Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hooray for the disabled!

Oh, that's not how it goes? It's not really a celebration? Whatever, I'm partying anyway.

Today is International Day of Disabled Persons, and I'm guessing it's intended more as an opportunity to recognize important issues affecting people with disabilities than it is a chance to shout "Let's hear it for people with one leg! They only have to buy one shoe! Lucky!"

Because being handicapped is no joke.

But it sure can be funny.

For example: Have you ever seen those glass hands that are meant to go next to the kitchen sink so you can put any rings you might be wearing onto its fingers while you're washing dishes? Doesn't matter; you can imagine. A few years ago my aunt, who was born without a right hand, got one of those ring keepers for Christmas. As soon as she opened it and realized it was a righty and also hollow, she slipped it onto her arm and said "Oh, thanks Mom!" I haven't laughed that hard since.

My mother, on the other hand (ba-dum, ching!), has all her extremities but suffers from arthritis. She gets to park up front, which is merely helpful most of the time, but freakin' rocks when we go with her to a sporting event. Not only do we get to park right next to the stadium, but they don't even charge for it! It seems they're confusing disability with poverty, though. Their loss, because my mom's a librarian, and librarians are rolling in it.

Being handicapped can be awesome. Oh sure, there's all the pain and inconvenience, but I bet the parking privileges make up for that and then some. And you can't tell me you don't occasionally see someone in one of those motorized wheel chairs (the Hoveround! the Rascal!)and feel a little jealous, watching them zipping effortlessly around the grocery store, running down fat kids and simply banging through any shopping carts with the audacity to get in their way. That is freedom, and apparently it actually is free if you can get Medicare to pay for it.

Of course, it's not all fun and games accompanied by a lovely electronic beeping every time you go backwards. They sure make it sound great (and the one-shoe people- so lucky!), but I bet there's a darker side to being disabled. Take my aunt: She has never driven a stick shift and never will. It's automatic transmission or nothing for Lefty. Unless she moves to England. (We don't actually call her Lefty, but that would be funny if we did.)

But forget missing or mangled limbs: Some people don't have the ability to speak. Can you imagine all those times you see a girl with a lower-back tattoo and not being able to mutter to the person next to you, "Girl with a lower-back tattoo?! She sure is making her own way in the world." It would drive me nuts. I suppose there's sign language, but does sign language have a mechanism to convey heavy sarcasm?

Speaking of nuts, there are mental disabilities, too. I really can't say much about them because I've always wondered if I have one. Isn't it the nature of some mental disabilities that you don't know you have them? Kind of like stupid people don't know they're stupid. I think I'm pretty sane, but maybe I'm just delusional. Probably.

But nobody's offered me a parking sticker yet, so I must hide it well.


Courtney said...

I hadn't heard that story about your aunt and the hand, but it made me laugh out loud.

Also, whenever we go somewhere with your parents and there's a crowded parking lot, I'm secretly glad (just for one second!) that she's handicapped. But I'd never say that out loud, of course.

surviving myself said...

Bravo man - one of my favorite posts you've written. Funny as hell.

Rachel said...

This is brilliant. Whenever I see a Hoveround commercial with the old ladies at the Grand Canyon, I secretly wish I'll be able to get one of them when I'm old. Of course, since Karma's a bitch, I'll probably be involved in some sort of horrible farming accident and lose both my legs, and that'll teach me to covet an electric scooter.

Anonymous said...

where can you just buy one shoe? there has been times where i only needed one shoe.


The Dutchess of Kickball said...

Ya know what would be cool? If the one shoe guy who needs the right finds a guy who only needs the left, and they can literally get their shoes half price! That would be freaking awesome.

Allie said...

There's a lady in our neighborhood who is the proud owner of two of those little carts. When her granddaughter visits, they race them down the sidewalk together. It pretty much rocks.

I spent 9 months on crutches once for a knee injury. That very much didn't rock.

Noelle said...

Let me tell you from experience, they don't just hand out those parking tags, and it actually takes a lot of walking (on crutches) to get one, and by the time it finally arrives in your mailbox, you've needed it for two bloody months.

Also, my one-legged swim team partner / physical therapist told me a story about a man missing his right leg who met a man missing his left. They always shopped for shoes together, and developed a lifelong friendship. Eventually, their children married each other. Aw.

Arjewtino said...

From my mind to your blog...all great points.

I once got told by a deaf girl in sign language she wanted to fuck me.

Or that it was nice to meet me, I'm not sure. Those two sentences look very similar.

Jacob said...

Great post, but I'm a little worried that you're still posting daily three days past November. I'm concerned you'll end up like me and put up a post every day for more than a year.

And poor one-legged people still have to pay for both shoes. There is, however, a website where they can trade the unneeded shoes with people missing the other foot. Pretty cool, huh?

Stefanie said...

I always feel evil when I circle around parking lots, eyeing all the empty handicapped spots and muttering, "Those handicapped people get all the best spots." I'm glad to hear I'm not alone in finding amusement in the not-supposed-to-be-amusing.

Also, Noelle, is that story for real? That's a Lifetime television movie waiting to happen.

The Modern Gal said...

Can you imagine all those times you see a girl with a lower-back tattoo and not being able to mutter to the person next to you, "Girl with a lower-back tattoo?! She sure is making her own way in the world."

That made my day. Thank you.

Julie said...

Yes. Deaf people using ASL and those who sign to them are always incredibly expressive. Using someone's facial expression to interpret their signs makes it much easier to understand what they are saying. It's the same way you interpret sarcasm in the tone of voice.