Grief. That’s an experience I don’t talk about often because I’m only supposed to show people the happier sides of who I am. God forbid that I experience any real emotion that isn’t joyous lest others around me conclude I am weak-minded. These people are not me. To the “normals”, people without Cerebral Palsy or any disability, fixated on representing said patients under the guise of proposed child-like naivety, I am still the guy who walks funny.
The “normals” do not perform mental gymnastics to say each day before rising, what I say. It’s something like: You’re not the shy, depressed, crater you were in high school. You’re not the escapist club kid… the Michael Alig wanna-be, you were in junior college.Just look in the mirror and say openly: “I’m not deformed. I will not embarrass myself on Instagram like all my followers, who market their outward extremities like pieces of Filet Mignon in a land of fried chicken and collards.
Ask them and they will say their “beach body syndrome” is the new “body positive”. Yes, I’m just following these beach brothers and sisters that pose like “each day is a beach day” because I want to feel good about my body. Could it be that I’m recovering from the shame of being sexy to the right person, and I just want to find a person that adequately shares my frustrating brilliance?
Jussie doesn’t represent me. That guy from Fox’s “Empire” isn’t exactly my kind of poster actor. The dude cannot even acknowledge my network visit. I was just trying to get him to say something like: Hello, (insert username here). I suppose this is why I freaked out hard when Reggie Watts totally invited me—-RANDOMLY—-to an IG conversation, told me he was proud that I graduated in English, and then thoughtfully went on his merry way. Talk about your down-to-earth Instagram people.
Am I the only one who notices that Instagram is the cheapest soft-core porn site ever? Just sign up and like every glistening photo of ab-worthy, chesty, geeky, big-bodied piece of flesh you can “heart” and magically, you’ll get a constant stream of it. And “it’s tasty, too…just like candy”. Lucy Ricardo would be proud. You’ll be sure to not poop out at the marijuana-like, sensory party.
I find myself tricking the algorithm often because I have to fight hard not to turn into those others, the ones who own reams and yards of model-perfect photographs to sustain their greedy followers. Yes, I am still that guy who walks funny: The guy who loves his mother enough not to fall so deep into my feelings, because I don’t want to get boo’d up with anyone who floods my pleasure center with glee.
The guy that walks funny is sort of concerned about being objectified inappropriately. I’ve noticed how I get far fewer likes when I authentic my CP to my followers. But CP shouldn’t make anyone uncomfortable. I constantly remind myself about that party guest who shows up right as I’m about to showcase just regular, normal old stuff.
Things like driving a car, making some coffee, using advanced English grammar.
I suppose that’s why I love writing. In order for the process to succeed, I have to stop being the guy who walks funny, and put on my new man. A man brave enough to see the world, this American slice of the world, as more than just a place that glorifies whiteness as the standard form of beauty, love, sexuality, and progress.
The bravery I get from writing cannot be quantified unless it’s experienced. Judging from the mounds of trashy fiction I happen across because I’m a voracious reader, it is “EASY” to write.
The easy notion blooms from the fact that easy writing is crappy writing. And crappy writing ends up in the checkout line at your neighborhood Wal-Mart or in your internet email box priced at 1.99 plus tax, complete with grammatical errors and stream-of-consciousness plot lines.
That’s not a jab at romance novels writers, it’s a metaphor that I’m using to drive the point that: There are some books that you’ll never want to read again, and often people read romances to pass time not to relearn some hidden truth about their own identity long forgotten.
And still, I’m that guy who walks funny, and believe it or not… I intimidate the “normals”.
My writer’s self is the most authentic version of me. When you’re arthritic and connected to your Kindle, smart-phone, and oratory more than the people outside your door, you cannot be the man who walks funny.
I remember when I first watched Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. There was something satiric and priceless about that “twink” calling that old queen, Ralph. He had been warned earlier in the film not to cross that line. And he did it anyway.
That’s how having Cerebral Palsy feels in the land of “normals”; one never totally escapes the image connected to that first persona: the crippled, bowlegged guy who walks funny.
Today, the present iteration of myself attacks any possibility that I am still that shame-faced knucklehead who got sham-ed, ridiculed, punched, kicked, and dehumanized because my mind was never bowlegged.
And my image continued to be. I was the “Bojack Horseman” of my story, the lonesome dove addicted to acting like my life in Cerebral Palsy was suspended in futile competition with computer scientists, nutrition aides, blues singers, correction officers, civil engineers, ornery accountants, drag queens, ghetto citizens, and fraternity miscreants, whose method of shading was always a semiotic device enveloping the hypocrisy of their own self-loathing.
I am a Creole, being Creole means that sometimes I can perform the “rite” behavior that might make me good enough to survive the competition of being more than just the guy who walks funny.
How is that for learned behavior? Maybe my walking funny, is the perfect literary image for a person as lively and deep as a gorge, whose writer’s self will never buy the idea that rooting for every person who plays and performs some ignorant trope of black identity somehow saves our group.
I have never assumed that all black people aspire to the same values. So please don’t assume that I’m rooting for everyone black just because I saw it on a meme. Sometimes the “normals” can be a bit short-sighted in their tribalism. I won’t start that rooting now; even in this ambiguous American politick.
Some black people don’t consider the questions that their respective tastes are trying to answer. Like say for example: our collective obsession with Love & Hip Hop or #HAHN.
Perhaps, this is why I’m getting more versed in satiric voices that mock the crazy parts of learned behavior.
My “social security” doesn’t come from monetary investments bequeathed by American people who hold forth my not deserving to have every right non-disabled people have.
My social security is ever evolving into the promise that when I get older, God-willing, I’ll be the guy who walks funny, who beat the odds and resisted the programming that I’d only be some ancient forgotten relic that believed in a lucid dream that made no money and locked me in a ball-bursting competition with real-life siblings that resemble my own musical adaptation of Langston Hughes’s “Not Without Laughter”.
If being made for now—-thank you, Janet—-means accepting that I’m shadow-boxing for regularity…I won’t stop being the guy who walks funny, because arthritis is more than just frozen, tepid, muscles daring to move against life’s current.
Arthritis needs movement, and movement means despising the thought that I’ll remain stationary and ever-content as the guy who walks funny. The funniest thing ever is watching how a people ever so arrogant for status and safety contend for some sexualized, scandalized, idea of power that is not healthy for the upkeep of a nation.
There’s a scripture that says knowledge will become invaluable and charity will be all there is. I hope that after you give, you’ll have something left that isn’t caught in some future with some person you never stopped competing with. I started with grief… not that’s empathy… because with empathy I can feel sorry for the motor skills that block “these perfect black people” who believe that because I’m doing my own thing, I didn’t deserve to be accepted. Tell that to next carbon-copy black or white racial image American media asks you to like. Empathy is a window to growth beyond the weeds and happily, I ain’t talking about marijuana.