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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