call this the Anti-Cliché Act.

And I’d also crack down on lazy city planners. It would be verboten to name the main street in any city or town Main Street. You could name any other street Main Street as long as it isn’t the main street.  And no fair taking the easy way out by naming the main street First Street. It would also be verboten to name a street First Street unless it’s not the first street.

Under my administration, life in the United States would be a lot less annoying.


Dear Mr. Smart Ass,

When you die, do you want to be buried or cremated? It seems to me that both options suck. You either quickly burn or slowly rot. Death sucks.

Your fan,

A Morose Teen

 Dear Morose Teen,

I agree with you that both options suck. That’s why I’m looking into taxidermy. I mean, they do it for birds and moose and weasels, so why not me? They can shoot me full of whatever preservatives taxidermists use, rivet me down into my wheelchair and I’ll be good to go. By being stuffed and mounted like this, I may achieve a certain level of immortality. Like for instance, sometimes when workers are protesting against a boss because they think he’s an asshole, they put a giant, inflatable rat out in front of his place of business to show the world what an asshole he is. But instead of a rat, they could place me out front all taxidermied up. That ought to scare away the customers and bring the boss to his knees.

Who says just because you’re dead you can’t be useful anymore? 

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Meet "The Fabulous T-Babes" by Smart Ass Cripple! Get Volumes 1 and 2 Today!

You can purchase volumes 1 and 2 of The Fabulous  T-Babes, conceived and written by Mike Ervin and illustrated by Permi Cultis, for a measly $18! Visit our good friends at Infected Pork Press at the link below and enter the discount code HOLIDAYS.

If you like nuns who behave like the Three Stooges and deformed superheroes, you'll love The Fabulous T-Babes, a new zine series from Smart Ass Cripple.

Thanks for supporting all the goofiness going on here at Smart Ass Cripple.

Friday, December 3, 2021

An Adorable Plush Crippled Kid


A television commercial came on. Sad music played over footage of elephants (mothers and babies) ambling through the wild. The earnest narrator said elephants are in big trouble. She said their very existence is threatened. But, she said, I can help save them if I sign up to make a monthly donation to this charity whose mission it is to save the elephants. And if I sign up to make a monthly donation, the charity will send me an “adorable plush elephant” as a token of appreciation. It was a cute little stuffed animal intended to make me feel warm and fuzzy about donating to save the elephants.

And then another television commercial came on. Sad music played over footage of polar bears (mothers and babies) ambling through the wild. The earnest narrator said polar bears are in big trouble. She said their very existence is threatened. But, she said, I can help save them if I sign up to make a monthly donation to this charity whose mission it is to save the polar bears. And if I sign up to make a monthly donation, the charity will send me an “adorable plush polar bear” as a token of appreciation. It was a cute little stuffed animal intended to make me feel warm and fuzzy about donating to save the polar bears.

I could see where this could easily turn into an addictive and expensive hobby for me. I’d sign up to make monthly donation after monthly donation and receive cute little stuffed animal after cute little stuffed animal to add to my adorable plush menagerie. Save the whales? Save the porcupines?  Somebody stop me before I donate again!

And then another television commercial came on. This one didn’t have sad music. It featured a couple of smiling crippled kids. It seemed their very existence was threatened, too, but they were much more cheery about it because they knew they could count on people like me to save them by signing up to make a monthly donation to a children’s hospital whose mission is to save the crippled kids. And the crippled kids said that if I signed up I’d receive an “adorable” gift as a token of appropriation.

I was psyched to call the number on the screen and make my pledge right away because I couldn’t wait to receive my adorable, plush, stuffed crippled kid. It would be the crown jewel of my impressive collection of species I helped save.

But it turned out that the adorable gift the crippled kids were offering was just a blanket. Can you believe that? A goddam blanket!

Those crippled kids have to do way better than that if they expect to be saved. 

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Friday, November 26, 2021

The Look on Barbi Benton's Face


 I was browsing through the record department of a big store like Sears.

Yes, this was a long time ago. It was back in the days when there were big stores like Sears that had departments where they sold record albums.

Anyway, I noticed there was some kind of hubbub going on in the corner of the record department. A crowd of people gathered and they were all paying rapt attention to someone. I couldn’t see who the center of attention was or what was going on because everyone in the crowd was standing and I was sitting down. So I worked my wheelchair over that way and inched my way through the crowd. “Excuse me. Coming through. Excuse me, please.”

Eventually I worked my way to the front of the crowd and I saw that the person they were all paying attention to was Barbi Benton

Yes, this was a long time ago. It was back in the days when Barbi Benton was famous for being Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend and for having big boobs, in that order. I say that because whereas her boobs were indeed noteworthy, they weren’t enough to propel her to such heights of fame unto themselves. They needed that extra boost of credibility they received from Hugh’s thumbs up.

It appeared that Barbi was in the record department to plug her new album. Because she sat on a high stool holding a microphone and several album covers with her picture on them were on display around her. I had no idea she could sing. I thought the only thing she wrote on her tax return as an occupation was Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend.

But anyway, the women in the crowd standing next to me shouted out, “Hey, Barbi,  look!” She pointed down at the top of my head. Barbi just said “Hi,” to me but the look on her face said, “Oh shit! That’s not one of those Make-a-Wish kids , is it? Why didn’t anybody warn me about this? They’re supposed to clear this kind of thing through my publicist! This is an ambush! Wait til I see that publicist of mine! I’ll wring his neck!”

I said “Hi” back to Barbi. I don’t know what kind of look I had on my face, but here’s what I was thinking: “Oh shit! She thinks I’m a Make-a-Wish kid! I gotta get the hell out of here!”

So I spun my wheelchair around and got the hell out of there.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Down Syndrome Envy Part 2



There’s another thing that Down Syndrome people have over cripples like me. At least everybody’s not putting together cripple awareness simulations where people who don’t have Down Syndrome pretend like they do for a day. For that I am also envious.

It’s common to see cripple awareness simulations where the mayor or somebody rides around in a wheelchair for a day just so they can feel the cripple experience from the inside. And a local news crew follows the mayor around as he/she struggles to push the wheelchair down a broken up sidewalk or to open the heavy doors at the entrance of City Hall. Or sometimes it a blind awareness simulation and the mayor is blindfolded. And at the end of the day the mayor always says what an enlightening experience it was. And the mayor scores points with the voters because everybody likes empathy in their elected officials.

The problem with these simulations is that they really don’t teach anybody much about what it’s like to be crippled. It takes a helluva lot more than one day to learn that. It’s as silly as trying to become a gourmet chef in one day. It takes years of practice to get good at cooking, just like it takes years of practice to get good at being crippled. If you want to know what it’s like to be an amputee, chopping your leg off is just the beginning. Then you’ve got to go around like that for a couple years before you can start to figure it all out.

But there aren’t simulations for every type of crippledness. Like for instance, I’ve never seen a paranoid schizophrenia awareness simulation. I don’t know how you would pull that one off. Maybe the mayor would wear headphones and listen to recordings of disembodied voices for a day. (It’s looks like I could sure use some paranoid schizophrenia awareness training).

And likewise, I’ve never seen a Down Syndrome awareness simulation. I don’t know how you would pull that one off either. Maybe the mayor would wear a mask for a day that makes them look like a Down Syndrome person? But that would have the opposite effect on voters. That’s the kind of thing that can get a mayor impeached, like running around in black face.

 So when it comes to cripple awareness simulations, we all just leave Down Syndrome people alone. Lucky dogs. 

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Monday, November 8, 2021

Down Syndrome Envy

There’s one thing that the Down Syndrome people have over cripples like me. At least everybody’s not running around trying to cure them. For that I am envious.

I don’t know if it’s Hollywood or what but there’s this popular image of cripples like me taking a magic pill or undergoing some operation and then we rise up out of our wheelchairs and dance a joyous jig. And we all live happily ever after. Blind people get that shit a lot, too, probably because of all those movies and television shows where there’s a blind person who had some eye operation and they're covered in bandages and for the big dramatic climax the doctor unravels the bandages and blind person shouts out, “I can see!!!” And they dance a joyous jig and live happily ever after.

But I’ve never seen a movie or television show where somebody with Down Syndrome has an operation or takes a magic pill and then they don’t look or act like they have Down Syndrome anymore and they dance a joyous jig and live happily ever after. I guess Hollywood considers Down Syndrome people to be hopeless in that regard and that’s why I envy them.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to suggest that uncrippled society at large accepts and embraces Down Syndrome people exactly as they are. The way uncrippled society has dealt with the Down Syndrome dilemma has been to try to prevent Down Syndrome people from happening in the first place. I’m sure that as we speak there are researchers in labs feverishly trying to figure out how to keep everybody from acquiring that extra chromosome that will make them into a Down Syndrome person in hope that there will never be another Down Syndrome person ever again. And Down Syndrome people are aborted by the boatload, too. A doctor sees them coming in a prenatal test and advises the mom to terminate them so as not to subject them to a life of endless misery.

But when  Down Syndrome people show up anyway, uncrippled society usually just lets them be. Nobody expects them to dedicate their lives to not being crippled anymore. Lucky dogs.

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Saturday, October 30, 2021

Helping a Crippled Old Man Get High


 I was very heartened when I recently learned that it’s a whole lot easier than it used to be for a crippled old man to get high. I can’t deny that at least one aspect of life has improved for the better.

I made this discovery when I frequented for the first time one of the many legal marijuana dispensaries here in Illinois. My mission was to purchase some gummies to help me enjoy an upcoming camping trip. I fully expected to be given a hard time because I’ve been denied service in bars before. They wouldn’t serve me alcohol because I’m crippled. Just about every cripple I know has had this problem. I guess some people’s idea of a typical cripple is Tiny Tim and they figure that surely he didn’t drink so we shouldn’t either.

But the first thing they do when you enter the dispensary is check your i.d. to make sure you’re of age. And after they did that the security guard opened the door to the inner sanctum and said to me, “Come right this way, sir. We have a special window just for you.” The dispensary was counter service, like a bank. And the security  guard escorted me to a corner of the counter that was lowered to wheelchair height. It was a heartwarming sight to see. It was a shining example of the Americans with Disabilities Act in action. Some stupid libertarian types might argue that it was a shining example of the glorious free market in action—maybe some shrewd businessman recognized that cripples like to get high as much as regular humans so it makes sense to make us feel welcome, too. But I sincerely doubt it. Most businessmen aren’t that smart when it comes to cripples.

Well the people who checked my i.d. must’ve entered my birthdate into the computer because after I made my purchase my salesman informed me that I was entitled to a discount. He said, “We call it the wisdom discount.”

So I got 10 percent off. Wow! Old folks like me get a lot of discounts, but this was the first time I cashed one in that felt like it meant something. Our discounts are usually something like $2 off of the lunch special on Wednesday between 2 and 4.

Anyway, it's good to know the world has become a more humane and equitable place. I'll remember that the next time I'm feeling blue.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Bravest Dog in the World



Everybody’s seen that annual thing called the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. People parade their absolutely perfect dogs around and the most absolutely perfect dog of all wins a blue ribbon for Best in Show.

So of course there are no crippled dog allowed. A three-legged dog or a deaf dog or blind dog wouldn’t stand a chance since the winning dog has to be absolutely perfect.

But how come there isn’t a Westminster show for crippled dogs? Somebody really ought to put one together. I think it would be a big hit. People love crippled dogs. It would be like the doggie Special Olympics. And every dog would get a ribbon just for showing up and trying.

Only crippled dogs allowed. An absolutely perfect dog wouldn’t stand a chance because that which is a crippled dog’s primary liability in the regular Westminster show would be their primary asset in the show for crippled dogs. The more pitiful a dog, the more formidable a contender it would be.

And so the top dog to beat would be that spinal cord injured dog who gets around with that two-wheeled contraption attached to its hind quarters. It’s the dog that looks like it comes with training wheels.

And for the grand finale, this dog and all the other crippled dogs are lined up at the starting line on a running track. And at the finish line at the end each lane is a bowlful of hamburger or something. All the crippled dogs race for their bowl but the winning dog isn’t necessarily the one that gets there first. No, the winning dog is the one that exhibits the most pluck and determination in getting to their bowl. The greater the struggle, the better. It’s not the destination that matters most. It’s the journey.

The judges hold up their cards. And that dog is awarded the blue ribbon and the coveted title of  The Bravest Dog in the World.

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Thursday, October 7, 2021

Fooling the Verts



Your average Joe or Jane Pedestrian can’t tell cripples apart without a scorecard. If you sit me next to a guy in a wheelchair who has cerebral palsy and another guy in a wheelchair who’s a quad, there’s no way most people will be able to tell which cripple is which. We all look the same to the verts (which is what I call people who walk because it's short for vertical).

Some people seem to think this is always a bad thing for cripples. Thus, they dedicate themselves to setting the record straight by undertaking awareness campaigns designed explode myths about certain types of crippledness.

But I often wish these people would mind their own damn business. I’m afraid their tenacious meddling will eventually blow my cover and my gig. It’s quite comforting for me to know that, if necessary, I can exploit these myths to my advantage.

Like for instance, suppose I knock over somebody or something by running into it or them with my wheelchair, either accidentally or on purpose.  I can  say, “Ooops, sorry I had a spasm.” And that pretty much gets me off the hook. But if too many people know that  the cerebral palsy guys, and not cripples like me, are the ones who have spasms, that cheap and easy excuse won’t fly for me anymore.

Or suppose I get mad and loudly cuss somebody out. If that person thinks all cripples have something like Tourette’s, where we have uncontrollable outbursts, that  person will be a lot less likely to cuss back at me or slug me. And actually, it’s not even true that Tourette’s people go around randomly cussing people out, so we’ve also got to be careful not to explode that myth.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

So you see, the general ignorance about crippledom which I’ve learned how to deftly cash in on is a delicate house of cards. It doesn’t take much to mess it all up and mess me up, too.

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Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Old Bologna Sandwich Routine


 Anybody who has ever been taken into custody by the police for protesting has probably been through the old bologna sandwich routine.

Somewhere in the penal code, it must say that if the police hold you beyond a certain amount of time, they have to feed you. But it must not say what they have to feed you. That’s probably left up to the police. Thus, when that designated feeding time comes around, the police do the absolute minimum to fulfill their obligation to the law. They give you a bologna sandwich. And it’s a minimalist bologna sandwich at that. It’s a single slice of bologna smashed up between two pieces of dry, cottony white bread. It’s a sad little sandwich that looks like it was made in a sheltered workshop. Condiments? Ha! Whudaya think this is, The Ritz?

When they bring you that bologna sandwich, it’s like they’re trying to be smart asses about it. It feels like they’re mocking you. The times I’ve gone through the old bologna sandwich routine have reminded  me of my adolescent days when I was in a state-operated  boarding school for cripples, which I refer to as the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT). There were many mealtimes when we were served a UFO (Unidentifiable Food Object). It was “food” only in the most technical sense. It was quite disheartening to be served a UFO. It felt like it was intended to break my spirit and beat me down

This kind of thing happens a lot to cripples in nursing homes, too. They’re served an amorphous, gray slab. (Could it be meat? A sponge?)  Condiments? Ha! Whudaya think this is, The Ritz?

But you know what? When you’re in police custody and they bring you that damn bologna sandwich, you eat it all up. Yep, in spite of the sneering sarcasm of it all, you say fuck pride and you eat that sandwich all up, because you know that’s all you’re gonna get. And we ate up the UFOs at SHIT, too. And we did it for the same reason.

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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 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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