And so it goes into a new year, living a lie


The year 2014 was one for the record books: Turned 50, got married and helped channel my new mother-in-law into the afterlife, or the abyss, or the whatever comes next, all in the span of seven days. What a week that was, I thought not much was going to top it.

Then, I got the word that my only hope for mobility would be spare metal and plastic parts. I lived through the first, and, if I can dream, only, major surgery of my life. I’m now limping around, albeit a healthier limp, on a full, manmade hip replacement. Let’s hope this version of the Depuy implant comes without complications, recalls and lawsuits.

So, into another year I go. Decades wiser (in theory), a bit more worn out, with the X-ray to prove it, and an old married lady.

But the real reason to write is to give up the grift. I’m living a scam life and need to come clean. (Perhaps apropos my faux life, I’m typing this post fueled by a whole crab lying in my belly with ginger snaps and a California Madera at my elbow. Like me, the Madera is like a Madeira, but since I’m not in Portugal, it ain’t the real deal.)

I’m coming clean. I’m less disabled now, when I’m California state-certified disabled, then I was before.

For a couple, maybe few years, I’ve been limping and in pain. A year ago July, I fell in a hotel tub and thought as I lay on the tile floor, “I hope my death is swift, as I don’t want my coworkers to watch an ambulance pull my bruised and naked self through the lobby.” I caught my breath, grabbed the counter and limped my way to bed.

Once an X-ray proved I was fucked up worse than just being out of shape, I occasionally used a walking stick. Mostly, I just pressed on, loping from side to side pretending I was Ratso Rizzo.

Incidentally, while limping and calling myself Ratso, only one friend got the joke. Of course, I muttered it through a tubercular, husking breath, like Dustin Hoffman.

I got used to my lope and my pain.

Now, I’m walking with a cane, because the surgeon and the physical therapist say “why not?” I can park in blue spaces and as long as I want at meters.

And, it’s all a fucking scam.

I’m supposed to exercise. My hip is superior to the arthritic, worn version it replaced. Quite arguably, this manufactured hip is better than the one that I’ve been sporting since birth. Stronger and better formed.

So me and my new hip are getting more sympathy and concern than I’ve ever experienced.

Juggling a glass of wine and a walking stick at the company holiday party gave me the glow of Tiny Tim on Christmas Day. I basked in care and well wishes. The sincere statements of concern and offers of chairs and assistance and encouragement came fast and furiously.

At the restaurant that fed me crab, an observant colleague stopped the hostess who had said she would seat us on the second floor to ensure I could navigate the stairs. At our local bar and grill the servers and the bartender cleared a space at a low table adjacent to the bar so I didn’t have to hop a bar stool.

Walking stick in hand, I cry out for kindness.

(Except for at malls. Apparently shopping puts people in a mood to pull dick moves to swerve around me and check me out of the way. I wanted to punch the guy who didn’t pull his toddler away from my cane, which the tike had just tried to rip out of my hands. By way of non-apology he explained his rugrat liked to grab things.)

But I’m fine, I’m finer than I was when the medical community had yet to label me as not fine.

I’m cheerily congratulated for standing upright on a titanium stick that is doubtless stronger than my old bones. I appreciate the gestures, and parking right in front of where I need to go is fucking sweet.

As you see me walking, know that my doctor wants me to bend, stretch and exercise more. But I won’t mind if you save me a comfy seat.