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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