Thursday, May 30, 2024

My Adolescent Expertise


As I recall, they pulled me out of class one day at the state-operated boarding school for cripples, which I refer to as the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT).

I was worried that I did something wrong. But what?

“Miss Joyce wants to see you in her office,” I was told. But what could I have possibly done wrong that would make them send me to  Miss Joyce’s office? Miss Joyce was the head of recreation. Her office was right next to the gym.

I was escorted to Miss Joyce’s office. She greeted me with a big smile. “Its so great to see you!” she said to me. And then she said, “I sent for you because I’m going to a costume party. My costume is going to be Poland.” She said she wanted to cover her costume, which would be a hunk of papier mache shaped like the country of Poland, with Polack jokes. “I understand that you know a lot of Polack jokes,” Miss Joyce said. “Can you tell  me some?”

 For those of you who weren’t around back then, there was a genre of jokes known as Polack jokes. And the point of each of these jokes was to illustrate how incredibly stupid all Polish people were supposed to be.

And it’s true that I had a million Polack jokes in my repertoire and I told them every chance I got. This was my adolescent expertise. I remember some of my Polack jokes  but I won’t tell them  anyway because they’re all pretty dumb. But on that day I regaled Miss Joyce with Polack jokes and she took copious notes. I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t come through for her that day. Would I have been punished? Maybe I would’ve been restricted to my room until I came up with some good Polack jokes.

As far as I know, my encounter with Mis Joyce was not video taped or recorded for posterity in any way. I’m grateful for that. That was a simpler time when a guy could make jokes about how incredibly stupid all Polish people are and get a big laugh. But now I would be ostracized, as if I was helping Miss Joyce put on black face.

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Friday, May 17, 2024

The Unintended Consequences of Cripple Awareness Campaigns

 I still assume that maybe it’s safe for me to wear  a red shirt when I shop at Target, because I ‘m crippled. But I’m not so sure anymore.

If there’s anybody out there who has never shopped at Target, you need to know that all of their employees wear red shirts. Thus, if you wear a red shirt to Target, it’s quite likely that another shopper will flag you down and ask you where they can find motor oil or yogurt or whatever. The most foolproof strategy for avoiding this annoyance is to never wear a red shirt when you go to Target.

But I always thought that wearing a red shirt would be no problem for me because even more conspicuous than my red shirt would be the motorized wheelchair I’m always sitting in. I figured that that would cancel out my red shirt because most people would see it and think that cripples aren’t capable of doing anything as lofty as working at Target. So I must just be some random crippled  old man whose nurse put a red shirt on him this morning.

But the last time I went to Target I went to the men’s department and there were various pictures posted around that featured young men smiling big and really enjoying their lives while wearing the items of menswear that were for sale. And one of those young men was in a wheelchair.

That means that Target is trying to convey the message that cripples are people, too. And if enough people who shop at Target come to believe, as a result of this cripple awareness campaign, that cripples are people, too, then they might also come to believe that therefore, cripples must also be capable of working at Target.

And if that happens, I’ll probably have to  think about whether or not I might end up at Target, before I put on a red shirt.

Sometimes cripple awareness campaigns have unintended consequences.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Cripple Spaz Fights

 You could find just about every genre of cripple at the state-operated boarding school from which I graduated 50 years ago. I refer to this school as the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT).

There were bleeders and polios and amputees. You name it. There were spastic kids. We called them spazzes. Every now and then their arms and or legs would suddenly start flailing around involuntarily and uncontrollably, especially when they got agitated. When that happened, you’d  better stay away from them or you might accidentally get punched in the face and/or kicked in the crotch.

One of the spazzes was particularly big and strong. His name was Arnie. One day Arnie was being fed by one of the housemothers. (The men and women who helped the cripples get in and out of bed and wiped our butts and stuff like that were called our houseparents.) And, right out of the blue, Arnie spazzed and his fist came down like a hammer right on top of the housemother’s head. Arnie didn’t mean to do it. But he knocked the housemother right out of her chair and she said she saw stars.

I wish I had an entrepreneurial spirit back then. I could have seized the opportunity to make a lot of money. I could have organized Cripple Spaz Fights. Just roll two spastic cripples into a ring, set them side by side, lock their wheelchair brakes and let them have an t it. Someone in corner crews for the spastic cripples might have to do something from afar to get them agitated, like tickling them with a really long feather.

But people probably would have come from far and wide to watch these fights and place bets. Hell, people come from far and wide to watch roosters and dogs fight to the death and place bets. So why not cripples?

Arnie would have been the champ.

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