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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