The Thing About People…
I hate people in a very general sense.
Its not that I dislike a particular race or creed, or even a particular type of personality. I just generally hate people. Many people have positive aspects and, when caught alone, those positives can outweigh the festering mass of negative energy I get from exposure to society. Then I go out into the world and experience people in large groups and I mourn for society as a whole.
A few years ago, while locked in a gruesome battle with a squadron of space monkeys, I was injured. Due to this injury, I walk with an exceptionally cool looking cane. Now, being a good looking individual (I look kind of like if Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford (When he wasn’t all wrinkly, of course) had their genes mixed in a surrogate mother.), I attract a lot of attention with my awesome cane. This wouldn’t normally be an issue (I’m used to lots of totally valid attention) but the problem is that most people don’t know how to deal with a young, attractive male using a cane. It leads to many, many awkward moments that compound onto each other and continue to add more bad marks onto humanity’s report card.
A few nights ago I went to a local bar with some friends. These were work friends, the kind that you know well enough to apparently watch them get drunk but not well enough for them to drive you home. Overall it was a good evening, but I was reminded over and over that apparently no one in existence has the social capacity to see past a person’s physical disabilities.
On the one hand, we have Awkward Guy In Line dude. AGIL dude is the guy standing behind me as we shuffled toward the bouncer checking IDs who felt compelled to start a conversation with me. This is normal and perfectly acceptable social behavior.
“How’s the weather?” would have been an excellent start.
“I love your awesome tie/vest combo!” may have leaned a little towards flirting, but hey, we’ve all been a little buzzed before. I would have been accepting.
“Dude, nice cane. What’s wrong with your leg?” is not, under any circumstance, an acceptable introduction. You might as well have said, “Hi. My name is Greg. I’m a douche.” The last thing that someone using a cane wants to know is that the moment someone meets them, the first thing they notice is HOLY CRAP, IS THAT DUDE A CRIPPLE?!? Furthermore, when you ask your completely inappropriate question in that tone that suggests you love apple martinis and have had three too many tonight, don’t be surprised when I say, “I lost a fight with a cyborg.” You deserve it.
Closely related to AGIL is Someone Else’s Date man. SED is the guy who, after a few drinks, ends up next to me at the bar because his date has either 1) ended up dancing with someone else, 2) ended up leaving early because her grandmother is totally in the hospital and she’s really sorry and she’s going to make it up to you I promise, or 3) just hates you and wants you to go somewhere else. SED feels like he can relate to me because I, through some degrees of separation, know his date and that means that we are instantly the best of friends.
Now, unlike AGIL, who shoves his foot down his throat immediately upon discovering my existence, SED is subtle. He dodges around the subject, stealing glances at the cane and my leg, as if through sheer observation he can avoid the awkward conversation brewing in his mind about why I am using a cane. Failing that, he brings up several subjects that are all closely related to canes or disabilities or legs. That one time he broke his leg in high school. The family heirloom hanging in his living room that totally looks like my cane. The fact that his fa- Dude, why are you using a cane? Aren’t you like 21?
Also unlike AGIL, SED doesn’t take a hint. I can’t dismiss SED with a snide or sarcastic comment about the nature of my injury. We are best friends, remember? If I tell him a tiger mauled my leg two years ago, he’ll laugh and say, “No, really. How’d it happen?” So the two of us go back and forth like this for what seems like hours until, suddenly, like drug fueled inspiration dawning on a half-asleep rock star, he realizes the truth:
We are not best friends.
I don’t have to tell him about my injury.
My injury is, in fact, a personal matter.
He should shut up now.
Then he spews out some half-assed excuse about his herpes acting up and wanders off into the crowded bar, searching desperately for someone who is able to use both of their legs without assistance that he can talk to about sports.