Friday, February 2, 2018

Opening Eyes-A Cosmopolitan Essay Contest

So, this summer I threw caution to the wind to enter a contest from a writing gig for Cosmopolitan.  Wait, what, J, Cosmo’s a chick mag.  Yeah, all the more reason to enter…guys’ egos aren’t gonna allow them to do the “unmanly.”  Anyhoo, the contest was to write about college life, anything about it.  I immediately thought of a time that stands out as a defining moment.

Be good to each other.


Without further ado, here’s Opening Eyes:

I’ve been disabled all my life living in an able-bodied world.  The rest of the family’s able-bodied except for my brother, who had Spina Bifida, like I do.  Most of my friends throughout my life have been or are able-bodied with a few exceptions.  My first wife was able-bodied, but she couldn’t hack life with a disabled guy, so she cut and ran off with another guy.  I’m now married to another disabled woman, a surprise to both of us, for the last 14 years, together 17, thank you, thank you.

Together, we get asked all sorts of questions, and being one of those that don’t mind answering questions, we answer all with no hiccups or strange looks…at least not from us anyway.  We’ve been asked everything from the normal ‘what do we have’ to about our tattoos to “how do we ‘do it’.”  Nothing’s off limits.  Most people compliment us saying how they don’t think they’d make it…especially when they really get to know us and come to our house, which we own with our two dogs, Hollywood and Chewy.

Given that, when I was in college (Midland College) for a degree in English with a double minor in Psych and Computers, I was in a group made by myself and a couple of friends inviting able-bodied and disabled alike.  We were a small group with big ideas.  One of our ideas that came to fruition was getting a few manual wheelchairs and inviting professors to do their day totally from a chair.  We had a few takers, and I had a few chairs to loan out.  The thing was, once the students learned about our experiment, they got in on it, and would report to us who did what…and if they cheated.  We even heard of students going to the restroom to make sure the prof even used the restroom without standing to go in the urinal or transferred in the stall.  Most tapped out.  We heard the vice president of instruction, Stan Jacobs, was the only prof to fulfill the day…even handing out papers in class and teaching from his chair.  We caught up to him later, and he admitted to being sore from pushing himself around campus along with everything else he encountered during his day being disabled.

Although it was a humorous experience, for me, I think the experience helped both of us, our group and Dr. Jacobs, and the students that witnessed Dr. Jacob’s willingness to step outside his safe box to experience the tribulations…and the triumphs of our world.

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