Lately, my mother was really pushing me to come with her on her errands. This was not great for me for a lot of reasons. First, it’s a pain in the neck. Usually when I’m home, I dress in a T-shirt and sweats, usually without shoes or even socks. When we went out, Mom had to get me dressed in a sweatshirt and I had to wear shoes. I know it sounds pointless for me to wear shoes considering I wasn’t going to be walking anywhere, but it felt weird to be outside with just socks on.
But I guess the bigger reason I hated going places with my mother was that when I was outside, everyone freaking stared at me. You’d think I was wheeling around in a tank engine or something. Considering I’ve always sort of liked being the center of attention, I guess it’s hypocritical to say I hated getting stared at. But it’s one thing to get stared at because you’re doing something awesome and another thing to get stared at because everyone thinks you’re a loser in a wheelchair hanging out with your mother.
But anyway, Mom persuaded me to come out with her to the grocery store, saying it would be good to get some fresh air. Actually, she didn’t so much as persuade me, as she brought it up at breakfast and Dad told me, “You better go with your mother, Ryan.” So that was that.
She loaded me in the van and chattered the whole time about how I didn’t even have to come in with her and I could just hang out outside the grocery store. Fucking awesome. Actually, I was glad about that because the last thing I wanted was to tag along with her like a little kid.
We pulled into the handicapped spot right in front of the supermarket (another perk of being a cripple). As she was lowering the ramp to let me out, I spotted some kids hanging out on their car in front of the supermarket. They were high school age and the whole thing made me feel really nostalgic. I mean, I never did anything lame in high school like hanging out in front of a fucking supermarket, but they kind of looked like kids I would have been friends with.
“Okay, Ryan, honey,” Mom said. She frowned at me in concern. “Are you sure you’re going to be okay out here by yourself?”
“Definitely,” I said.
She gave me one last worried look before going into the supermarket.
When Mom was safely out of sight, I went back to looking at those kids. There were four of them: two girls and two guys. They were dressed up in some crazy clothes and I don’t know if you’d call it emo or vampire or some shit like that. I was never really into those stupid “looks” but I did notice that the two girls were really hot, especially one of them who was blond with a lot of eye makeup. And I could see her navel piercing, which is something I’ve always found really fucking sexy.
I saw one of the guys pass the sexy blonde something little and white, which I guessed was a joint. Even after what happened last time, just the sight of that joint made me have withdrawal pains. I wondered what would happen if I went over to them and asked them for a drag. But then again, that was probably a bad idea. I had pretty much run out of chances with my father and I couldn’t risk it.
I was so busy staring at those kids that I didn’t realize that they noticed I was staring and had started staring at me. One of the guys, who had earlobe stretchers that were at least an inch in diameter, nudged the blonde and actually POINTED at me. And she laughed so that I could see the stud in her tongue.
“Look at that retarded guy in the wheelchair,” Earlobes said. “Hey, Cindy, I think he wants a drag of your joint.”
The blonde, Cindy, now dissolved into giggles.
“Duuuhhhh, Cindy, you wanna get high with me?” Earlobes went on.
I was so angry, I wanted to throw something. Actually, what I really wanted to do was to ram my chair into their car and scratch it up, but the car was already a piece of shit and my wheelchair had taken a beating already, so I felt like I couldn’t risk it. I guess the next alternative was to go over and tell them off, make sure they knew that I wasn’t a retard, which is what the old Ryan would have done. But lately, I felt like I didn’t want to confront people and get all up in their faces anymore. I didn’t want to draw more attention to myself. I just wanted to get the fuck out of here.
So I wheeled past the kids, trying my best not to look at them. I was trying so fucking hard not to look at them that I bashed into the curb. When I did that, I heard them laughing and I really tried not to lose my cool. I just backed up and went up the curb cut ramp.
I figured my best bet was to go into the supermarket. Most supermarkets have automatic sensors for their doors, but Loserville is always about 50 years behind the rest of society. There was, fortunately, a little blue handicapped button that I could press to make the doors open, but it was on my left side, which is the arm that doesn’t work at all. I had to do some maneuvering to push my right fist into the button to get the door to open. I wheeled inside the door, glad to get away from those kids.
Then I realized I was totally fucked.
There was a SECOND fucking door to get into the supermarket, and this one didn’t open automatically and there was no button to get it to open. Whoever designed this should have been shot. I was now trapped between the two doors.
I wasn’t sure what to do. I figured if I started ramming my chair into the door, someone would come help me. The whole thing was so fucking lame that I just sat there for a minute, feeling pissed off and sorry for myself. I couldn’t believe that a little glass door had formed an impenetrable boundary for me.
“Young man, do you need help?”
I turned my head and saw that an elderly woman was behind me. She was pretty ancient, yet still having an easier time getting into the supermarket than I was. “Yes,” I said.
She squeezed past me and opened the inner door for me. I wheeled past her, my cheeks on fire. “Thank you,” I said.
“Are you looking for someone?” she asked me in that sickeningly sweet patronizing voice that was how practically everyone talked to me now. “Your parents?”
I was about to answer that I was fine on my own, thank you very fucking much, but at that moment, my mother spotted me and came running over. “Ryan!” she cried. “Are you all right?”
“Oh, he got a little stuck with the door,” the old lady said. “But I helped him out.” Then she patted me on the head. That’s right, she fucking patted me on the head. I wanted to fucking kill her.
“Well, thank you very much,” Mom said. “Ryan, honey, why don’t you come with me?”
The old woman wandered off, probably feeling psyched about her good deed for the day. I got to follow my mother around the supermarket, spending half an hour deciding what kind of cereal to get, even though we all know Dad only eats bran flakes. (And actually, I’ve been eating them too, because I definitely need help in that area these days.)
I thought we had gotten everything when Mom brought me to this aisle that had all the feminine hygiene products. I was a little mortified to be seen with her buying tampons, but I was even more horrified when she picked a package of Depends off the shelf. I could only think of one reason why she’d be buying that. “What are you doing?” I said.
“Please don’t be difficult, honey,” Mom said.
“I’m not wearing those,” I said. I wanted to yell at her, but I also didn’t want to make a scene and call attention to the fact that she was buying me adult diapers.
“It will be so much easier,” Mom said. “Dad and I discussed it.”
“I don’t need them,” I said through my teeth.
“It will just be temporary,” she said. “Just until we get your bowel program under better control.”
“It’s under control.”
“Honey, you’re having an accident at least once a week.”
There was a woman with a child in her shopping card who looked up when my mother said that. I realized it was dumb to discuss it here. But I wasn’t wearing those diapers. There was no fucking way. Yeah, I’d had a few accidents. But it wasn’t that big a deal. Okay, it wasn’t great. But still, I wasn’t going to fucking wear a fucking diaper.
I could feel the cashier staring at me when she scanned the package of Depends. I hated this. But it didn’t matter if she wanted them because I wasn’t going to wear them.
My first doctor’s visit since being discharged from the hospital was kind of a big event. I was seeing a specialist on patients with spinal cord injury and my mother had tons of questions to ask him, apparently. I had one big question to ask.
I actually loved the waiting room for the doctor because it was the first time where I felt right at home in my wheelchair. Everyone there was in a chair. In fact, I wasn’t even the most disabled person in the room. There was a guy there who had a sip and puff wheelchair and a tube coming out of his neck with a vent. Of course, I recognized all his equipment immediately, because in my early days, I looked just like that. I was glad I didn’t look like that anymore, because damn did he look like a freak.
The nurse let me and Mom into the examining room to wait for the doctor. She gave the nurse my list of meds and was basically filling out all the forms for me. I could write with a splint, but it’s a pretty slow process and my handwriting sucked. So it made sense for Mom to do all the paperwork. But I hated feeling like a child who needed everything done for me.
The doctor was an old guy whose name was Dr. Martin. You know how sometimes you meet someone and pretty much instantly don’t like them? Well, that’s what it was for me and Dr. Martin. I really didn’t like him. I didn’t like that he was so tall, I didn’t like that he barely looked at me and just talked to my mom, and I didn’t like that the first words out of his mouth were, “So how’s he doing?”
“He’s fine,” I spoke up.
Mom shot me a pained look. “Ryan,” she sighed. “Doctor, he’s doing fine in general. I just have some questions.”
“Go ahead,” Dr. Martin said.
“Well, he’s got some redness around his suprapubic catheter,” Mom said.
“Let’s have a look,” Dr. Martin said.
They undid the belt around my waist, lowered my pants, and Dr. Martin felt around my catheter site. I guess it’s called a stoma or something. It was a little red, I guess, but my mother was making too much of a big deal out of it. Anyway, Dr. Martin gave her some cream to put on it.
“How’s his bowel program going?” Dr. Martin asked, still not looking at me.
“Still having some accidents,” Mom said.
“Are you using diapers?” the doctor asked.
“They’re not diapers,” I snapped. “They’re protective undergarments.”
So yeah, I’ve been wearing the Depends. I tried to fight it, but Dad said that unless I was going to be the one cleaning up my messes, which obviously I couldn’t, that I had to wear them. So I basically didn’t have a choice. It really wasn’t so bad though. I mean, it’s not like anyone knows I’m wearing them. But I really don’t like it when people call them diapers, because they’re not. Diapers are what babies wear. These were protective undergarments, and that’s what Mom and Dad had promised to call them.
Mom kept saying this was just a temporary thing, but I just got this feeling that I was going to be wearing them for a very long time to come. Which, like I said, wasn’t that big a deal. Except when some douche doctor called them diapers.
“Right,” Dr. Martin mumbled, sounding pretty uninterested. He then got into this long discussion with my mother about my crap, and I just sort of zoned out at that point. Nobody really seemed that interested in what I had to say anyway.
“Okay,” Dr. Martin said after he was done talking about every aspect of my body with my mother. “Any other questions?”
Now was my chance. I took a deep breath. “I was just wondering something. Um, is there a medication I can take to have sex?”
Mom started coughing violently. Dr. Martin was just staring at me. “Do you… have a partner?” he asked.
“Of course not!” Mom said.
I was angry at the way she answered that question, so I said, “Not right now, but maybe in the future.”
Dr. Martin looked at my mother, “Does he get erections?”
“No,” she said.
“But I used to get them in the hospital sometimes,” I said.
“Well, obviously, you probably wouldn’t be able to have sex without help from medications,” Dr. Martin said. “Why don’t you come back to me if you have a partner?”
IF I had a partner? I looked at my mother, who seemed completely satisfied with that response. But I wasn’t. “So will I be able to have sex?” I asked.
“It might be possible,” Dr. Martin said and shrugged.
I really didn’t like that answer. I wanted him to tell me that I’d definitely be able to do it with medication or whatever. Even if I couldn’t feel it, the thought of never being able to have sex again really upset me.
But I was even more upset when I was lying in bed that night and I overheard my mother telling my father about my doctor’s visit, and relaying that part of the conversation. “Ryan asked him about sex,” Mom said.
“Why am I not surprised?” Dad said. “And who exactly does he think he’s going to have sex with?”
Mom said something to that which I didn’t catch.
“I guess he’s still adjusting to who is now,” Dad said.
That comment really struck me. What the hell did that mean? Did they mean that I didn’t get that I was this freak in a wheelchair who was never going to have sex again? I mean, yeah, there weren’t going to be women banging down the doors. But I was only 24. How could my sex life be completely over?
Maybe it was because the conversation in the doctor’s office or maybe it was because my mother was bored, but a few days later, she decided that I was going to go to a singles mixer. At the church. Fucking shoot me now.
Mom told me about it over dinner. It was just me, her, and Dad since Sean was out more and more with his girlfriend Terri. After struggling a bit the first few days, I had become really proficient at eating with my fork splint, although obviously not as fast as I was before. And my mother had to cut the food up for me because I only had one arm to work with. Still, I could feed myself. I was beginning to feel more like a normal person again.
“The mixer is for ages 22 to 30,” Mom said. “I think it will be perfect.”
Dad was nodding too. Obviously, they had discussed it beforehand.
“I don’t know,” I said. It was one thing to ask a few hypothetical questions to my doctor. It was pretty different to put myself out there.
“Alan is going,” Mom told me.
“Really?” Alan and I weren’t exactly BFFs or anything, but I’d gotten to like him a lot better lately. There weren’t a lot of young disabled people in Loserville, so Alan and I had kind of a bond. And he was way more experienced at being a crip, so I figured I could learn things from him.
So anyway, that’s how I ended up getting dressed up on Friday night for a church singles mixer. Yes, the coolest of the cool. I knew it was going to be really fucking lame, but I actually found myself getting kind of excited about it. Maybe there was a chance I’d meet someone there. Yeah, it would be a girl from church. But it would still be awesome.
Mom was psyched to have a chance to dress me in some of the nicer clothes she bought for me. It seemed like she had bought a never ending supply of polo shirts. I really fucking hate polo shirts. I hate them because they’re fucking lame and make me look like a tool, but also I really just don’t like wearing short sleeves anymore. I have zero working muscles in my hands and forearms, so let’s just say short sleeve shirts are not flattering. When I wheeled over to the full length mirror and looked at my body, with my gut bulging out and my skinny ass arms and my crippled legs, I felt way less excited about going out and socializing. But oh well.
When I got to the mixer, it looked every bit as lame as I thought it was going to be. First of all, and I’m not saying this to be mean or anything, but the girls were really fucking nasty. Nobody in the room was more than a 3. I’m not saying this is a reflection on Christian girls, because I have met (and fucked) some amazing looking Catholic schoolgirls. I ran into a bunch of them on a trip they were taking to the city for school, and I fucked one of them in the bathroom of the Natural History Museum, which marks the only time I’ve been in that museum since age ten. But anyway, I’m guessing the kind of girls who would go to a lameass mixer like this were not exactly high quality.
The guys were equally lame. I felt like I fit right in with my navy blue polo shirt. But I guess the truth was that most of these guys were actually more desirable than me, thanks to the whole wheelchair bit. Plus I was the only guy here who was with my mom, something I wanted to remedy ASAP. It actually seemed like I might have a chance of meeting someone here and I didn’t want to ruin my chances.
“Mom,” I whispered to her. “I’m okay. You can go now.”
She looked at me in surprise. “But what if you need something?”
“I won’t need anything,” I said.
“What if you want some punch?”
I really didn’t want any punch. And even if I did, I felt unattractive enough without having a cup of punch in my wheelchair cup holder with a long straw sticking out of it. “I’m okay. Really.”
“What if you need to leave? What if…”
Mom looked really worried and for a minute, I felt all the same worries. What if something went wrong with my wheelchair? What if I spilled something on myself? What if my leg bag needed to be changed? What if I shit my pants (or diaper, as it were)? The thought of any of these things happening was disturbing enough to me that even though I was sick at the thought of hitting on girls in front of my mom, I just couldn’t ask her to leave.
“I think I’ll stay,” she said.
“Okay,” I said.
Mom went and got herself a drink and I sat there, scoping out the room. It was hard to do it inconspicuously because half the fucking people in the room were staring at me. A lot of them looked vaguely familiar too, like people I knew from back in high school. If they were people I had once known, I was definitely never friends with any of these losers.
I saw two girls in the corner and started working up my nerve to approach them. I picked them out because they were honestly the ugliest girls in the room. A year ago, I never would have given them a second look, but now I found myself getting really nervous and intimidated at the thought of approaching them. I finally took a deep breath and wheeled across the room to where they were standing.
They saw me coming and I could tell from their expressions that they weren’t thrilled. I tried to get the image of myself in the mirror before I left the house out of my head. Okay, my body sucked. But from the neck up, I still looked good. I had a good looking face and my hair was short enough that even my mother couldn’t fuck it up.
I stopped my chair in front of them. “Hi,” I said.
“Hi,” one of the girls said. The other rude bitch didn’t even say anything to me. Like, what did she think? That I wasn’t a person with feelings just because I was in a fucking wheelchair?
“I’m Ryan,” I said.
“Hi, Ryan,” the girl said. “My name is Jill. It’s nice to meet you.”
And then I heard it. That fucking patronizing tone in her voice, talking to me like I was some kind of child or something. I wanted to say something really witty so she’d recognize that I wasn’t retarded, but I felt my brain clam up. The thing is, what kind of brilliant thing could I have said anyway? I’m not brilliant. I’m not smart. I’m actually kind of dumb. It just never seemed to matter that much until now.
I sat there in awkward silence with the two ugly girls until finally I backed up my chair, putting them out of their misery.
One piece of good news: Alan had arrived. When I saw him in the corner of the room with his dad, I wanted to hug him. I sped over there as fast as my chair could go, which is actually pretty fucking fast. “Alan,” I said, grinning. “You’re here.”
Alan snorted with laughter. “I’ve never seen you so happy to see me.”
“This party sucks, man,” I said. I lowered my voice so that his father wouldn’t hear. “Have you ever, like, met someone during one of these things?”
Alan shook his head. “No, but I’ve made friends.”
I groaned. I knew it was going to be really hard to meet women now, but it was beginning to feel like it was damn near impossible. And the more impossible it seemed, the more I wanted it. All around the world, there were millions of unattractive people in relationships. It was so easy for them.
“You look pensive.”
I craned my neck around and my eyes lit up when I saw Whitney standing behind me. I turned my chair so that I could face her. “What are you doing here?” I asked, trying not to let on how excited I was to see her.
“Same thing you’re doing here, I’m guessing.”
Whitney was wearing a red dress that stretched over her boobs in a really sexy way. Have I mentioned that I love big boobs? “You look great,” I said.
“Thank you,” she said. I was glad she didn’t say something like “so do you” because it would have definitely been a lie. I mean, I knew how I looked strapped into my wheelchair. “So what, is this the church party of the century?”
“I think the cops are going to come in any minute to shut it down.”
“Well, you know,” Whitney said, “that the party don’t start ‘till I walk in.” With those words, she did a little sexy twirl.
I laughed. I couldn’t help it, Whitney was really funny. And hot. I mean, objectively hot. Yeah, she was a big girl, but she was a fucking sexy big girl. And I couldn’t help but wonder in the back of my mind if I had any shot in hell with this girl.
To be continued....