Why Being Disabled is Actually Being Old

Disclaimer: For anyone who takes this blog seriously, firstly, shame on you. Secondly, I’m about to lump two completely different populations together for the purposes of making meaning out of my circumstance. It’s not meant to offend, and if you know me, you know that when I’m serious (roughly once every 3 months, just to make sure I can still do it), I’m staunchly against stereotyping and gross generalizations. This post will likely be based on my own life experience only. If it gets your panties in a knot, you can email me here, or click the corner “X” and get caught up on your Netflix.

What follows is a list of things that make physically disabled people(even if they’re young) and “old” adults (read: 70yrs+) as about as distinguishable as the start of an infinity scarf.

1. The Slow Lane:   Visit the slow lane of Anywhere Ever. Whether it be the shoulder of a busy road or the leisure lane at the local swimming pool, I guarantee you’ll find a wheelie and an old person truckin-it at their own pace. Watch carefully as the older person nods an “Aw really good to see you out,” smile at the wheelie, and the wheelie smiles back like, “Yeah, we’re slow together!”

2. Loudtalkers: The amount of loud talkers I’ve encountered in my life makes Sinefield’s The Lowtalker seem like a beautiful anomaly. Just last week someone introduced me to a curiously hot guy (you know, when someone is hot but you’re not sure why, or maybe you’re just tired), when he opened his mouth and killed all my uncertain fantasies: “HI–I’m BrIIAANN, HOoW Are YOUUUU?”  In the span of one sentence, curiously hot Brian became curiously ignorant Brian and I was left wondering if i needed a hearing-aid from the potential damage his screaming caused.

Older people experience loudtalkers too, even if they have the hearing of a bat. And no matter what age, I’m sure it never gets cute.

3. “Are you OK?” I was in the grocery store today when a woman in her 40s ran into a woman in her 70s. The younger woman looked bewildered for a second, but quickly recovered and said “Oh hi!” (I’m not sure the younger woman remember the other woman’s name)…”How are Youuu doing? Are you–are you ok?”

Maybe the older woman had battled illness recently. Perhaps she was struggling with her family. Maybe there was an awesome reason for this young lady to forget her tact and immediately ask about the older lady’s state, but i wouldn’t be surprised if absolutely nothing had warranted such a question. Asking an older person or a disabled person about being “ok” is nothing short of annoying, unless they are undeniably struggling.Questioning if a person is ok without reason suggests they look unstable–something I, as a disabled person, feel constantly without verbal cues from others. Have respect, especially if the person you’re addressing is twice your age, as I’m pretty sure in all those extra years, they’ve had to learn to ask for help at one point or another. Usually, if they’re not asking, they’re just fine.

4. Having to be ok with things that anyone else would throw three fits over: Sometimes, entry into the Golden Years can mean loss of control. In fact, eventually both getting older and/or being disabled means loss of control somehow. Maybe when you get old, the retirement home you live in will only serve bacon on Saturdays and you’ll need to wait around for someone a third your age to make sure you don’t trip walking to the toilet. As a wheelie, I anticipate getting older to be a breeze, because I’m a young person in old person’s Doc Martins already. I picture my first conversation with my contemporary retiree roommate to go something like this:

“Oh, you’re body’s moving 10x slower than your brain for no real reason?” I ask, turning my face slightly away from the ever-engaging window.

“Well yes, and it’s difficult having help for things. I don’t want to become helpless” my hypothetical roommate says.

“Pfft, you got this. Start thinking about the stuff you can do while waiting for youngsters to figure out how to help you. Sometimes I make grocery lists in my head,”

“Mmm” she states, unconvinced.

I don’t wanna brag, but dependence is kind of my gig.”

 

5 “Here you go, Dear.” If disabled people and older people combined all the dimes they should collect every time they’re called dear, disability income and retirement funds would be obsolete. And believe me, “dear” is the verbal head-pat of the English language, which is only ever appropriately used by older people (because they’ve earned it, by living while you were still a pre-sperm) , not to address  older people. 

6. Being thought of as wise. Every once in all the time, false stereotypes about one group leak onto the viewpoint of another misunderstood group. Older people are often thought of as wise, and while they might be because of their life experience, there’s an equal chance they’re set-in-their-ways and would rather finish their morning crossword then tell you about “back in their day” for the 300th time. People are people…Some are wise and some are the opposite of wise (foolish?) I don’t know though , because I’m not a wise wheelie. So stop telling me I have ‘so much insight,’ and treating me like your shrink. I can drink you under the table, and I [still] don’t know why men are assholes.

7. Mobility Issues, This red Smartie was saved for last because it’s most obvious.

And I’m sure when wheelies become old, a small part of the world implodes and a black-hole shouts, “Been there, done that”.

 

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