Let me make this clearer than a window cleaned by the Windex crows: I adore jokes about my illness. Any witty comment about my disability wins friendship points. You’ll be my new favorite.
I already wrote about funny things church people have said to me (You’ll Chuckle at These Things Some Christians Have Told Me About My Illness). Everyday pedestrians have some funny things to say as well. Here are seven experiences that were more humorous than watching a wet cat run on ice. Enjoy.
1. Seizure in Spanish Class, Ay Caramba
I fell out of my chair and hit the ground like a summa wrestler wearing kevlar. Seizure time. I was in Spanish class during a particularly frustrating lecture on grammar points. I ended class with a bang.
My teacher was so shaken by the experience that he made the next test a take-home exam. So everyone could “recover” from the experience. Truth is, he was the most traumatized. As was the British paramedic who I mistook for an Australian. The nerve of some Americans.
Unfortunately, I had the seizure in the same building the student health center is in. The head nurse specializes in neurology. She made me go downstairs and detained me for an hour with examinations. It’s like being in prison except you don’t have a uniform and people prod you like you’re an alien project.
2. E.R. Cancer Confusion
There are people who just assume I have cancer. It’s the short hair. The last time I sauntered into an ER and checked in at the front desk, the nurse leaned over the counter intently…
“Are you coming over from the cancer center?” she whispered kindly and intently.
“No. No mam. But if I said yes, would you get me out of here faster?”
3. Mistaken for a Noodle-Armed Athlete
I often use a cane and a wheelchair (see Going to College in A Wheelchair: My First Month). When I’m using my cane, everyone thinks it’s because I hurt my knee. I used to be an athletic, so it kind of makes sense. But not.
“Bruh, what did you do? Did you have ACL surgery?”
“No, but you need brain surgery.”
I kindly inform them I have Lyme. Usually, such a reveal of serious illness brings stares of intrigued petrification. Like a doe in headlights. Or a baby’s face after a grownup says the “boo” after peak-a.
Awkward for them. Useful for me. I’ve become that much more interesting. Or frightening. Either one.
4. I’m Not a Terrorist, Masks Just Make Me Sexy
I wear a surgeon’s mask when it’s flu season. I get lots of stares (see When Everyone Stares: How I Deal With the Attention of Disability…). Especially when I’m wearing a mask in the airport. Terrorist. TERRORIST. Or maybe they stare because I’m sexy. Nothing says hawt like a black surgical mask.
5. Crazy College Professors
When I returned to school in a wheelchair after taking a semester and a half off due to illness, people acted strangely. Classmates, who knew me before my illness, tiptoed around me as if I was a pop quiz.
Sitting in the front of the class is the only option when in a wheelchair. Thus, I did. I soon discovered it wasn’t only my classmates who were treating me differently.
One of my professors was passing out an assignment during the second week of class:
“This is due on Thursday,” she said strictly. “Except for you, Brooklyn, we all know you’re doing the best you can.”
Ah, tolerance. Equality. This leftist professor’s pledge to political correctness was a pledge to biased behavior. Not the other way around. Hypocrisy at it’s finest. I wondered why she thought I was dumber with the addition of a chair. I thought it was a fluke, but the rest of the semester, she wouldn’t let up…
I often had to take medication during class. I was usually super sneaky about it, but because I was in the front row.
“Oh my gosh! Are you okay? Do you need to lay down? You don’t have to stay here. You can go. Are you in pain? What are you taking?”
This was in front of the whole class, mind you.
“Yes, I’m fine. Please continue.”
“Are you sure? You can go lay down.”
“I’m sure, thanks.”
This happened again. And again. And again. If I even looked a bit tired or made a face other than a completely engaging smile, she would stop the whole lecture to “compassionately” proclaim, “ARE YOU OKAY?”
I’m okay. You’re not. This whole situation is highly illegal.
6. The “Crawl-Overs”
In our modern and “progressive” society, people jump out of the way of wheelchairs. Desperately, as if slow movement would label them “intolerant.” Wheelchairs part crowds like Moses parted the Red Sea.
There are some individuals, however, who like to integrate their rock-climbing skills during their encounters with cripples.
As my mother, sister, and I were exiting a Tinsel Town bathroom, a lady opened the door and stood in front of us. She then proceeded to climb over maneuvering by the three of us as if she was a sneaky spy avoiding laser sensors. This is not an uncommon occurrence. Entitled rock climbers love the challenge of climbing wheelchair users.
7. Stinky Stalls
Handicap stalls are the Corvettes of the open road. The penthouses of apartments. The watermelons of fruit. We all enjoy the extra airy space a handicap stall provides. Soak it in, I don’t care. However, if you’re just using it to take a giant crap, I loathe you.
If other stalls in the bathroom are open, and if you’re not making a costume change, use the smaller stalls. I don’t mind if you daddle in the big stall when I have time to waste, but when I’m in a rush, you suck. Having ten minutes between classes and waiting on you to stop pooing in the stall is obnoxious. Don’t be obnoxious.
Most of the women exiting the stalls and seeing me are embarrassed, apologizing profusely. Spare yourself the humiliation. Poop in the small stalls.
I hope you enjoyed these snippets of my life as much as I did. If you didn’t, file a complaint in the comments below.