If you have wheels for your mode of transportation, instead of legs, you become accustomed to people staring. You get used to being about the level of the average person’s butt. You get used to being asked, “Why?” You get accustomed to half the population thinking you are a nuisance and the other half being overly solicitous. I’ve adjusted to all of that. I’ve even adjusted to asking a stranger to help me once in a while.
What I have yet to adjust to is the uniqueness of the occasional stranger that will grab the handles on the back of the wheelchair and push me out of their way, the man that used his grocery cart to hit and move my wheelchair because he wanted to walk down an aisle that I had stopped in, the mother that yells at a child when they ask me why I have to sit all the time, and ‘SHOPPING WITH JOHN‘.
The first month he was here he was the model of constraint and concern. When we went shopping he would push the wheelchair while I pushed the shopping cart. We got the shopping done swiftly and efficiently. Then as he became more at ease and adjusted to the way of life on the 'opposite coast' his real nature started showing.
It started benignly enough. As we were headed for a specific area of the store he suddenly stopped pushing the wheelchair. When I turned around to see what had caused him to pause I saw him watching two elderly ladies that were approaching. I saw the impish indecision on his face, and I watched as the indecision turned into mischievous determination. But what he didn’t take into consideration was that I’m not just any woman. I’m a woman that has had to deal with embarrassing moments for most of my life. I know how to handle awkward situations, and awkward men!
So, when John walked over to the counter and grabbed a container of “Beano” I just sat there and waited for his lips to start flapping. He put a sweet smile on his face and said, “Honey, here’s the Beano. Do you think you need the 5-gallon drum instead?”
“I don‘t know darling. You make the decision. You‘re the ‘GAS BAG’ in this relationship.”
And then there was the time he took a loaf of French Bread and held it in front of himself as he was handing it to me and said, “Penny, does this remind you of anything?”
“Yes, dear. The mailman!”
And the time he and my grandson wandered off in the drug store. I was trying to find a specific lip gloss that my granddaughter wanted when I heard John call my name. When I looked up his nibs was walking down the aisle with his arm held high in the air. “Honey, I found those condoms you were talking about last night. Do you want them in any specific color?
“No, darling. My boy friend and I tried all the colored ones last week, but if YOU want to try some tonight go back and see if they have them in a smaller size.”
“Does he do that kind of thing to you often?” the woman in the aisle asked me between her giggles.
“Oh, he’s just on a quest to find something that will actually embarrass me. Ignore him and he’ll go away." As she let her laughter overtake her she walked away muttering that her husband wasn’t going to believe this story.
John says that I have caused him to have a complex. He says that his late wife used to turn red and walk the other way when he pulled that sort thing on her. I really sympathize with him, but he picked a woman that sits in a wheelchair this second time around. I’ve learned to laugh at most of what life hands me, even if it is a political journalist with a cane in one hand and a pack of condoms in the other. He gets as good as he gives in this relationship.
I love to watch him walking out of the store with his cane and his shuffle and roll down the car windows and yell, “Are you drunk again. I can’t leave you alone for five minutes. The minute I get you home we’re gonna call AA and get your ass into some meetings!”
And then there is the time he set off all the whistles and horns as he walked through a store’s theft detection device. As he jumped and turned circles trying to find out why the store thought he was suspect I threw up my arms, smiled, and said, “Oh don’t worry about it. It’s probably just your artificial penis attachment.”
Hey, he started this game. I can’t help it if he is still traumatized by the lady that couldn’t take her eyes off of his crotch as she was walking through the parking lot.