Ervin: The Not-So Good Old Days

By |2017-01-13T20:41:11+00:00January 1st, 2017|
Contact The Editor

Mike ErvinI’ll tell you another good thing about being a lifelong cripple. I don’t waste time longing for a return to the good old days.

If I became crippled later in life, maybe it would be a different story. Maybe I would yearn to go back to that wonderful, carefree time when I could run like the wind, feel the cool green grass under my bare feet, not have to worry about my leg bag springing a leak in the middle of a hot date, etc.

But for lifelong cripples like me, there are no good old days. Looking backward for hope and strength just makes me break out in hives, both physically and psychologically. Forget about going back to any point in time before around 1965. Maybe life began 200,000 years ago for the rest of Homo sapiens. But for Homo sapiens crippleus, life began around 1965, at least in the U.S. I mean, cripples like me didn’t even have motorized wheelchairs before then, except for those inventive cripples who fashioned makeshift motorized wheelchairs out of two lawnmowers and an ironing board or something like that. How the hell did anybody who was crippled like me survive before there were motorized wheelchairs?

How about 1970 or so? No thanks. Any public school from kindergarten to college could turn any crippled kid away back then, no questions asked. And they did, too.

1980? Yeah right. Have fun finding a public transit bus or train that was wheelchair accessible back then. And have fun finding any newly constructed housing that was even remotely accessible, because there was no Fair Housing Amendments Act requiring basic access. Oh, and if you needed somebody to wipe your butt every day without going broke paying someone to do that for you, have fun finding that, too. Most programs like the one I use where the state pays the wages of the people I hire to assist me in the home and community didn’t exist back then. I guess back then cripples like me also had to come up with makeshift butt wiping solutions, like calling the fire department.

How about 1990? You mean before the ADA?

And let’s not forget about Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid. Who wants to go back to before those programs were around? Don’t raise your hands all at once now.

I don’t even want to go back to six months ago. It was about six months ago that CVS drugstores announced that some of the clinics in their stores will have scales that are wheelchair accessible. So now cripples like me can do yet another thing that uncrippled people routinely do every day.

So yeah, I’ve never had any nostalgia for the good old days, even though that was back in that glorious era that will soon be known as BT: Before Trump. Now, if he and his fascist buddies get their way, look out, cripples!

Now it’s true that Trump didn’t specifically scorn cripples in the same way he did just about everybody else. He didn’t say cripples are rapists and murderers or that we’re ugly and eat like pigs or we all ought to be herded up and sent back to wherever we came from. All he did was give us his generic spazzed-out-cripple impression, which was so lame that even Jerry Lewis could do better.

But we are on Trump’s hit list. Have no doubt about that. Here’s how you know if you are among those populations Trump would like to see bound and gagged and thrown into a bottomless well. Ask yourself this simple question: “Is there anybody like me on Leave it to Beaver?” There are no gay people in Beaverville. No trans people for sure. No black or Latino people or anybody not white, except maybe in cameo roles as servants or shoeshine boys or proprietors of the Chinese laundry.  And there are absolutely no cripples like me in Beaverville, not even in a cameo role as a lowly street beggar.

And Trump is determined to restore the blissful purity of Beaverville, even if he has to send in armed troops to make sure everybody keeps smiling.

There’s no place for cripples like me in that world. So I imagine pretty soon I’ll find myself pining for the BT good old days. And it’ll probably be while I’m calling the fire department.