Thursday, October 19, 2017

I'd Rather Have my Leg Cut Off



If I wasn’t already crippled and had to choose to become crippled either by amputation or spinal cord injury, I’d choose amputation any old day. It must be a helluva lot easier becoming an amputee than a quad because the media doesn’t put as much shit in your head.

If you’re a quad, the media has put forth lots of role models for you to follow. And that’s the problem. Remember when Christopher Reeve fell off his horse? Or how about all those people who get spinal cord injuries playing football? There are always always always media stories about how these courageous people are determined to overcome their injuries and return to their glory days of uncrippledness.

So if I was freshly crippled due to spinal cord injury, I’d be inclined to think that my primary obligation as a cripple to myself and everybody else was to become uncrippled as soon as humanly possible. Anything less is a dereliction of duty. So I’d be inclined to spend a thousand hours a week working out in a physical therapy gym in a quest to fulfill my obligation to society.

I’m glad Stephen Hawking didn’t feel that way. It would be pretty fucked up if he spent all day sitting motionless in a physical therapy gym instead of pondering the universe and shit. I’m glad we don’t see him being interviewed on television with the robot voice of his talking box saying, “I will not rest until I can talk again.”

But anyway, suppose when Christopher Reeve fell off his horse he ended up having to have his leg cut off instead. That would have caused the media’s head to explode. They wouldn’t have had a clue what to do with that. Because if Christopher Reeve vowed to do whatever it takes to grow his leg back, even the media would’ve thought that was silly. We all would’ve just had to accept the new normal of a one-legged Christopher Reeve. You can’t spin it any other way.

That’s why I bet it’s a helluva lot easier to become crippled via amputation. You’re allowed to advance immediately to the stage of accepting your new crippled self and figuring out what it all means. You can get on with it. There aren’t any role models in the media fucking everything up.






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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Holbrook's Cripple Nicknames


Holbrook was a guy who lived in my dorm when I was in college. He came from one of those teeny towns where there are no cripples, so I doubt that he ever got a good look at a cripple until he got to college. But he made up lots of funny nicknames for many of the crippled students he saw puttering around campus. The nicknames were sort of like smart ass secret service code names. To me that was a sure sign that he felt really comfortable around cripples or really uncomfortable. I’m not sure which.

There was one cripple that propelled his wheelchair by pushing it backwards with his feet. Holbrook called him Crawdaddy. There was another cripple Holbrook often saw eating in the dorm mess hall. This cripple tilted his head far back and his feeder dropped food into his open mouth. Holbrook called this cripple Baby Bird.

There was another cripple who always walked really fast and on the tips of her toes like she was walking on hot coals. Holbrook called her Hot Foot. And there was another cripple who also walked weird. He swayed from side to side and waved his arms around and did lots of involuntary fancy footwork. Holbrook called him Fred Astaire.

More than once I told Holbrook I wanted to know what his cripple nickname was for me. But he always insisted that he didn’t have one. “Come on!” I said. “You can tell me! I can take it!” But he just held up his hands, all innocent and shit.

When I asked other guys around the dorm what Holbrook’s nickname for me was, they all said he didn’t have one. I was convinced that they all entered into a secret pact to never divulge to a cripple his/her Holbrook nickname. It’s much funnier that way. But eventually I started to believe that maybe Holbrook really hadn’t come up with anything for me. I felt kind of insulted.

But as I look back, I can see where I might have been a stumper for Holbrook. As cripples go, I’m pretty one-dimensional. I ride around in a motorized wheelchair and that’s about it.

You can’t really call me Spazzo. And I don’t drool, at least not when I’m sober. I don’t walk weird. I don’t walk at all. And there’s nothing weird about the way I don’t walk.

I have kind of a big head. But that doesn’t have anything to do with me being crippled. If I was cured, I’d still have a big head. And it’s not grotesquely big. You can’t rightfully call me the Wizard of Oz or anything like that.

My trunk balance is poor, which makes me pretty floppy. Holbrook maybe could have riffed on that and called me Scarecrow or Jellyfish. My legs are thin and spindly. If Holbrook saw me wearing shorts, that might have inspired something in him. Flamingo Legs?

But that’s a real stretch. Try as he might, if Holbrook pondered a cripple nickname for me, he probably couldn’t come up with anything better than That Crippled Guy Down the Hall.




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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Your Incontinence Will Not Save You



I talked to this guy who’s as crippled as I am and he told me all about how he spent several years in prison. He said he was set up. Someone used him as a drug mule without him knowing it.

This guy needs as much help as I do. He needs someone to drag his ass out of bed every morning, lift him on and off the crapper, etc. But they still sent his ass to prison!

Damn! That’s cold! There are a lot of things that I figure being crippled will probably get me out of. Like for instance, carjacking. I wouldn’t be too worried if someone came up to me in my cripple van and said, “Get out of the car, motherfucker!” Because I would say, “Well okay, I’m happy to oblige. But just give me a sec while my driver here comes around and unhooks the safety restraints securing my wheelchair. Then we’ll deploy the ramp so I can exit through the sliding passenger door and you’ll be on your way. It shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes. Stand back now. I wouldn’t want the ramp to swing out and hit your tootsies.” By that time, the carjacker would say fuck it and go jack the next guy.

Being an incontinent cripple will get you out of even more stuff. Flaunting your incontinence comes in real handy in those moments in life when you want people to just back the hell off. Often I wish I had a t-shirt that says, I AM INCONTINENT, even though I’m not. If a carjacker saw me in that shirt he’d probably take off running before he could even say, “Get out of the car, motherfucker!” I would also wear that shirt when I’m sitting on a plane and the other passengers are filing in and I bet you a million nobody would sit next to me unless it was absolutely the last fucking seat on the whole damn plane. And even then they’d probably say to the flight attendant, “That’s okay. I’ll stand. I’m good.”

And I would for sure wear that shirt if I was in court being sentenced for a crime. I would hope it would make the judge and the prosecutor say to themselves, “Damn, this guy’s incontinent, too? We don’t want to deal with all that. Let’s just give him probation or something.”

Maybe that crippled guy who went to prison should have pleaded incontinence, even though he’s not. Maybe that would have saved him. But then again, maybe not. The judge and prosecutor might’ve said hell with it; he can go to prison and piss his pants. There may be times when even incontinence isn’t enough to get you off the hook.



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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Oppressor Eats a Hog

When you’re trying to resist the oppressor, it’s really fucking hard to just relax and have fun.

Let’s s say the oppressor has dinner, okay? He eats a hog. And a wonderful hog it is, too. It’s the most exquisitely corpulent and succulent hog of the bunch. The oppressor and his friends have a big party and they eat every bit of the hog. Well, maybe not every bit. The oppressor tosses some hog bits to you because he knows that in order to keep oppressing you he has to keep you alive. You can’t oppress a dead person.

So the oppressor says, “Let them eat hog scraps,” and he fills your trough with the tail, the feet, the jowls, the snout. And here’s when your dilemma kicks in. It really pisses you off that the oppressor tosses you the scraps. Hell, you’re probably the one who slaughtered the hog for the oppressor, if not literally then at least figuratively.

So what do you do? Do you refuse to eat scraps? Do you tell the oppressor to shove his stinkin’ pigtails up his ass? Because settling for eating pigtails is exactly what the oppressor wants you to do. So maybe the best act of resistance is a hunger strike.

But maybe not. Maybe getting pissed off is exactly what the oppressor wants you to do. Maybe the oppressor wants you to be perpetually miserable. The oppressor hates to see you having fun! So maybe the best act of resistance is to take those hog scraps and have a party of your own. Come up with all kinds of fancy hog scrap recipes— jowls fricassee, snout a l’orange. Invite your friends and enjoy the hell out of those hog scraps in the full view of that fucking asshole oppressor! That’ll really piss him off because he’ll see that even his hog scraps can’t break you.

But maybe not. Maybe if you take the oppressor’s hog scraps and turn it into a party, you’re falling for the old bread-and-circus routine. That’s the oldest trick in the book. The oppressor loves to see you having fun! If you’re blowing off steam then it’s a lot less likely that the pressure cooker will blow up in his face. His piddly hog scraps are mere appeasements! You should throw them back in his face!

But maybe not. If the oppressor feels the need to supply you with circus, then he must fear your wrath. So maybe the best act of resistance is to keep that fear alive by keeping yourself alive and strong! Eat the hog scraps! Eat them with gusto!

But maybe not. Because like I said before, you can’t oppress a dead person. So maybe the best act of resistance is a hunger strike after all.

But maybe not.

See what I mean? When you’re trying to resist the oppressor, it’s really fucking hard to just relax and have fun.
=========================

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

A New Book by Smart Ass Cripple!



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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Lapping Jesus


There are some people who live such intense lifestyles that they are destined not to last very long, such as Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Jesus.

Poor Jesus only lasted about 33 years. Hell, even I blew him away long ago. Now my goal is to lap him. In other words, I want to pass him a second time on the longevity track. That means I have to make it to age 66, which will take a little less than five years for me to accomplish.

I don’t have a competitive grudge against Jesus. I’m not out to prove anything special by trying to lap him. It’s just that we all need milestones in our lives to shoot for. It keeps us moving. And this one seems as good as any so why not? And I just might make it. You never know. Yeah, my life is stressful. Whose isn’t? But I’m sure I’m nowhere near as stressed out as Jesus was. He had all the pressure that comes with trying to be the great messiah that’s going to save the human race from cannibalizing itself. I don’t have to worry about being the messiah anymore. I gave up on that a few years back.

I’ll make it with a little help from my friends and socialism. Hustling your ass off is a lot of stress. But as long as public funds are still available to pay the wages of the members of my pit crew who get me out of bed every morning, that’s 90 percent of the game. And when you’re trying to lap Jesus, it sure helps to have abundant access to affordable healthcare, too.

I’m sure as I get closer to lapping Jesus I’ll up the ante some. That’s how it works with milestones. When my mother had leukemia in the 1990s, she said she only wanted to live to see the magical year of 2000. Then when it got to be 1998 or so, she adjusted that up to the magical year of 2002. Come 2001, she adjusted her milestone up yet again to an unspecified future date.

So I sincerely doubt that I’ll be all ready to go the day after I lap Jesus. By then I’ll probably be shooting to lap Jesus twice, which would take me to age 99. But I’ll worry about that when the time comes. For now I’m inspired to march on by that picture in my mind’s eye of a gravestone that says, Here Lies Smart Ass Cripple. He Lapped Jesus.





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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Emerged


It’s a great time to be an “emerging” cripple. Available to you are many wonderful opportunities that have ships on the end—internships, scholarships, fellowships.

The definition of emerging appears to be fluid. Sometimes it comes with an upper age limit of about 25 or so. But otherwise cripples are left to decide for ourselves if we are emerging enough to pursue the opportunity. Regardless, emerging implies young. There’s a certain age range beyond which if you haven’t emerged, the consensus is that you’re not ever going to.

When I was young enough to be an emerging cripple, no one ever called us that. Emerging cripple was an oxymoron. We weren’t expected to emerge out of or into much of anything.

I guess I’m way too old to be considered an emerging anything anymore. But if I’m not emerging, then what am I? All that’s left for me to be is emerged.

I don’t begrudge emerging cripples their emergingness. I hope they all emerge with a vengeance. I just a have hard time viewing myself as emerged. It’s depressing. To be emerged might sound like a pretty cool place to be—a blissful state of retired paradise for elder statesmen. But to me, being emerged pretty much sounds like being dead. That’s the only time I think I’ll be fully emerged in every way. Maybe being emerged is a cool place to be. But to be emerging is way cooler. You’re considered to be emerging when people think you have something important to offer. But if you’re emerged, then what?

I’ll tell you when it really hits me how fucking emerged I am. It’s when I watch TV shows with commercials for funeral insurance.

I could put a positive spin on it. I could tell myself that I'm not old, I'm emerged. Maybe I should embrace my emerged status as a gift and reward. Maybe all the emerging cripples dream of the day when they will be emerged.

But I don’t know. I hope I have some more emerging to do.




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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Fill in the Blank Awareness Month


It's easy to raise public "awareness" about some things.

First, you pick a disease. Arthritis? Autism? Okay I know autism isn’t a disease but humor me for now.

How about scurvy? Let’s go with that. Suppose you want to raise scurvy awareness. First, you declare Scurvy Awareness Month/Week/Day. If you stake your claim to a whole month, you have more time to carry out your scurvy awareness campaign. But the odds are great that dozens of other people who are bent on raising awareness about something else have also claimed that same month so you’ll have to hustle hard to raise more awareness than they do and not be squelched. If you settle for an awareness day, you’ll have to cram your awareness activities into a 24-hour period. But since there are many more days in a year than there are months, there’s probably a lot less competition.

Next, you pick a color to symbolize scurvy awareness. But again, chances are that the most popular and beloved colors are already spoken for by countless other awareness campaigns. So you might be stuck with an obscure color with less instant name recognition, like burnt umber.

Once you have a color, then you get a bunch of ribbons or armbands or stuff like that made up in that color and then you get famous people to wear them in public, preferably athletes. So if you can get all the football players to wear burnt umber shoes during their games on Scurvy Awareness Day, you’ve got it made!

But like I said, raising awareness isn’t so easy for some things. I'm thinking about the days back in the 1980s when there was no cripple accessible public transit in Chicago. Cripples who were pissed off about it were trying to raise awareness about the fact that the board of directors of the Chicago Transit Authority was fucking us over. I suppose we could have designated a CTA Board is Fucking Over Cripples Awareness Day. We could have picked a color to symbolize the CTA board fucking over cripples and had a bunch of ribbons made. But getting famous people to wear those ribbons in public would have been the hard part. It’s a lot easier to get people on board when it’s a disease. Everybody hates diseases.

But once you’ve made everybody aware, so what? Big deal. What you’re really trying to do is get people off their asses to do something. Like if somebody is trying to saw your head off and you scream, what you’re doing when you scream is you’re trying to make others aware that someone is trying to saw your head off. But unless it results in a passerby taking action that prevents you from having your head sawed off, what good is it?

Some people, when they hear a call to action, don’t have to be asked twice. They’ll be right there with the homemade, all-purpose, emergency protest sign they keep in the trunk of their car. For others, your awareness campaign will bring out the “in-kind” generosity in them. They’ll ship dead grandma’s old wheelchair that’s cluttering up the basement off to the earthquake victims. Others only act when the threat posed by inaction is clear and present. They’ll give to the Sierra Club when the flood waters are up to their windowsill and a polar bear floats by on a runaway hunk of glacier.

You’re also more inclined to get citizens to act when what you’re asking them to do isn’t burdensome. Like with scurvy awareness, you’re just trying to get people to eat more citrus fruit and vegetables. It’s easy to persuade people to do that. Actually, maybe not.



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Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Great Imperialist



Three young women stand huddled on the corner of State and Jackson in downtown Chicago. The middle one holds a cell phone. They all stare at the screen.

“Excuse me,” the middle one says to me as I pass. I can tell she’s about to ask me for directions. I’m flattered. I’m always flattered when pedestrians look past my crippledness and ask me for directions. It shows that they think I look like the type of guy who knows his way around, even though I’m crippled. It gives me hope for humanity.

The middle one says, “Can you tell us how to find Starbucks?"

It just so happens that I’m an expert on that subject: Starbucks locations in downtown Chicago.

“Well,” I say, “there’s one across the street in Barnes & Noble.”

I live on the edge of downtown Chicago. When I sit on my shower chair in my bathtub, if my bathroom door and kitchen blinds are open, I can see the logo on the Starbucks across the street. There’s nowhere to hide!

“Or,” I say, "If you go one block east to Wabash, there’s another one there.”

The thing I really hate most about Starbucks is that they’re all so goddam wheelchair accessible. I wish I could find one, just one, that isn’t accessible so I could sue the hell out of them!

“Or,” I say, "If you go one block north to Adams, there’s another one there.”

My burning desire to sue Starbucks is as fierce as my burning desire to sue a casino. Except my motivations are different. Suing a casino would bring me the same satisfaction as kicking a big, brash bully right square in the balls. Suing a Starbucks would bring me the same satisfaction as tripping a prom queen— just to show everybody that she’s not such a perfect little princess. That's the same reason I want to sue Disneyland.

“Or,” I say, "If you go three blocks north to Macy’s, there are two more in there.”

But I guess if I want to sue Starbucks, I’ll have to spill a hot drink on myself.

“Or,” I say, "If you go a half a block from Macy’s ---”

“That's all right!” the middle woman says. “We’ll go to the one across the street. Thank you.” The light turns green and they hustle off.

But wait a minute! I was just getting warmed up.


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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Kept


I have a hard time being a hardass with my dogs. I don’t even know what to call myself in relation to them. I sure as hell don’t want to call myself their master. I don’t even want to call myself their owner. It’s all so human centric.

I try to put myself in my dogs' shoes. My dogs don’t literally wear shoes but you know what I mean. Would I like it if the guy who walks me around called himself my master? I’d be insulted. I’d want to bite him.

I even feel guilty keeping them on a leash when they're outside. I feel like I’m treating them like hostages.

I know it’s stupid. I know they’re just dogs but I can’t help it. It’s a hang up I have. It’s a cripple thing. If there’s one thing I never ever ever want to be it’s kept. I know how it feels to be kept. And so if I treat any other creature that way, even a dog, I feel like a flaming hypocrite.

A kept cripple is very much like a kept woman, except kept women get better benefits. In exchange for surrendering her autonomy and identity for a rich benefactor, a kept woman will usually get put up in a mansion with servants at her beck and call and shit like that. At least that makes the deal somewhat attractive

But not so for kept cripples. Kept cripples are the ones who are stuck in those putrid nursing homes. In exchange for surrendering their autonomy and identity, what do they get from the rich benefactor who owns the nursing home? Well, they get one shower a week and green bologna for lunch.

But then again, more is required of a kept woman than of a kept cripple. A kept woman is expected to cater to the needs of her benefactor. Kept cripples just have to shut the fuck up and play bingo.

I was once a kept cripple. When I was a teenager, I was an inmate at a state boarding school for cripples, which I refer to as the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT). Of all the kept cripples at SHIT, the keptest were the kids they called wards of the state. They never had any family come around or anything.

But anyway, when it comes to my dogs, I suppose I could get used to calling myself their human. John, one of the members of my pit crew, says maybe I should call myself their facilitator. Sounds like a good idea.



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Thursday, August 17, 2017

The March of the Penis Posse



Watch out! The March of the Penis Posse may be coming soon to your town!

The Penis Posse is a small but rapidly growing group of resentful young men who were born with a penis and say they are fighting back in the war on penises. They’re not afraid to acknowledge the fact that penises are constantly under attack in today’s emasculated society and they have all taken a solemn oath to preserve and defend the proud heritage of the penis.

The members of the Penis Posse are fiercely proud of their penises and they pledge their allegiance to them every day. This is the bond they share. Their meetings are like tent revivals. Members stand and tell the story of that glorious moment when they came to realize the full magnitude of what it means to possess a penis. It’s an exhilarating rite of passage in the life of every boy when he understands that the penis is so much more than just a funny-looking appendage and how awesome it is to have one. It’s very much like that big dramatic scene in the Miracle Worker when that brat Helen Keller finally realizes what water is.

This is why the members of the Penis Posse are not afraid to speak out against the dire threat posed the “impostors,” which is what they call all those who acquire a penis by any means other than directly from the hand of God. This, the Penis Posse believes, dishonors and dispossesses the penis. The “impostors “ are the sworn enemies of the Penis Posse.

For many years, the Penis Posse was a shadowy, underground organization. But lately they’ve been feeling emboldened because they believe they now have many kindred spirits in Washington. So they hold raucous rallies where they vow to never let the government take their penises away. They march brandishing their trademark giant papier mache penis, which looks a lot like those dragons in Chinese New Year parades, except it’s bald and white.

The mission of the Penis Posse is to “re-testosterize” America. They want to return to what they refer to as the “golden age of the penis.” They want to live in a state where possessors of biological penises are in charge, which is why they like to be referred to as penis nationalists.

Later this year, the Penis Posse plans to hold its first annual March to Reclaim the Penis, which will culminate in a rally at the Washington Monument. The event will be made possible by a generous grant from the makers of Viagra.



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Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Way of the Polios



So here’s what makes me crippled: It turns out that my body evidently doesn’t produce survival motor neuron protein at high enough levels due to a mutation in my survival motor neuron 1 gene.

Really? That’s all it is? Sixty years and counting of dragging my crippled ass around and it’s all pretty much due to a fucking protein deficiency? Well I’ll be dipped in shit. It’s kind of like the Down Syndrome people. They all just have an extra chromosome. All the shit we give those folks and that’s the only difference between us and them.

Knowing that all I have is a protein deficiency is kind of a letdown. It makes me feel so ordinary. Some of the previous explanations for what makes a person become crippled like me were much more interesting, such as demonic possession or excessive masturbation.

And now, who knows, but maybe they’ll be able to treat my protein deficiency to the point where my species of cripple will soon become extinct. Because last December, the FDA approved a drug called Spinraza, which showed some positive results when tested on people who are crippled for the same reason I am.

So maybe someday there won’t be any new cripples like me in the pipeline and once all the old farts who have what I have die off we’ll all be gone. We will have gone the way of the polios. When I was a kid 50 years ago at the cripple school, there were polios all over the place. You couldn't spit without hitting a polio. But the only polios you see in these parts these days are old farts. And once they die off, the only place you’ll see polios anymore will be in old black-and-white photos. It’s true, however, that the polios could always make a comeback because, technically, they aren’t extinct.

But the sliptos are an extinct species of cripple. Back in cripple school about 50 years ago, there were these kids who’d show up one day walking on crutches with one leg tied behind their backs. They walked that way because they’d fucked up their hip somehow and their condition had some weird medical name that sounded like Slipped Hippy-feces. So we just called them sliptos. Gradually, these kids got better and returned to walking like regular kids walk so they were allowed to return to the schools for regular kids. You never see sliptos anymore. Either kids no longer fuck up their hips that way or if they do there’s a better way to fix it that doesn’t require them to walk around on crutches for a year with one leg tied behind their back.

Knowing that cripples like me could soon be extinct is kind of a letdown too. It feels weird to picture everybody looking at black-and-white photos of us and being glad we’re gone.



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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Jimmy the Badass Bleeder

There were some kids back in cripple elementary school that even I felt sorry for. I felt sorry for the bleeders, better known as the hemophiliacs. I mean, all the kids who were sent away to cripple school were considered to be “fragile,” but they were the fragilest

Nobody wanted to even come near those kids because we all feared that if we touched a bleeder the wrong way they would gush blood from the nearest orifice like a geyser. Nobody had ever actually seen one of the bleeder kids gush blood, but nobody wanted to be the first to find out if it was true.

The bleeders weren’t allowed to play any rough games like dodgeball in PE. That’s another reason I felt sorry for them. The fun games in PE were the rough games. But the bleeder kids were only allowed to keep score or play checkers with the brittle bones kids, who also weren’t allowed to play any rough games.

One of the most legendary kids at the cripple elementary school was Jimmy the Badass Bleeder. He was an older kid, like a seventh grader, so he mostly hung around the other end of the school which was fine with me because I was afraid of him. It seemed like every week a buzz went around the school about how Jimmy was sent to the principal’s office again for trying to pick a fight with someone. It was a win/win situation for Jimmy. He knew he could be any kind of asshole he wanted to be to the other crippled kids and nobody would fight back because imagine the kind of trouble you could get into if you punched out a bleeder and he gushed blood all over the place. You could probably get sent to the electric chair for something like that!

Legend had it that Jimmy was a punk who tripped kids and snatched away their lunches and stuff like that. If everybody was going to be afraid of him, he wanted it to be for the right reason, dammit! It was gonna be on his terms.

Well then one day Jimmy was gone. I don’t think he graduated so he must’ve gotten kicked out. That made him even more legendary because it was pretty damn hard to get kicked out of the cripple school. You’d have to be a super badass to make that happen. I don’t know what became of him. I imagine he’s dead because he could only successfully pull off his particular badass bit if everybody he picked a fight with first knew he was a bleeder. So unless he always wore a t-shirt that said CAUTION: I’M A BLEEDER, no doubt somebody punched him out. Did he gush blood all over the place?



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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Amazing Longevity of a Clam



I can definitely see the appeal of having an emotional support dog. A dog can go a long way toward cheering a person up, relieving stress and loneliness, etc. They’re a lot more of an organic treatment than drugs and alcohol.

But I don’t think I’d sign up to get an emotional support dog, or any kind of service dog, because I imagine there are big downsides. First off, having an emotional support dog probably greatly increases a person’s need to have an emotional support dog. Because the purpose of the dog is to relieve your stress but I bet a lot of that stress is caused by all the people who give you shit for trying to bring a dog into a public place.

That’s why if I was going to have an emotional support dog I’d get one of those pocket-size dogs like a Yorkie. And then I could just stuff it in my backpack and go in and out of public places all day long and nobody would hassle me because nobody would know the difference. I might have to put a little snorkel mask on the dog inside my backpack so it can get enough oxygen to stay alive and keep cheering me up. But that’s a small price to pay.

The biggest downside to me though would be that emotional support dogs have the same big problem that regular pet dogs have. They die. It sucks enormously when your regular pet dog dies so it must suck a million times worse when your emotional support dog dies, especially if it gets hit by a car or something. So if I was going to get an emotional support animal it would have to be an animal that has a long lifespan. Maybe a turtle. I hear turtles can live a hundred years. But I think that mostly applies to huge sea turtles, not to pocket-size pet turtles. The animal with a long lifespan that would best fit in my shirt pocket is a clam. A quahog clam can live 500 years. I know it’s a lot harder to form an emotional bond with a clam than it is with a dog. But I would derive comfort from knowing that my little buddy, whatever its species, isn’t likely to die on me soon. And the odds are very slim that a clam will get run over by a car, unless I get run over by a car while it’s in my shirt pocket. But I would never keep my emotional support clam in my shirt pocket anyway, for the same reason I never keep money or keys or anything else in my shirt pocket. I forget it’s in there and it ends up in the laundry. And I wouldn’t want to hear something rattling around in the dryer and come to the horrifying realization that it’s my emotional support clam.

So maybe if I want to try out an emotional support animal. I’ll start with a clam and see how it goes. If it doesn’t work out I could always eat it.





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Monday, July 17, 2017

And Then There Was That Time Winston Churchill Almost Got Punched Out in the Parking Lot of the Waffle House

Whenever I travel, I like to go to exotic places. That’s why I went to the Waffle House.

There aren’t any Waffle Houses in these parts. I don’t know why. I guess we’re just not part of the Waffle House’s key demographic up here.

But anyway, I was caravanning with some other guys to a cripple protest in Atlanta. There were four or five of us wheelchair cripples and a few verts (which is short for verticals, which is slang for people who can walk.) We spent the night somewhere in Tennessee. There was a Waffle House across the parking lot from our hotel. The lure was too much to resist, though I must admit that I felt some consternation about going there with a flock of cripples. I wasn’t sure how welcome cripples would be at the Waffle House. I didn’t think we were part of their key demographic.

But there was a ramp on the front entrance of the Waffle House, and a reasonable one at that. It wasn’t one of those steep and winding Evel Knievel ramps. Inside, the Waffle House was pretty much the Formica palace I expected it to be. And I survived the breakfast. I don’t remember what I ate, but I have a vague memory of it being greasy and fried.

So all in all it was undramatic, until we left and discovered that someone parked a pickup truck so that it was completely blocking the ramp. The truck was rusty and dusty and had an NRA bumper sticker. We were pissed. One of the wheelchair cripples rolled back inside. I shall refer to this cripple with an alias. Let’s call him Winston Churchill. So Winston Churchill rolled back inside and asked who the hell parked blocking the damn wheelchair ramp. This guy got up from a stool at the counter. He wore a cowboy hat and a Jack Daniels belt buckle. He walked outside and moved the truck away from the ramp. Winston Churchill and all the other cripples rolled down the ramp, except me. I stopped to look at the front page of a newspaper in a vending box by the front door.

And then the Jack Daniels guy put his truck right back where it was, blocking the ramp. Winston Churchill was really pissed now. When the Jack Daniels guy got out of his truck, Winston Churchill got all up in his face and said something like, “You’re still blocking the ramp, douche bag!”

The Jack Daniels guy was pissed now, too, and he said something back like, “Ain’t nobody who needs that ramp gonna be coming here before I’m finished eating!”

“What about him?” Winston Churchill said, pointing to me.

The Jack Daniels guy stomped back to his truck and backed it away from the ramp. I rolled down. When the Jack Daniels guy got back out of his truck, he slammed the door and got all up in Winston Churchill’s face. He said, “You know what, boy? Someday, with that mouth of yours, somebody’s gonna knock you out of that wheelchair. They ain’t gonna care if you’re handicapped!”

“Oh yeah?” said Winston Churchill. “Go ahead! Punch me!”

“It ain’t gonna be me! But someday!” said the Jack Daniels guy. His face was red. He shook a finger of warning at Winston Churchill and stomped back inside the Waffle House.

But at least his truck wasn’t blocking the ramp anymore.



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Friday, July 7, 2017

My Mother's Only Spa Vacation

My chair is tilted back into the full reclining position. Soft music plays. A young woman approaches me. Her smiling face hovers above. She asks if I’m comfortable. I say yes. She places sunglasses over my eyes. I close my eyes and try to relax. For the next half hour or so, I’m letting everything go. I’m not going to worry about how the governor is fucking cripples over. I’m not going to worry about Medicaid. For the next half hour, I can’t do anything about those things. I am going to treat myself to some sweet disengagement.

I’m settled in and comfy. I’m even getting drowsy. “Are you ready?” the young woman says. I say yes. “Open your mouth,” she says. I open my mouth. And then she starts scraping my teeth. This is the part I don’t like. A trip to the dental hygienist would be like a trip to the spa if I could skip the annoying dental hygiene part. I love the submissive recline position and the sunglasses. (That lamp that illuminates my face so the hygienist can see what she's doing sure is bright.) But I could do without her poking around in my mouth. I wish she was feeding me grapes instead. I wish the water she was squirting in my mouth was a pina colada in a ceramic pineapple.

And now I know how my mother felt. When I was about 10 years old, she sent my sister and me off to a neighbor’s house for a couple weeks while she went to a spa. She packed up her nightgowns, novels, crosswords puzzles. She told me how much she was looking forward to lying in bed and being pampered, not doing any cooking or housework, having meals brought to her room.

Except the spa was the hospital. She was going in for foot surgery. She was raising two crippled kids pretty much by herself and working as a waitress at the Kozy Korner diner. So not much time for herself. This was a good excuse to relax. Respite. Guilt-free detachment. Painkillers. Women like her didn’t get many opportunities to go to spas. They had to create their own. Too bad foot surgery was a mandatory part of the package.

My phone rings. The hygienist abruptly withdraws her fingers from my mouth and asks if I want to answer it. I look at her like she’s nuts. She resumes scraping my teeth. Is she serious? Do some people actually stop to answer their phone in the middle of getting their teeth cleaned? I feel sorry for those people. Don’t they ever relax?




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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Driving in Cripple Mode


Most people don’t naturally drive automobiles in cripple mode. It’s a very specialized thing. Whenever somebody drives me for the first time in my cripple van, I always instruct them thoroughly on how to drive in cripple mode. I tell them since I don’t have good trunk strength or balance, I can be a very floppy passenger. If they start or stop too hard or whip around on turns, I might flop around like a rag doll on a roller coaster. Therefore, until they get a good idea as to exactly what sort of g-forces my body can combat, they should drive as slow as an old lady on barbiturates. Don’t be intimidated by all the other impatient drivers blazing past us at the speed limit.

This is why all this talk about how someday soon there will be nothing but self-driven cars makes me ill. Once again, cripples like me will be left in the dust. It’s only within the last 10 years or so that cabs that are accessible for wheelchair cripples have been appearing with some frequency on the streets of some big cities. When a cripple cab arrives, the driver gets out and deploys a ramp. The cripple boards and then the driver secures the wheelchair to the floor with clamps and straps so that, in the event of an accident, the cripple isn’t catapulted through the windshield, wheelchair and all. And all the cab drivers are trained in the finer points of driving their cabs in cripple mode, though some appear to have resoundingly flunked.

But what happens when all the cripple cabs are self-driven? The invisible chauffeur with be just a warm and welcoming voice coming from the dashboard. It will have a warm and welcoming name such as Emmett. But who’s going to deploy the ramp and tie down the wheelchairs? Okay, maybe all that stuff will be automatic, too. But will I be able to say to my virtual chauffeur, “Emmett, please drive me in cripple mode?” Will it be programmed to do so? I really don’t think so. Emmett will probably go all 2001 on me. He’ll probably say, “I’m sorry, Mike, I'm afraid I can’t do that,” as the cab bolts away from the curb, tires squealing.

And there I’ll be, trapped in a self-driven cripple cab, flopping around like a rag doll on a roller coaster.




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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Thinking About Frankenstein

Whenever I see Barry, I think about Frankenstein. Because Barry walks like Frankenstein. I don’t know if he had a stroke or someone hit him in the head with a hammer or what. I don’t ask. It’s none of my business. But his gait is very heavy-footed, plodding. And when I see Barry struggling to walk down the sidewalk I think about how much happier Barry would be in the long run if he would just ditch the walking bit and get a motorized wheelchair In a motorized wheelchair, he’d be merrily zipping all over the place, his hair flying in the breeze.

And that’s the same thing I think when I think about Frankenstein. Because Frankenstein is crippled, whether he cares to admit it or not. Because the Americans with Disabilities Act says you’re crippled if society perceives you as crippled. And when someone walks like Frankenstein, society sure as hell perceives them as crippled. Therefore, if Frankenstein was alive today, he would be crippled, at least in the U.S.

And if Frankenstein was alive today, I picture him zipping around in a motorized wheelchair, just like I picture Barry, except Frankenstein is zipping around in motorized wheelchair naked. Because let’s face it, even though Frankenstein wasn’t born the same way the rest of us were born, he still must’ve been born naked like the rest of us. So where did that shabby suit come from? Did a tailor come in and fit him? I doubt it.

So that’s why I picture Frankenstein naked. And what sort of shlong would Frankenstein have, you say? Well, it depends on whom you ask. According to cherished stereotypes, some populations of men automatically have enormous schlongs while others automatically have tiny ones. And whereas I don’t believe enough of a consensus has been reached to establish an official stereotype of crippled men vis-à-vis our schlongs, I believe that when the average Joe or Jane secretly wonders about the genitalia of cripples, they picture us having no genitals at all. So that’s how I think most people would, by default, envision naked Frankenstein in a motorized wheelchair. But if you ask me, he has a sturdy, formidable, no-nonsense schlong, thank you very much.

I picture a pivotal moment in the life of Frankenstein where he’s forlornly plodding through the city, naked, and then he passes a store that sells motorized wheelchairs. A light bulb goes off in his head. He tries to open the door but it’s locked. It’s after business hours. So Frankenstein shatters the window with a nearby brick and enters the store. The alarm blares. Soon the front door flies open and naked Frankenstein exits the store riding a motorized wheelchair. He whoops and hollers, pops a wheelie and zips off into the sunset.

And he lives happily ever after.


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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Chopping up Cripples with a Chainsaw as a Metaphor

I don’t understand why everyone is so upset about the new horror movie where a crazed serial killer goes around randomly murdering cripples with a chainsaw and then gleefully feeding their severed body parts to packs of rabid jackals. Personally, I think the movie is a masterpiece of the horror genre

Critics are expressing outrage and protesters are picketing theaters. They howl that this movie is nothing more than a pointless display of gratuitous violence against cripples. They also worry that it will inspire copycats.

But I think they’re taking things far too literally, as critics and protesters often do. I think there’s way more too this movie than meets the eye, if you view it on the metaphorical level. That’s when it becomes truly horrifying. For example, I saw the crazed chainsaw murder as a metaphor for republicans and all the other austerity pigs. And I saw cripples as a metaphor for their easy prey. By their easy prey, I mean pretty much everybody that isn’t rich enough to own five houses. Cripples are the ultimate symbol of helplessness and vulnerability.

And when the delirious maniac chops cripples up into tiny pieces, I don’t think he’s chopping up cripples per se. The way I see it is he’s chopping up the programs that keep the vulnerable people that cripples symbolize alive, programs like Medicaid. That’s a far more diabolical way for the maniac to kill his prey than just whacking their heads off. It’s slow and painful, like torture.

And finally, I don’t take the packs of rabid jackals literally either. I see them a metaphor for those who are rich enough to own five houses or more. These jackals are constantly on the roam, searching for new profit centers on which to feast. And the homicidal maniacs sees it as his calling in life to feed these jackals. From this he derives great satisfaction. It’s like he’s making a human sacrifice to the please the Gods, so they won’t get angry and turn on him.

So when you look at the movie in that way, it’s way more scary and poignant than your basic chainsaw murdering spree flick. Like they say, truth is scarier than fiction.

But I do share the concern of the critics and protesters that this movie will inspire copycats. It terrifies me to think that watching this depraved psychopath might make some people decide to run for office.




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Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Lazy Person’s Guide for Raising Money for the Children’s Hospital



Every year I see this story on the news about this group of people who get together and raise money for the children’s hospital. And it really pisses me off.

Because what they do is they all run up the stairs to the top of the Hancock building, which is something like 95 flights. And they get people to sponsor them a dollar a flight or something and they give it all to the children's hospital.

What a bunch of elitist snobs they are! I mean, there’s a part of everybody that wants to raise money for the children’s hospital, right? It’s an easy and concrete way to feel good, to feel useful. But these people, with their stair-scaling ways, deprive cripples like me of that experience. And it’s not just cripples. What about lazy people? What about people who want to raise money for the children’s hospital without having to train for six months to be able to do it? Yeah sure, I suppose we could all just write a check to the children’s hospital or sponsor one of the stair-climbers, but it’s not the same. I’m sure it’s not nearly as satisfying as looking down on the city when you finally
make it to the top of the Hancock building and feeling like you’re atop Mt. Everest.

So the people that are hurt most by this fitness-oriented fundraiser are the children who go to the children’s hospital, because it excludes not just cripples but lazy people, which is the vast majority of humans.

That’s why I want to put together a fundraiser for the children’s hospital that doesn’t exclude anybody. It’s basically the same concept. Everybody would still go to the top of the Hancock building and get people to sponsor us to do it. Except we’d all use the elevator. There’s an observatory on top of the Hancock building where a lot of tourists go and there are elevators that take you right to it. So it works out perfect!

This would open up a teeming stream of new revenue for the children’s hospital because everybody can join in my fundraiser. Even a comatose person can ride up an elevator. There would be intensified peer pressure on everyone to get off their ass and raise money for the children’s hospital because I would make it so easy to do that anybody who didn’t take part would look and feel like a real jerk. Even a comatose person.

And we’d all get to experience that Mt. Everest feeling while exerting very little effort. Those show-offs that bound up the stairs every year will probably scorn us and say we’re cheating. But I would say to them, “Oh yeah? Tell that to those sick kids!”




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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Preparing Crippled Teens for the Future

I recently received a distinct honor. I was asked to make a presentation at Disabled Teen Mentoring Day.

DTMD is a very important annual event because it’s all about the future. Teenage criplets come from far and wide to learn from old farts like me how to make the most of opportunities and successfully plan for their futures. They hear speakers and attend workshops and do all kinds of networking.

So what would the title of my presentation be? I thought about it long and hard because I wanted to have a strong impact on these impressionable young minds. I wanted to equip them with the most essential tools they will need to navigate through America as crippled adults in the next decade.

My first idea was to do a presentation entitled, “How to Write a Winning Resume.” Because after all, the job market is tough enough when you’re not crippled. Cripples are at a competitive disadvantage so it’s extra important for their resumes to stand out from all the other applicants.

This sounded like a great idea to me so I set about putting my presentation together. I was really excited. But then I thought about all the slimy republicans that are in charge of so many things these days. Those guys really hate cripples. They won’t admit it to anyone, especially not to themselves, but they really do.

I realized that my resume writing idea was fatally flawed because it was based on the dubious premise that cripples will even be able to get jobs after these neo-dirtbags have had a few years devour up the economy even more.

So then I thought I’d serve these crippled teens better by preparing them for a life of living on Social Security in government-subsidized, low-income public housing. I thought maybe my presentation should be called, “How to Keep Your Sanity While Languishing on a 15-year Waiting List for Government-Subsidized, Low-Income Public Housing." Tip #1: Drink a lot of whiskey. Tip 2: Take up an extremely time-consuming hobby, such as building an exact replica of the Taj Mahal out of toothpicks, and before you know it 15 years will have gone by. Tip #3: Drink a lot of whiskey.

Or maybe I should share some frugal recipes for people using food stamps. Sautéed spam? Spam fricassee? Spam flambé? Blackened spam? Spam-- it's the poor man's meatloaf.

But then I thought about all the anal warts that are in charge of so many things these days. And I realized this idea was also fatally flawed because it was based on the dubious premise that there will be anything resembling Social Security, food stamps or government-subsidized, low-income public housing in the near future.

So now I’m thinking the title of my presentation will be, “Living Under a Bridge: How to Make it Accessible for You!”




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Thursday, May 18, 2017

An Inspiring Message from Smart Ass Cripple

When I was a wee criplet, I dared to dream big. I didn’t let the fact that I was crippled temper my lust for life.

When I look back on it, I can see how blissfully naïve I was. Cripples didn’t amount to much back then. I could very well have been setting myself up for devastating heartbreak with my fancy ambitions but I didn’t care! Damn the torpedoes! I was brash enough to imagine myself accomplishing extraordinary cripple feats, like going to school and maybe even graduating.

And maybe from there I would go on to enroll in a prestigious institution of high education that no cripple had ever attended before, like my local community college. And after that, who knows, I might get a job and maybe even an exotic job like working at the DMV. And if all the planets in the solar system were to somehow align themselves in precisely the right order, thus bestowing upon me and me alone all the good fortune of the universe, I might even get paid for doing that job. And maybe my paycheck would be enough for me to pay the weekly rent on a swanky furnished sleeping room with a luxurious bathroom right down the hall. And I would have plenty of leisure time, which I would spend watching wrestling and Andy Griffith. I’d be happy as a pig in shit and the envy of cripples worldwide

It was sheer folly for the cripples of my generation to envision themselves doing any of these things, except for the part about watching wrestling and Andy Griffith. But I knew I had the inner fortitude it would take to pull it off. I had the stuff of pioneers.

And so I say unto all ye cripples of today, fuck what everybody else says! Always follow your heart. Don’t be afraid strive for the routine, to thirst for the bland and to aspire to the innocuous. It’s all within your reach!




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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Living in a Post-Give-a-Shit Socety




Today we all officially live in a post-give-a-shit society. It is fashionable not to give a shit. Giving a shit is uncool. Giving a shit is soooooooooo 2016.

Not giving a shit is very liberating. When you finally make a vow to no longer give a shit, from that moment forward you are responsible for and answerable to no one but yourself.

Okay maybe I’m generalizing a little too much here. Maybe it’s unfair to make a blanket statement asserting that every human on earth doesn’t give a shit. I’ll grant you that there are still a few people who give a little bit of a shit every now and then, as long as it’s not too difficult and doesn’t require much sacrifice on their part. We call these people Democrats.

But they are a dying breed because they don’t realize that giving a shit is the enemy of progress. Giving a shit is for losers. There are countless stories of powerful men in every era of American history who only reached the heights they reached because they didn’t give a shit. Like for instance, what about Henry Ford? Do you think Henry Ford gave a shit? Who knows, but odds are he probably didn’t or it’s not likely that he would have become Henry Ford, right? Or what about Richard Nixon? Now there was a guy who didn’t give a shit.

A lot of people are still afraid to publicly admit that they don’t give a shit. They want to give the impression that they still really do give a shit. This is a whole lot easier to pull off if you’re rich. Because rich people can hire others to do all the piddly little stuff they don’t want to do. So if you’re rich, you can hire someone to give a shit for you. That’s what charities are for. You can give a bunch of money to a charity to prove that you give a shit and then you don’t have to give a shit anymore.

It’s hard not to give a shit. It takes great strength of conviction. There is so much societal pressure to give a shit. People who don’t give a shit are vilified. They’re made to look like monsters.

But I think the tide has irreversibly changed. Not giving a shit is the unstoppable wave of the future. I believe that someday we’ll all look back on the time we’re living in now as the golden age of not giving a shit.



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Friday, May 5, 2017

When the Uncrippled Majority Finally Snaps

I fear that someday the uncrippled majority will get fed up and snap. One of them will say aloud, “Fuck cripples! I’m sick of catering to them!” And millions of others will feel awash in that sense of relief that occurs when someone says something you’ve been feeling but were afraid to express. And they will take it as permission to declare themselves similarly. And that will open the floodgates for a torrent of cripple backlash.

This moment of fed-upness is likely to occur at an airport. Tensions are already high at airports. When I’m in the plane pre-boarding line, I see resentment in the eyes of many of the corralled verts (which is short for verticals, which is slang for people who can walk.) Their look says, “How come he gets to get on the plane before me? So what if he’s had it rough. I’ve had it rough, too. My father was a drunk.” So they think the announcement should be amended to say, “Ladies and gentleman, first we will pre-board passengers with special needs and those whose fathers were drunks.” But if that was allowed to happen, then the next guy will say, “Hey, what about me? I’ve had it rough, too. I was bullied in middle school.” So the announcement would be amended yet again and pretty soon we’ve defeated the purpose of pre-boarding.

A lot of verts also look like they’re seethingly jealous when an airport worker wearing a vest brings a standing cripple a wheelchair and then pushes that cripple all over the terminal. And it makes me think that maybe cripples who are out to shatter every stigma associated with using a wheelchair need to ease up a little. Because I think the main thing stopping these verts from demanding airport wheelchair rides is that they think it’s uncool to be seen sitting in a wheelchair. So maybe stigma ain’t all bad. Maybe it doesn’t always work against us.

But here’s something that would cause the uncrippled majority to snap for sure. What if there was a pre-unboarding? What if we they were expected to wait patiently while cripples get off the plane before them the same way we expect them to wait patiently while cripples get on the plane before them? “Ladies and gentlemen, please remain in your seats with your seatbelts fastened for about 20 or 30 minutes while an airport worker wearing a vest hauls the cripples off the plane first.” Sheeeeeeeeeeit! No way that’s gonna happen. As soon as that hatch door opens, verts hustle off that plane like somebody set off tear gas. That poor airport worker wearing a vest would get trampled.




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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Rough Day


The guy sitting at a table in the coffee shop looks like he had a really rough day. I can tell by the way he’s looking at me. He’s smiling at me, but he also looks like he’s about to cry. It’s a humble smile of gratitude. I’m expecting that any second now he’ll raise his paper cup and salute me with a silent toast.

I don’t know the guy. But I assume the reason he appears to feel indebted to me is because I came along at precisely the right time. Something must've happened to him today that had him wallowing in self-pity, which is a downright un-American thing to be doing. And then I rolled in and saved him. I, with my mere crippled presence, reminded him that no matter how rough his day was, he’ll never have it as rough as some people do so all in all he should thank his lucky stars.

I feel creepy when I think people are looking at me that way. But I don’t blame the guy. I do the same thing, even though I know it’s bull shit. Everybody does it. Even cripples. It’s one of the ways humans find the strength to carry on. When I have an exceptionally rough day, I remember stories I’ve heard about people who commit suicide by throwing themselves in front of oncoming commuter trains. And then I think about the people whose job it is to clean that shit up. And I say to myself, “Well damn, at least I don’t have to scrape human entrails off a railroad track on this or any other day.” And I tell myself to stop whining.

The people who have to clean up big gruesome messes like that all deserve medals as far as I’m concerned. They should have an annual awards banquet for them, like the Oscars. Red carpet. Everyone’s all glittered up. The nominees are announced, each one with a tragic and gruesome clean up tale involving a fire, an earthquake, a moose stampede. “And the winner is—.“ But really they all deserve medals, don't they? Everyone should at least receive a certificate of recognition.

I think the guy in the coffee shop is picturing an annual awards banquet for cripples like me. I bet I know what happened to him today to make his day so rough that he could only find solace in comparing his lot to mine. I bet somebody jumped in front of an oncoming commuter train and he had to clean it up.





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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Cripples with Power

What if I was a judge? Don’t panic, it’s not likely to happen any time soon. I haven’t even been to law school or anything. But then again, considering some of the idiots who become judges, you never know.

But I bitch a lot about injustice so what if I could do something about it by being a judge? I’d like to think that I would develop a reputation as a wise, fair and benevolent arbiter of justice. But if I was a judge, it’s more likely that I would be an asshole, through no fault of my own. Because places of power, like being a judge, aren’t built for cripples like me, because people don’t associate cripples like me with being in places of power. So that would put me under tremendous pressure to overcompensate to prove I belonged.

Judges in courtrooms are always on high so they can look down on the rest of us. Those are the people everybody respects the most—the ones who look down on us. But in order for me to get up to my judge’s perch in my wheelchair, someone would have to build me a crazy, winding ramp. The bailiff says “all rise” and I make my entrance up the crazy, winding ramp and I already look like a doofus. But I’d better not hear so much as a snicker out of anybody because I’m a judge, goddammit, and my courtroom is a dictatorship with me in charge! If anyone says “boo” I can slap their asses with contempt of court. And I will! Just try me!

Judges always also sit behind desks that are pointlessly enormous. I don’t know why their desks are so enormous. It’s not like they do anything with those desks except bang gavels on them. One of those folding television trays would work just fine as a desk for a judge, but a pointlessly enormous desk is much more intimidating. And those are the people everybody respects the most—the ones who intimidate us.

So if I was a judge, I’d look like a dork sitting behind that enormous desk in my wheelchair because the desk would be way too high. It would come up to about my eyes and I’d barely be able to see over the top and once again everyone would be tempted to snicker. So I’d have to have a much lower and smaller desk that wouldn’t be nearly as intimidating and people would still snicker. I couldn’t win.

The more you don’t fit in the more you overcompensate. So in order to command respect as an authority figure, I’d probably become a hard-ass judge, sentencing jaywalkers to the guillotine. That’s what happens when you give a cripple like me a little power.



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Monday, April 10, 2017

My "Special Needs" Entourage

I hate to say it, but I’m rapidly becoming one of those “special needs” people. Whenever I write or say “special needs” I always put it in quotes because, I don’t know, it just seems like the kind of thing that should always be put in quotes.

But the older I get the more crippled I get. And the more crippled I get the more “special” my “needs” become. Pretty soon I’m gonna need an entourage of specialists to follow me around and meet my “special needs.”

Here are some of the job titles:

Waker upper. These are the people who will follow me around carrying cattle prods and or Taser guns. Because now every night I have to sleep hooked up to bulky-ass breathing machine because I go through long periods where I stop breathing while I’m sleeping. I call it Old Cripple Syndrome. And when the doctor prescribed the machine for me he told me I’d better not ever sleep without it, not even for one night, or my brain might get starved for oxygen and that could cause me to have a heart attack or stroke. And he said I’d better not even doze off while riding in the car or reading or anything without being hooked up to my machine. And now I hate that doctor for being honest with me like that because now I’m paranoid about spontaneously falling asleep. It’s terrifying to think about what might happen to me if my brain was deprived of oxygen, even for a few minutes. I might turn into a republican.

So the job of my waker upper will be to remain alert and vigilant and if I ever doze off without my machine, shock me back to consciousness.

Straw caddy. Every time I drink something, I drink it through a straw. This is very frustrating because the vast majority of humans are enormously unschooled when it comes to straws and thus they assume that one straw design fits all.

But that’s bullshit. If you don’t believe me, try drinking a Martini through a McDonald’s straw. The straw will just fall out of the glass and roll off the table to the floor. Proper consumption of a Martini requires using a short, narrow bar straw. But try to drink a McDonald’s shake using one of those bar straws. You’ll suck so hard you’ll give yourself an aneurysm. Standard lightweight plastic straws fall out of glasses containing bubbly beverages like champagne because the bubbles push them out. Only heavyweight straws made of hard plastic or metal can stand their ground in a bubbly beverage. And drinking out of a tall vessel like a pint glass requires using a straw that bends.

Etc.

So my straw caddy will be the keeper of my vast array of straws for all occasions. And whenever a beverage is placed before me, she/he will withdraw precisely the right straw from the quiver.

Stunt cripple. Our infrastructure is crumbling. It seems like the terrain in the city is getting rougher by the day. When I see a curb ramp that’s as steep as a toboggan slide with a gaping pothole at the bottom, I have visions of myself being whiplashed like a ragdoll and then catapulting out of my wheelchair if I try to roll down it. I’m getting too old for shit like that so that’s when I'll call in my stunt cripple to tackle all the rugged terrain for me. Also, I feel really guilty when activist cripples invite me to protests where they march 10 miles in the cold. I feel obligated to join them but I’m getting too old for that shit too. So I'll send my stunt cripple to be my protesting proxy.


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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Blind Mummy on an Insane Cold Day




Suppose I mug you. And then suppose you give the police a description of me. And suppose you say, “He was a white guy about 60 years old with a beard and too much belly.”

And suppose that after about a week the police come back to you and say they haven’t found a suspect to arrest because there are about a million guys in the city who fit that description. And suppose the police ask you if you have any other information that might aid them in their search. And then suppose you say, “Well, there is one little detail I neglected to mention. He’s crippled and he rides around in a motorized wheelchair.”

How do you suppose the police will react? My guess is that they’ll be pretty pissed that that wheelchair stuff wasn’t the first thing you told them. And then suppose you say something to the police like, “Well, I was trying to look beyond his wheelchair. I was trying to see the person and not the wheelchair. We shouldn’t let his wheelchair define him. There’s so much more to him than that.”

That would be silly. The police might even turn around and arrest you for committing an act of criminal misplaced sensitivity in the first degree. And I wouldn’t blame them. Because the first thing everybody sees when they see me is a guy in a wheelchair. Hell, the first thing I see when I look in the mirror is a guy in a wheelchair. I may be crippled, but I ain’t fucking blind.

My crippledness is the most significant thing about me. I suppose I can understand why some people are reluctant to let others define cripples based on our crippledness. Because a lot of people define being crippled as being fucked up. But if cripples want to redefine crippledness so that they can shed the burden of going around pretending like their crippledness doesn’t impact their lives in a major way, then they have to stop going around pretending like their crippledness doesn’t impact their lives in a major way.

Like for instance, a few months back we had one of those insane cold days in Chicago where if you’re outdoors for more than a minute or two it feels like someone attacked your face with a power sander. It was the kind of day where you not only wear a ski mask but you also wrap a scarf around your nose and mouth so that only your eyes are exposed. My friend Mary Jo was walking to work, all huddled in her parka, and she noticed another bundled up guy walking by. This guy tapped a white cane. And when he got closer he looked like a blind mummy because his scarf was wrapped completely around his head. Except he wasn’t walking how mummies walk, like he’s dragging a ball and chain. This blind mummy was clipping along faster than everyone else.

Now here was a guy who decided it was too cold to give a shit what other people think. So he put his crippledness out there on full display. And anybody he passed that day got their notion of what it means to be blind shaken up a bit. They saw that being blind can give you a superior ability to endure the insane cold, as long as you don’t give a shit what other people think. I bet some of those cold people were actually envious of that blind mummy.


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Monday, March 27, 2017

Ask Smart Ass Cripple, Volume 4, Opus 32

Dear Smart Ass Cripple,
How come Siamese twins are called Siamese twins? And is it true that I can’t call them that anymore?

Yours truly,
Befuddled

Dear Befuddled,
To answer your second question first, yes, Siamese twins now insist on being referred to as conjoined twins. The same is true of Siamese cats. They now insist on being referred to as conjoined cats.

To answer your first question, the first conjoined twins to become international celebrities hailed from Siam. So they were simply named after the place they came from. It’s too bad they didn’t come from Spread Eagle, Wisconsin or Dildo, Newfoundland or Intercourse, Pennsylvania. God missed a golden comic opportunity with that one.


Dear Smart Ass Cripple,
My five-year old son recently said to me that Sesame Street will soon have an “autistic puppet.” Should I correct him? Shouldn’t he be saying “puppet with autism?” I don’t want him to offend anyone.

Sincerely,
Weary

Dear Weary,
There are many schools of thought on this issue. Some people are staunch proponents of what they call “puppet first” language. This means seeing the puppet first and the crippledness second. They feel it’s important for everyone to understand that crippled puppets are defined by much more than just their crippledness and that means putting the puppet before the crippledness.

However, there are others who believe that crippled puppets shouldn’t distance themselves from their crippledness, as if crippledness was a source of shame. Thus, they should embrace their crippledness as the feature that defines them most and put it first.

In light of all this, I would advise your five-year-old son to play it safe and avoid cripples altogether.


Dear Smart Ass Cripple,
I think Attention Deficit Disorder is a crock. When I was growing up, if a kid didn’t pay attention, we threw them in jail. And that straightened them out real quick! I think we should go back to doing that, don’t you?

With warm regards,
Fed Up

Dear Fed Up,
I don’t want to talk about ADD. Those people are really touchy. I once pissed a bunch of them off when I said, “People with ADD are the most broke ass cripples of all . They can’t even pay attention.”

It was just a joke, but boy did I get carpet bombed with hate mail. I was anxious to make amends so I remembered the time when a bunch of autistic people were pissed off at the rapper 50 Cent. Or at least I think it was 50 Cent. It might have been his half-brother, 25 Cent. Anyway, whichever rapper it was said something that pissed off autistic people. So to show remorse, he donated a bunch of money to an organization serving autistic people. So I decided to do something even more humanitarian. You know how some people start up camps to help kids overcome their problems? Like there are those camps where obese kids go to lose weight. Well I decided to start up a camp where ADD kids could learn how to concentrate better. I really meant well, but I made one little mistake. My fund fundraising appeal said, “Please help me send a kid with ADD to a concentration camp.”

That pissed off those ADD people even worse. So I don’t want to talk about them. No matter what I say, it’s never good enough.





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Monday, March 20, 2017

Dr. Jesus in Real Life

Is there a Biblical scholar out there? Because I’ve got questions.

The Bible is full of scenes where Jesus plays doctor, right? Those are the scenes where Jesus heals cripples. But are there any scenes where perfectly normal looking people beg Dr. Jesus to heal them? Surely something like that must’ve happened in real life because there always have been lots of people who don’t look crippled but are crippled nonetheless. Depressed people are a good example of that. There must’ve been plenty of depressed people walking around at the time of Jesus. Those were pretty depressing times. Human life expectancy was what, about 25 years? So at some point a perfectly normal looking guy must’ve said unto Jesus, “Please heal me, Jesus, for I am really depressed.” What did Jesus do? I don’t think he said, “You’re depressed, huh? Who isn’t? Suck it up!” A health insurance company might say something like that, but not Jesus. That’s what makes Jesus different from the health insurance companies.

So I guess if somebody claimed to be crippled, Jesus took their word for it and healed them. But if that was Jesus’ no-questions-asked policy, the hypochondriacs probably drove him nuts. I bet those people pestered the shit out of poor old Jesus. He heals their backache one day and they’re back again the next day with a brain tumor. So at some point when Jesus had enough of hypochondriacs, he put probably put his palm on their foreheads and said, “Look, I, Jesus Christ, do hereby heal thee of all ailments past, present and future, okay?”

And what about those situations where healing somebody couldn’t be fully achieved simply by Jesus zapping them with his palm? Like suppose a guy had a bad case of PTSD (or whatever they called it back then) because the Romans threw his parents to the lions. After Jesus zapped him, he’d say, “Wow! The Romans threw my parents to the lions, but I don’t care anymore. I’m hap-hap-happeeeeeeeee!” But that guy still wouldn’t be healed because Jesus just treated the symptoms and not the underlying disease. In a case like this, Jesus would have to do something more, like use his extraordinary powers of concentration to levitate up whichever Romans flung the guys parents into the lion pit and fling them into the lion pit as well. This wouldn’t completely heal the PTSD, but it would be an important step on the road to recovery.

But as far as I know, all the scenes in the Bible where Jesus plays doctor are cut and dried. The cripples all are unambiguously crippled. They’re blind or hunched or missing limbs. Jesus zaps them and they’re healed. End of scene.

But in real life, there’s no way it was that simple.






(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Purchasing Smart Ass Cripple books at lulu.com, subscribing on Amazon Kindle and filling the tip jar keeps us going. Please help if you can.)