Monday, January 8, 2024

Big Cripple on Campus

 John the paraplegic was the big cripple on campus at the state operated boarding school for cripples that I attended in the 1970s (which I refer to as the  Sam Houston Institute of  Technology or SHIT).

Actually, John was more like the vice big cripple on campus. The actual big cripple on campus was Ron the paraplegic. Paras usually have muscular upper bodies because they push a wheelchair all day. You had to be that kind of cripple in order to be the big cripple on campus at SHIT. There was no election to obtain this most prestigious status. An unspoken consensus developed among the SHIT inmates as to who was the big cripple on campus, based on which cripple we all felt could beat the other cripples asses. (It was pretty much the same way a wolf pack determines its hierarchy.) And since Ron was even more muscular than John, everyone figured that he could beat John’s crippled ass, too.

But this cataclysmic clash of the titans was never likely to occur because Ron was a much more peaceful guy who didn’t seem too interested in fighting. If John was to challenge him to a duel, Ron would probably just chuckle, yield the title and roll away.

John, on the other hand, was much more of a boisterous bully. He acted like he was looking for a good excuse to beat everybody’s ass. One day I saw him with a silver ring on his finger and I feared that meant that he was setting me up for an ass beating. Because it looked exactly like my ring that had recently come up missing.

So I went up to John's table in the mess hall, very sheepishly, and told him that appeared to be my missing ring.

John said, “Man, I didn’t steal no ring! This is my ring!” He continued eating, acting like I wasn’t even there. I interpreted that as his way of telling me to either go away or get my ass beat. So I went away.

When I told my mother about all of this, she was livid. She told me to point out to her which cripple was John the next time she went to SHIT and she would rip the ring off of his finger.

But I never did that because the only fate worse than an ass beating was being shunned by the other SHIT  inmates for being a snitch,

I haven’t seen John since I graduated from SHIT nearly 50 years ago. But he didn’t end up with much in terms of spoils. It was a cheap ring. It probably turned his finger green. The red jewel atop the ring was probably a hunk of  plastic.

If I ever run into a crippled old man with  one arm, I’ll figure that must be John. I’ll figure my ring must’ve turned his whole arm green and he had to have it amputated.

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