The other night I was out at the bar, having a few beers and watching the hockey game. Every so often, I like to just get out, by myself, clear my head with booze and escape into some sporting event that I most likely have placed a small wager on. I enjoy my alone time surrounded by people. I don’t really want to be bothered but, sometimes, I get the feeling that people want me to be bothered. They see a guy sitting in the corner, in a wheelchair, by himself. How lonely I must look to them. I say this because many people feel it necessary to come over and make small talk with me. I think it makes them feel good to strike up a conversation with the guy in the wheelchair. The problem with that is… the guy in the wheelchair just wants to be left alone. He’s not friendless. He doesn’t live in dark, secluded cabin. He’s not suicidal. He just wants to watch the hockey game in peace. Yes, I know it makes them feel good to put a little time in with the disabled but, why do I have to feel bad, so they can feel good? They skip over the lonesome drunk at the end of the bar. They pass by the old man eating by himself. They ignore the girl dancing by herself. But me, I got a target on my back. I’ve concluded it’s because I’m in a wheelchair. I guess if my banter is boring they feel they can easily walk away without fear of me following them.
They seem to always want to talk about the one thing I don’t want to talk about, which is the disability. Yes, I’m aware of it. I see the tire marks in my kitchen every day. And, like clockwork, the war stories spew out of how their best friend or a close family member is disabled or how they once spent some terrible months, days or hours in a wheelchair. The stories range from a fall off the roof to a knee operation to an infected toenail. I assume it’s for relating to my situation. I’ve learned over the years the best way to do this is by buying me a few rounds. But, I’ve noticed they never seem to go up to the intoxicated fellow at the end of the bar and say, “You know, I used to be a drunken bum like you.
Of course, I don’t feel this way about everyone who comes over to chat with me. I’m not recluse. I’m willing to be open to certain people. I have a lot of leniency towards the pretty girls or wish to strike up a conversation, and, even more leniency towards the drunk pretty girls. I know it seems narrow-minded but if I’m going to pretend to be interested in your disability tales there better be something in it for me.
It’s not uncommon for me when I’m sitting alone in the bar to get a smile from a woman as she passes by. It’s also not uncommon for me to have a woman pass by and not even acknowledge me. That is more common. I’ve often wondered how the opposite sex views me. Do they feel sympathy? Pity? Maybe I’m their ideal man for the mere fact I can’t run away. I can usually tell if someone is attracted to me or not. There have been times when I see a totally gorgeous girl that I’m head-over-wheels for only to find she’s not interested in me. Of course, you always wonder if it’s you she’s just not attracted to or if it’s the disability that turned her off. It’s not like she’s going to tell you. “Oh dear, it’s not your disability. It’s not. You’re just ugly.” Well thank God for that. I thought you were shallow. My ego is certainly strong enough to be shot down for ugliness.
For the most part, I’ve been lucky over the years with the whole dating thing. Many times, I’ve also been out with my buddies and have been fortunate enough to be the one who gets the girl. Yes, miracles do happen. I tell my friends it’s my charming personality. They claim they need to get a wheelchair. Yeah, I hate to say it but, the disability has also helped land me a chick or two. Not the same night, though. Maybe they think a disabled person can be trusted. Fools, I say, but I’ll take it. I need to be resourceful and use whatever I have, right? I don’t want to be the lonely guy sitting in a bar all by himself watching the hockey game hoping someone will come over to and talk to me. Actually, I do. Well, I guess it just depends who you are.