Saturday, December 31, 2022

Only the Most Deserving

 There’s a big cardboard box right next to the exit of my local grocery store. On the side of the box is a sign urging everyone to support the Chicago Bears Coat Drive by depositing a coat into the box. The sign says the coats will be distributed to “deserving “people.

Deserving? I wonder who deserves to freeze to death and who doesn’t and what criteria is applied to determine who qualifies as deserving.

It seems that people who are physically crippled, like me, at least survive the first cut when it comes to being considered deserving. Or at least that’s the impression I get when I see those commercials soliciting donations for Disabled American Veterans or the Wounded Warrior Project. All the crippled vets in these commercials have physical disabilities that are immediately obvious. like they’re missing limbs or riding around in wheelchairs.

But there are tons of vets who are wounded in war in ways that aren’t physical or obvious. They have PTSD and stuff like that. Hell, I don’t see how anybody could fight in a war and not have PTSD.

These people are as crippled as I am. But I don’t see anyone like them in those commercials. It’s probably because when you’re begging for donations, you don’t want to take time to explain how some cripples don’t look crippled but they really are and thus they are just as deserving (or not) as those whose wounds are obvious. You just want to get straight to the point, so you stick with those whose wounds speak for themselves.

But even among physical cripples, some of us are considered to be more deserving than others. It matters how you became crippled. The most deserving are those who became crippled in some noble way, such as defending our freedom or foiling a bank robbery. That’s why crippled former soldiers and cops are seen as the most deserving of the deserving. Next come people who were born crippled, like me. People are more likely to forgive us for being crippled because we have a certain innocence. We got this way through no fault of our own. But if you became crippled doing something stupid or nefarious, like diving naked into a shallow river or in a botched bank robbery, you automatically join the ranks of the least palatable and sympathetic of cripples.

So, suppose the Chicago Bears only have one coat left and I show up to ask for it at the same time another guy who’s also in a wheelchair and looks just as crippled as I do also shows up to ask for it. If he’s a vet who was wounded on the battlefield, I imagine he’ll get the coat and I’ll get to freeze to death. But if the other person who shows up at the same time doesn’t look  crippled but says they have PTSD, then the last coat will probably go to me. Of course, if that person is also a vet, that might score them enough points toward becoming considered deserving to cancel out my natural advantage. In that case, whoever it is that decides who deserves the coat might have to rip it down the middle and give us each half.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2022

The Great Purge


In this city they recently passed one of those purge laws, just like in the movie.  As a result, all laws were suspended for one day and everybody could do anything they wanted with no consequences.

Many citizens feared a bloody rampage would break out, so they locked themselves in their homes for the duration. But I had more faith in my fellow humans than that, so I went out and about my business, just like it was any other day.

Boy was that a mistake. My day was booked solid. First, I stopped at my friendly neighborhood coffee shop as I often do. Because it’s in an old building there is a step on the front entrance, but I’ve always been able to get into the place because the proprietor always puts out a ramp. But the ramp wasn’t there.

So I knocked on the window until I got the proprietor’s attention. When she came outside, I said to her, “Where’s the ramp?”

She said, “Oh I’m not putting it out today. I have too many other things to do.”

“You can’t do that!” I said. “It’s against the law!”

“What law?” she said and went back inside,

At first, I was furious. But then I realized that on this day, I couldn’t do anything about it. So I swallowed my indignation and went to the bus stop so I could take public transit to my next appointment of the day.

But when the bus arrived the driver opened the door and said, “Sorry, no wheelchairs allowed on the bus today.”

“Why not?” I protested.

“Because I got a schedule to keep,” he said. “And if I stop to pick you up, I’ll be way behind. And besides, you’re a fire hazard. What if the bus starts on fire and everybody has to escape? You’ll clog things up!” He closed the door and drove off.

After that, I just turned around and went home and stayed there until the purge expired. I didn’t feel safe and protected in such a lawless world.

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Friday, December 9, 2022

Laughing Gas

Back when I was in college, about 45 years ago, my roommate told me he’d met a couple of guys who had a new and unique way of getting high and he invited them to come over so he could get high with them. He said I could join them if I wanted to.

A few days later, two guys who were about in their early 20s or so, like us, arrived toting something that looked like an oxygen tank. It turned out it was full of laughing gas.

I didn’t know there really was such a thing as laughing gas. I thought it was just some fictional device that mostly appeared in comic strips. But I guess it was a euphemistic name for an anesthetic used by dentists, at least at the time.

And I didn’t know how these guys managed to score a tank of laughing gas. Were there pushers in dark alleys who dealt such wares? Or maybe one of them had a parent or uncle or somebody in their life who was a dentist and they swiped a tank of laughing gas from their office.

Anyway, this opportunity was too unique to pass up so I sat in a circle in my living room with my roommate and those two other guys and the tank of laughing gas was in the center of the circle between us all.  And we took turns inhaling the laughing gas and every once in a while somebody would burst out laughing out of the blue.

I don’t remember laughing or even being moved to laugh. And I never did laughing gas again. That’s ironic because I’ve spent a lot of my life since then seeking out laughs. Except I use more natural and organic sources to make me laugh, like reading Mark Twain or watching stuff like the Marx Brothers, Monty Python, the Three Stooges or a Mel Brooks movie.

And speaking of the Stooges, there’s a particularly hilarious episode where they accidentally end up in the army and on the battlefield a bomb that says LAUGHING GAS on it explodes near them. They’re all laughing their asses of off as the Nazis take them prisoner and take them to their headquarters. And at the headquarters the Stooges keep laughing their asses off as they beat the shit out of the Nazis.

Wouldn’t it be great if we really could weaponize laughing gas like that? You fire one of those missiles at your enemies and they laugh their asses off. And nobody can fight because they’re laughing too hard. Make jokes not war.

The world sure would be a better place if that’s how we fought wars. Whoever invented a laughing gas bomb would surely win the Nobel Peace Prize.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Bingo is Something About us Without us


 There’s a saying some cripples use a lot: Nothing About Us Without Us. It means, “The person who decides what I need and want should be me, dammit!”

That saying resonates with cripples because we're used to uncrippled people, like doctors and social workers and the heads of giant-ass charities, deciding what we need and what we’ll get because they think it’s too dangerous for us to decide for ourselves.  And so we end up with a lot of useless stuff bestowed upon us in the name of helping us out. It’s a lot of something about us without us.

A good example of something about us without us is bingo. A lot of cripples end up in nursing homes. And when they do they end up playing a lot of bingo. That's because there are people whose job it is to plan and conduct activities for people who reside in nursing homes. And the people who decide what these activities will be are not the ones who are expected to take part in them. And if they don’t ask the people they are planning the activities for what they want to do, all they can do is guess, based on their notion of the kinds of things cripples want to do.

But I’ve never met a cripple who has playing bingo at the top of their agenda. I’m sure there are some, because there are bingo addicts in every population and the crippled population is no exception. But it’s probably not being crippled that has made them bingo addicts. They’d probably be bingo addicts whether they were crippled or not. That's how bingo addicts are.

The reason why nursing home activity planners don’t ask cripples what they really want to do is probably because they’re afraid of what the answer will be. They know it probably will involve stuff like vodka and/or sex and having that kind of fun is off limits in a nursing home. And by the time you rule out all the fun stuff that’s off limits in a nursing home, there’s not much left except bingo and maybe square dancing.

That’s why I hate bingo. I’ve got nothing against the game per se. I just hate what it represents. Bingo is a symbol of cripple oppression and our lack of self-determination. I have to admit that I’ve even sometimes had fun playing bingo. The most fun I had was when I played drag queen bingo. It was like regular bingo except the caller was a drag queen. And the drag queen was hilarious, which made playing the game campy fun.

If I’m ever stuck in a nursing home and all they have to offer me is bingo, I hope it will at least  be drag queen bingo. But having that kind of fun will probably be off limits.

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Monday, November 21, 2022

That Coveted Captive Cripple Demographic


I’ve never seen a television commercial for a nursing home. I’ve seen commercials for everything from kitchen gadgets to boner pills. And I’ve seen plenty of commercials for those retirement communities for old people. They make them seem like blissful stud pastures where all the residents do all day is eat gourmet food and dance. But you never see any cripples in commercials like that because they don’t send cripples to places like that. Cripples go to nursing homes, unless they have bottomless buckets full of money.

The only television commercials I’ve seen that mention nursing homes are for those lawyers who sue nursing homes for abuse and neglect. I’ve seen a lot of highway billboards for those guys too. But I’ve never seen a billboard advertising for a nursing home either.

 I’d sure hate to be an advertising executive charged with coming up with television commercials and/or billboards that make a certain nursing home look like a great place to live. That would be a thankless job, even for a seasoned bull shit artist like an advertising executive, because everybody knows nursing homes are dumping grounds. You don’t just check into one for fun like it’s a resort. You surrender yourself over to one because you have no choice.

That’s probably why nursing homes don’t bother advertising on broadcast media and billboards. They know it’s a waste of money. Fortunately for them, they don’t have to go to such lengths to recruit because they know the chute is greased enough to keep a steady flow of potential customers (a.k.a abandoned cripples with nowhere else to go) falling into their laps-. The nursing home marketers only reach out to those who have been defeated to the point of surrender. They save all their highly-polished bull shit for those colorful brochures they hand out that say, in essence, since you gotta go live in a nursing home, you might as well live in ours.

Maybe if I someday see a television commercial or a billboard for a nursing home it’ll be a good thing. Maybe it’ll mean they’re getting desperate.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2022

At the Mercy of the Court


I was trying get out of paying a parking ticket. So I went to the city facility where hearings about parking tickets are held.

First I had to pass through a metal detector. Except wheelchairs are too wide to fit through those things and even if they could all the metal makes the alarms go berserk. So the security guy waved me around to his side and passed over me with his wand, like he was setting some sort of spell on me or trying to rid me of evil spirits.

Then I entered a small courtroom. The only person in there was a man sitting behind a large desk on high. His vantage point was such that he could look down upon anyone else in the room, like a  priest presiding over a Mass. So I figured this guy must be the judge, even though he wasn’t wearing a robe or a powdered wig or anything like that. He wasn’t even wearing a tie.

I sat before the judge and he told me to raise my right hand. I told him I was physically unable to do that. He smiled a warm, awkward smile of dispensation and moved on to the next step in the proceedings.

I wondered if this might be one of those times when my  crippledness works in my favor. Because I ‘ve noticed that playing up the cripple angle seems to be a popular strategy for celebrity defendants. When Bill Cosby got in trouble with the law, he tapped around the courthouse with a white cane and made it real clear how blind he was. Harvey Weinstein walked with a walker.  And former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert showed up in a wheelchair.

Maybe these guys were all playing the cripple card and throwing themselves at the mercy of the court. I don’t know. But it must not have worked very well because they all got convicted.

The judge dismissed my parking ticket so maybe my crippledness worked for me. Or maybe I just presented a good case. I don't know and I didn’t ask. I just thanked him and got the hell out of there.

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Sunday, October 30, 2022

A Dog Freaked Out


I was taking a leisurely afternoon stroll around a campground. Coming toward me was a man walking a dog.

 When the dog saw me he freaked out. He was immediately on high alert. His ears went up like antenna. He stiffened and then did an agitated dance. And then he hid behind the legs of his human walker

The human laughed uneasily and apologized to me on behalf of the dog.

“That’s all right,” I said. “He’s afraid of the wheelchair. I’ve seen it before.”

I’ve also gotten the opposite reaction from dogs. I once came across a woman walking a big dog and when the dog saw me he started panting heavily and dancing for joy. The dog seemed bent on jumping on my lap and smothering me with sloppy kisses. The dog stood up on his hind legs as the woman pulled back hard on his leash to keep him away from me.

“I’m sorry,” the woman said to me. “His favorite person is in a wheelchair.”

That’s what I love about dogs. They’re honest. They don’t bull shit around about how they feel.

Anyway, the man walking his dog around the campground gestured toward my wheelchair and said, “It's just that he’s never seen one of those before. He’ll get used to it.”

The man and his dog proceeded on past me. The dog looked at me suspiciously the whole time.

That encounter made me feel hopeful and optimistic. It made me feel grateful for my crippled ancestors who came before me. Because that dog freaked out like a lot of humans freak out when they encounter a cripple, only the humans aren’t honest enough to admit it.  Instead of doing agitated dances, humans react in more subtle ways, like not making eye contact or building things with steps on the front entrance so cripples can’t get in.

 But life has generally gotten better. Navigating through each day is smoother for me than it was for the generation of cripples that came before me and the generation that came before them. And that’s because more and more of those cripples didn’t stay home and hide.  They went out and about and eventually humans didn’t freak out as much. They got used to us.

And I  have faith that things will go even smoother in the future for the criplets of today because I’m out and about.

I really enjoyed my afternoon stroll.

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Monday, October 17, 2022

Cripples in Heat


I never received sex education in school. I’m sure there are two main reasons why.

The first reason was probably because that was during the 1960s and early 1970s, when sex education wasn’t a regular feature of school curricula. But the biggest reason was probably because the schools I went to prior to college were for cripples only and whereas the idea of talking about sexuality in school was controversial enough at the time, the idea of uttering a word about sex in a school full of cripples would’ve been considered downright perverted. Hell, it was the kind of thing that might even get you arrested.

Because for some reason, some people seem to think that cripples aren’t interested in sex and it’s best to keep it that way. Maybe they think that cripples spend all of our time suffering and suffering takes up all of our limited time and energy so we don’t get around to worrying about things like getting laid. I think it comes from the perspective that sees cripples as childlike, no mater how old we are. And so exposing cripples to sex in any way is like exposing children to sex. It practically makes you a pedophile.

One thing I know about people who believe stuff like that is that they must not know any cripples very well. Cripples are probably the horniest people I know.  It seems like cripples are always in heat. You know what I mean if you’ve ever been to a large gathering of cripples, like a conference or a convention or a protest action or something, and witnessed everyone buzzing around trying to get laid.

But even though the education system didn’t tell us criplets anything about how sex works, we figured it out anyway, like all kids do. I don’t recall how I figured it out. I think that I just kept my ears open and one day it all clicked. They say that if a kid has questions about sex, they’re supposed to ask their parents about it. But those were the last people I thought about asking because I assumed they didn’t know a damn thing about such stuff. And when I did figure out how it all worked, my parents were the last people I wanted tell because I thought I knew some deep, dark secret they did know and if I tried to explain it to them they’d be all grossed out. But when  I figured out that part, too, I was the one who was grossed out.

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Friday, October 7, 2022

The Inspiring Story of Bucket Foot Bob


I went to a support group meeting for cripples. A new guy limped in. He clanged when he walked because his right foot was stuck in a bucket.

Even all us cripples couldn’t help but stare at him and some even snickered. But the new guy just kept walking straight on in and sat in a chair. He propped his right foot up on a stool in front of him.

The facilitator of our group said, “I’d like everyone to welcome our visitor, Bucket Foot Bob.”

Bucket Foot Bob jumped right in and said, “Actually, my name is Maurice. But you can call me Bucket Foot Bob if you want to. Why not? Everybody else does. I used to hate that name but now I’m trying to learn to embrace it.”

Bucket Foot Bob continued. “Because as you can see, my foot is stuck in a bucket. I don’t know how it happened. One night I got blackout drunk and when I woke up in the morning, there it was. And having my foot stuck in a bucket has cost me dearly in life. I have been the victim of much discrimination. I lost my job. My boss told me that my clanging around the office was too distracting for my coworkers. My wife left me. She said I wasn’t the same man she married anymore, what with my foot stuck in a bucket and all. My landlord evicted me because the people in the apartment below mine complained that I made too much noise when I  walked.”

As I listened to Bucket Foot Bob’s sad story, I felt real sorry for him, but I wondered why he didn’t just have the bucket removed.

And then Bucket Foot Bob said, “You’re probably wondering why I don’t just have the bucket removed. Well, don’t you think I’ve tried that? I mean, my foot is really jammed in there good. I’ve tried everything to get it out. I’ve tried crow bars. I’ve tried lard. But my foot won’t budge.

“My only option is to have it surgically removed. But that operation costs $10,000. I have health insurance, but it doesn’t cover bucket removal. Maybe someday we’ll have socialized medicine in this country and I’ll be able to have my bucket removed, no cost and no questions asked. But until then, I’m stuck, no pun intended.”

Bucket Foot Bob said, “So that’s why I’m here. I’m looking for a community of like-minded people who will welcome me as one of their own. I used to be embarrassed by my bucket but now I’m rather proud of it. It’s part of who I am. It doesn’t dehumanize me. It humanizes me. It makes a statement that says, ‘Yes, I’m a slapstick klutz. But isn’t everyone?’ And so, my brothers and sisters, I hope you will accept me into your tribe.”

The facilitator said, “I move that we accept Bucket Foot Bob into our group! All in favor say aye!


The vote was unanimous!

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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Smart Ass Cripple's Disease


I need to hurry up and  become super famous. I’m talking about that rare Lou Gehrig level of fame.

It’s a daunting task but I think I can do it. I’m certainly motivated enough to try. Because there’s one  glaringly unachieved goal remaining on my bucket list. I want to be famous enough to have a disease named after me.

And I want to do it the hard way, like Lou Gehrig did. I feel like any old punk can take the shortcut by discovering a disease and then having it named after them, like Alzheimer or Parkinson. That seems like cheating.

But when a disease is named after you just because you have it, now that’s famous! But it has to be a certain kind of famous. Look at Michael J. Fox, for instance. He has Parkinson’s, but they still call it Parkinson’s. I’ve never heard about any groundswell to rename it Michael J. Fox’s disease. I guess he's not famous in the right way.

And what about Stephen Hawking ? He’s just as famous as Lou Gehrig, but nobody calls what made him crippled Stephen Hawking’s Disease. Maybe it’s a matter of first come first serve and  Lou Gehrig beat him to it. Or maybe you have to have the kind of fame that is free from all taint of infamy. Some people might consider Stephen Hawking to be a bit bawdy. Maybe someday something will happen  to sully Lou Gehrig’s good name. Like maybe it’ll come out that his hobby was kicking puppies. Then maybe he’ll be stripped of his disease and the title will be awarded to Stephen Hawking.

But I’m at the stage of life where a man thinks a lot about his legacy, and I really want mine to include having that which has made me crippled renamed Smart Ass Cripple’s Disease. I believe I’m crippled because of something called Spinal Muscular Atrophy aka SMA. I’ve never been officially diagnosed because it really doesn’t matter to me.  Knowing what makes me crippled doesn’t make me any less crippled.

So I’m halfway toward achieving my goal. I already have a disease. Now I just have to figure out how to get famous enough to have SMA renamed Smart Ass Cripple’s Disease. But that probably won’t ever happen. I’m too bawdy.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Polio Fucking Awareness Month

 This month is Polio Fucking Awareness Month, as declared by me. I just think that considering how things have been going lately, we could all use a lot more fucking awareness about polio.

I mean, back about 60 years ago, I attended a public elementary school for cripples that was very exclusive. By that I mean that the kids who were students there were all very excluded from our neighborhood public schools.

We called some of our fellow students polios because that’s why they were crippled. They caught the polio virus.

The polios were all older than me because a few years earlier a polio vaccine was developed so no one caught polio anymore. And getting vaccinated was easy as hell. When I got mine, I just ate a sugar cube with a red spot on it. It was ridiculous. I couldn’t believe that’s all I had to do to keep from ever catching fucking polio.

I guess people don’t eat sugar cubes anymore, judging by the stuff I’ve been reading lately. I guess if you want to get vaccinated against fucking polio, you have to get a shot in the arm. But so fucking what? That sure beats the hell out of catching fucking polio.

But now I see where fucking polio is making a comeback. People in New York are catching fucking polio.

I can’t believe it! And it’s still the case that if you don’t ever want to get fucking polio, all you have to do is take the goddam vaccine!

I don’t know what the hell is going on. I hope this isn’t yet another example of the kind of shit that happens when there are a lot of douche bags running around who think not being vaccinated against anything makes them hip and cool, when all it does is put them in the asshole vanguard. And they think it’s their inalienable Constitutional right to cough in everyone else’s face like Typhoid Fucking Mary, free from government interference. I swear if anything is going to wipe out the whole human race it’ll be goddam libertarianism!

Maybe these morons will help polio make such a roaring comeback that a new strain will develop that will smash through the vaccination wall and send us all back to square fucking one. Then they’ll be real proud of themselves!

Okay but to be fair (which I really hate to do), the stuff I’ve been reading lately also says that some people don’t know whether or not they’re vaccinated against polio.

Fair enough. If you don’t remember eating a sugar cube or getting a shot in the arm, then go find out if you’ve ever received the polio vaccine. If you haven’t, then get it. Jesus Christ, I can’t believe this is even up for debate!

I hope I’ve raised a little fucking awareness about fucking polio. Thank you for your time.

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