I didn’t actually fall asleep during the sermon, but I can’t honestly say I listened to a word of it. What would have been great is if I could have gone home afterwards, but instead there was a fucking church picnic I had to attend. I had always managed to duck out of those when I was a kid, but now there was absolutely no way to avoid it. There was a park a few blocks down from the church and I had no choice but to follow my parents and the rest of the crowd.
Once we got to the park, my wheelchair was having a really hard fucking time in the grass. It must have been raining the night before or something, because my wheels kept spinning while I stayed in one place. After calling for my mother to help me twice, she turned off the controls and just pushed me over to one of the tables. “I’ll get you some food, honey,” she said to me. Of course, she completely forgot to turn my controls back on and I don’t have the dexterity to do it myself. Good fucking deal.
Mom came back with a hot dog and cole slaw for me. As she started cutting up the hot dog for me, I noticed there was a two year old kid sitting at the other end of the table, and his mom was cutting up his hot dog for him too. The whole thing made me feel incredibly lame. Well, at least I could feed myself.
The McFatterson family joined us at the table also, and I was a little worried the bench might collapse under their collective weight. I got stuck sitting next to the girl I knew from school, who I was calling Fattima in my head because I couldn’t remember her real name. Fattima was staring at me as I struggled to eat my hot dog using my fork splint.
“Why don’t you take a picture?” I finally said to her.
“Ryan!” Dad snapped at me.
“She’s fucking staring at me,” I mumbled.
“Ryan…” Dad growled. “Language.”
I lifted my eyes to look at my father, and boy, he looked fucking pissed. Shit. “Sorry,” I said.
“Whitney’s sorry too,” Mrs. McFatterson spoke up. I guess Fattima’s real name was Whitney. “Right, Whitney?”
Whitney just eyed me and I was beginning to wonder if she could even talk. Finally she said, “Yeah, I’m sorry.”
I was making shit progress on my hot dogs. The two year old had already finished his and I had managed to eat two chunks. The table was just a little too far away and I was having a lot of trouble. My mother offered twice to feed me, but there was no way I was letting that happen in public. It was bad enough that everyone was watching me eat with my splint. I did manage to eat some cole slaw, although a lot of it went on the napkin on my chest and a good amount on my chin, which Mom helped me wipe off.
Most of the table, including my parents, wandered off to play some lame church picnic games. I was left at the table eating my hot dog pieces. Actually, it was a relief everyone was gone so I could eat in peace. I was pretty happy about it until Whitney plopped down next to me with her third or fourth serving or whatever.
Whitney was so unbelievably fat. She looked like she was carrying triplets. Her sweater stretched over her massive stomach and breasts in a really unattractive way. She had at least four chins. I mean, I definitely had a gut now, but it was nothing like what Whitney had going on. She was disgusting.
“Why don’t you take a picture?” she said to me.
I looked at her for a second and then laughed. “Busted.”
“Fuck you, Ryan,” she said to me.
Okay, that surprised me. I thought she was probably shy or something because she was so goddamn fat, but I didn’t expect her to curse at me. What the fuck? “Fuck you,” I replied. “What’s your problem?”
“You,” she said. “You were the biggest asshole I ever met in school. You made my life a living hell.”
I did? “I don’t remember that.”
“Yeah, no shit.”
“Well, I’m sorry,” I said, although I wasn’t really sorry. I mean, when you go to school weighing five hundred pounds, what the hell do you expect?
“You so deserve what happened to you,” Whitney said, looking me up and down.
“What the fuck kind of thing is that to say?” My face was getting red now.
“It’s true,” Whitney said. “You deserve to be crippled and in a wheelchair the rest of your life. I’m glad it happened to you. And I bet a lot of other people are glad too.”
“Fuck you,” I said to Whitney. I pushed my hand into my controls to back away from the table, then I remembered that my mother hadn’t switched it back on again. Shit. I was stuck here.
“Having some trouble?” she said, looking amused. “Do you need me to call your Mommy?”
I just stared at her as she got up from the table and turned around so I could get a nice look at her fat ass. “Go fuck yourself, you fat bitch!” I yelled at her.
She didn’t even turn to acknowledge me cursing at her. And now here I was, stuck at this fucking picnic table. Everyone was involved in some bullshit game and nobody was probably going to come check on me for like another hour. This fucking sucked.
I made another attempt to spear a hot dog.
I was in a really bad mood when I got home from church. For starters, the second we got in the door, my parents went to change themselves and just left me in my uncomfortable clothing. I at least reached up to try to undo my tie, but Mom had made a really strong knot. I tried to get my thumb laced into it but it was a big struggle.
I started getting really frustrated. All I was trying to do was take off my tie and I couldn’t even do that. I couldn’t even begin to take off my shirt or pants. I felt tears rising up in my eyes as I got to thinking of all the shit I couldn’t do anymore. I mean, even if I couldn’t walk, did I have to be dependent for every little fucking thing? When I was at the park, I couldn’t even control my own goddamn wheelchair.
I was pretty hysterical by the time my parents came back into the room. Mom ran over to me, looking concerned. “Ryan, honey, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” I gulped. I wasn’t about to admit how bad I was feeling about my disability, although I’m sure they guessed that’s why I was so upset.
“Do you want to get changed?” she asked me.
I nodded and followed her to my bedroom. She transferred me into my bed to get me undressed. I felt so crippled when I was hanging in that goddamn sling. I hated it. But it was easier for her to undress me when I was in bed.
“I know it’s hard right now,” Mom said, as she unbuttoned my shirt for me. “But you’ll adjust, I promise. A year from now, this will all be routine.”
The thought of being undressed by my mother becoming routine to me was even more depressing. But what choice did I have? It was very clear that I was never going to regain enough function in my arms to be independent in any way.
I guess I had to count my blessings. If my parents hadn’t agreed to take me home, the only other option was some sort of nursing home. That would be a lot worse than living here. That was also the reason why I needed to start behaving the way my father wanted me to. I couldn’t afford to get kicked out again.
That week, we went out to dinner for the first time since I’d been home. I wasn’t too excited about it. Every time I went out in public, I got stared at. A lot. Maybe that was also something I’d get used to, but I really didn’t like it now. I hated the way people looked at me, the way they talked to me, all that shit. It’s weird because when I was younger, I just wanted attention and I didn’t care if it was negative attention, but I guess there really were some kinds of attention that I didn’t want. Like the kind you get when you’re a grown man in a power wheelchair being taken care of by your parents.
We went to this Chinese restaurant, which I remembered from when I was a kid. I think it was the only Chinese restaurant in all of Loserville, so it was sure to be pretty crowded. Mom dressed me in a “nice” shirt which basically meant that it buttoned up and made me look like a tool, and then we were off in the van.
Sean also came with us. He brought his girlfriend Terri and the three of us were loaded in the back of the van. I couldn’t stop staring at his girlfriend. She was so fucking hot, it was insane. If I could have gotten a boner, I would definitely have had one right now. I really didn’t understand how a douche like Sean ended up with a knockout girlfriend like Terri. I mean, damn.
I found myself clamming up around Terri. It was weird because honestly, hot girls never intimidated me. I never had any problem getting girls before. But now I looked at Terri and it occurred to me that realistically I was never going to be able to get a girl that looked like that. It was virtually impossible. Actually, to be honest, I was getting seriously worried that I wasn’t going be able to get a girl period, hot or not. Whenever I saw myself in the mirror, I really just couldn’t imagine a woman looking at me and thinking I was someone they’d like to have a date with. Or hook up with.
I was trying not to think about it. I tried to tell myself that eventually there would be some girl who would see past the wheelchair and my body and all that. But it wasn’t just the way I looked. I mean, I lived with my fucking parents and was depending on them for practically everything. And would be for the foreseeable future, probably the rest of my fucking life. That’s not attractive to women, I don’t think.
We got to the Chinese restaurant, and like I predicted, it was ridiculously crowded. Dad had made reservations, but of course, the table was in the back. My wheelchair was just not getting through that restaurant. At least five people had to get up and move their chairs so I could get through, and I managed to bash into a table and knock over a water glass. We weren’t even eating yet and I’d already become a huge spectacle.
It seemed like we were almost at the table when my wheelchair just stopped moving. I was trying to get past some chairs, so I guessed I was stuck on the chair to my right. However, as I moved forward, the goddamn chair wasn’t budging. So I tried to back up but I couldn’t do that either. “Fuck,” I swore.
“Ryan,” my father said in that warning voice. Shit, it was really fucking annoying to keep having to censor myself.
“I think I’m stuck,” I said. And as I said the words, I looked up and saw that the occupant of the table was none other than Whitney McFatterson. On what appeared to be a DATE. With an actual human man. I was practically gawking at them. Whitney noticed and shot me a dirty look.
“Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Harrison,” Whitney said, rising from her seat. She looked at me. “Hello, Ryan.”
“Hi, Whitney,” Mom said, smiling at her.
“This is Arthur,” Whitney said, gesturing at the guy she was with.
“Nice to meet you, Arthur,” Dad said. “I apologize, but my son appears to be having an issue with his wheelchair. Can you give us a minute?”
“Of course,” Arthur said. He looked at me and flashed me this really toothy, patronizing smile. “How are you doing, buddy? You eating out with your folks today?”
I glared at him, the words “fuck off” at the tip of my tongue. But I’d already pissed my father off once tonight. I didn’t want to prolong this any further—I just wanted him to get my chair loose and get my dinner. So instead of telling Arthur to suck my dick, I simply said, “Yes.”
“Well, good for you,” Arthur said with a wink. “And I bet at the end, you’ll get a fortune cookie!”
I could see Whitney smirking, but I kept my mouth shut for a change. I think I deserved a medal.
It turned out one of my smaller wheels got stuck on the restaurant’s chair. With some fiddling on his knees, my dad worked me loose. Just when I was celebrating finally getting away from Arthur and Whitney, my mother said to Whitney, “Won’t you join us?”
Whitney smiled. “We would love to, Mrs. Harrison.”
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
The waiter came over to push our tables together so we could all sit together. I got to sit in the middle, next to Arthur. The first thing he did was pull out the menu and open it up for me. “Here ya go, buddy,” he said to me. “Now let me read you a few things you might like.”
I wanted to punch Arthur in the face. “I can read,” I said through my teeth.
Arthur looked at me in complete shock. “Well, good for you,” he said. “But let me know if you have trouble with any words.”
I looked over at Whitney, who really seemed to be trying hard to contain her laughter. As much as I wanted to strangle Arthur, I had to admit there was also something very slightly funny about the whole thing.
It turned out that Whitney and Arthur had been dating for about a month. They had been set up on what I guessed had to have been a blind date. I was really fucking amazed he agreed to a second date with her. I mean, he wasn’t good looking at all either. He was also overweight and pretty badly balding. But still, Whitney was… I mean, she was fucking HUGE. Maybe Arthur had a fat fetish. Hey, maybe they met on a fat fetish site.
Arthur was going out of his way to be helpful. It was insane. When the food came, he actually tucked the napkin into my shirt collar while my mother put on my splint with the fork attached. Then when the food came, he cut up my chicken for me. Actually, he was pretty helpful. I wasn’t saying much through the meal, so I think he was under the complete assumption I was retarded.
“You’re doing a great job with eating, buddy,” Arthur said to me as a piece of chicken missed my lips and toppled down the front of my shirt.
I glared at him. I’d pretty much had enough. I knew I’d promised to behave but this was too fucking much. “So how did you and Whitney meet?” I asked him.
“Well, see, Ryan,” Arthur began, like he was telling a story to a small child. “When a man likes a woman, they go out on something called a ‘date’…”
“I was just wondering if you met on some kind of fat fetish website,” I said.
Everyone at the table stared at me. My mother’s jaw was hanging open and Sean was shaking his head at me. I glanced at Whitney, whose face was practically purple. My father was too shocked to even yell at me. Score.
Arthur recovered quickly. “Actually, Ryan,” he said. “It’s true that some men do prefer women who—”
“Oh, for god’s sake,” my mother finally said. “Arthur, Ryan is not mentally challenged or whatever. He knows what he’s saying and he’s just messing with you.”
Arthur blinked his eyes rapidly, looking really confused. “Oh,” he mumbled and went back to his food.
I took one more look at Whitney, thinking she’d have murder in her eyes, but actually, she was holding up her napkin to her mouth, looking like she was trying to keep from laughing. Huh.