Every social interaction that you may take for granted completely changes when you’re on wheels. It’s like being stuck in an alternate universe where you know how things should work, but the normal rules do not apply.
BROKEN SOCIAL NORMS
There are a lot of things that are “backwards” for me that people don’t think about. I personally feel that men should hold doors open for women. Maybe it’s a Texas thing, or maybe it’s just a traditional old-school man thing, but I really feel that I should open doors and pull chairs out for women. I can’t pull a chair out for a woman unless I get there 20 minutes early. How do I get my chair around her chair so that I can push her chair out of the way? And then once she sits down, how to I gracefully help her slide forward to the table? Maybe if I ram it under with my wheelchair. Yeah, that’s chivalry. And stuff.
Come to think of it, nothing with dating is as it should be for a guy in a wheelchair. I remember when I was much much younger being in a bar and a woman asking me to dance. So I go out in the middle of the floor and it slowly dawns on her that I can’t dance. So she asks me, “So, how exactly do we do this?” I smiled and said, “You can sit in my lap”. I took her for a spin around the bar in my wheelchair. She said she would remember it forever because it was the best time she ever had in a bar. She probably didn’t, because she was too drunk to even remember me by the next day.
Unfortunately, if I were in a room with sober women this never would have happened. If I were to ask a sober woman to sit on my lap in my chair, they would be worried that 1. they are going to hurt me or 2. they start thinking that I’m a pervert. I am not a pervert, but riddle me this, all you women out there…How is a handicapped guy supposed to touch you or make any sort of move whatsoever if you are hovering so much higher up there? I’m sitting, you’re standing. By social norms, I’m allowed to maybe touch your elbow or shoulder to connect with you, but reaching up for an elbow looks like I’m reaching up for a breast and anything below that is off limits. I’m totally screwed. I swear I’m not a pervert. But maybe if I throw myself out of my chair I can get you to touch me. LOL. Just kidding.
Me trying to actually make a move on a lady is like a three-toed sloth trying to climb up a tree. It’s like a one legged frog trying to swim to China from the USA, or even from Japan for that matter. But, I digress…
In college I had a friend named Nikki. We were fairly close. Her birthday was coming up and I asked her what she would like for her birthday. She said she would like a ride in my lap across campus to her class. All the women who saw us gave us looks like, “How did that guy get that girl into his lap?” The men seemed to be looking like, “That guy is awesome!” When she got to her class, the other girls were talking about her in whispered tones. Finally, she pulled one of the girls aside and asked what was up. The girl said that the other girls were concerned that she may have hurt me by sitting on my lap. They didn’t think it was “appropriate” and so forth. They asked her, “What if you had broken his legs?” Nikki confidently said, “The worst I could have done is break his legs, but it’s not like he uses those anyway!”
I’m so glad that she took the ride in my chair. I felt included and normal for a little while.
I can’t hold doors open for women either. Usually they hold the door open for me. This is completely emasculating. I feel like I’m a failure in some way when this happens. I say, “Thank you”, but I’m thinking, “If I had working legs, I would totally sweep you off of your pretty little feet. I might even carry you through the threshold.”
When shopping items are on the top shelf it’s embarrassing if I have to ask a woman who is 5 foot 3 wearing 3 inch heels to reach the Fruity Pebbles or Count Chocola for me because I can’t. (Yes, I’m a child.) Not only does she look at me strangely because I’m asking her to get the cereal for me, but also because of the type of cereal. I should shake the box and say, “I wonder if there’s a toy in here?”