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Monday, March 28, 2011

The Years of Magical Legs

While I'm generally opposed to 'My Significant Other Is So Wonderful' posts, sometimes one needs to publicly, and unambiguously, declare the wonders of the person one chooses to spend a life with.

Why is it sometimes needed? I don't know. Why do people insist on asking themselves rhetorical questions, then answering them? Who knows. But the fact remains: sometimes a 'My Significant Other Is So Wonderful' post is called for.

First off, I'm a notorious misanthrope. It is not a pose. Just as I did not choose to be gay, I did not choose to be generally disgusted with my fellow humans--and I don't mean on an individual basis, since I am lucky to know several remarkable and exceptional individuals. But any time you get more than three people in a group, there are two people too many up to no good.

This is my issue of course and is no reflection on the multi-person gatherings upon which I've inflicted my presence. They were fine gatherings. Most of the people were more concerned with putting a right foot on red and a left hand on yellow, and not at all inclined to be assholes.

As a notorious misanthrope, I made an unexpected choice in a life-partner. A husband. Greg tends to like other people even when he goes into his dark places.

About Greg's dark places: Some people have physical handicaps to overcome--a bad or missing leg, paralysis, etc. Some, like Greg, have mental handicaps. Please forgive me if I sound awkward when writing about this, but I'm still learning the language, still learning how to phrase the issue in a way that is neither offensive nor trivial.

Let me go at it this way: A person with an obvious physical handicap is, well, obvious. Other people see the wheel chair or the cane or the useless sleeve pinned to the shoulder. And, in seeing these things, other people are able to make certain assumptions. And, for all the assumptions we make, we recognize there's no reason to doubt the person can do what they're asked to do.

Greg, however, has a different kind of handicap--and I'm not even sure 'handicap' is the proper word. But he has something hidden that is a legitimate difficulty to overcome, a difficulty that isn't immediately obvious. It is as if he has magical legs which appear normal to the observer but do not in fact exist. When asked to pick up coffee for the office, for instance, it's assumed he can quite easily walk down to the Starbucks and pick up coffee. Without incident, without inconvenience.

Truth is, on some days Greg's magical legs fail him. They don't exist. It's almost as if he's paralyzed from the waist down and crawling with his arms, no benefit of a wheelchair or cane. And why this is the image I've settled on I don't know, but from observation and from conversations with Greg, it's this image I'm stuck with: Greg, sent out on the ordinary task of picking up a few lattes for coworkers, all of whom are unaware of the strained journey they've set out before him.

Greg, collapsed because his magical legs aren't really there for him, reaching one arm out and digging the nails of his hand into the linoleum of the office floor and pulling himself forward, then the next arm, the next hand, another clawing forward; the awkward reach upwards for the elevator buttons; the reach and claw along the lobby, the attempts to push open the heavy glass door, the reach and claw along the sidewalk.

I don't even want to think about the placement of the order at the Starbucks counter or the maddening crawl back to the office, balancing the coffees while crawling, scraping his body toward the elevator, then the office.

Some days Greg is fine. Excited with life. Loving. Hell, even on his bad days, he's loving. He loves everything even in his despair, which makes that despair all the more tragic because no matter how dark the world seems for him he can't stop loving it.

Some years back, I did some things I should not have done. Probably Greg should've kicked me out and had nothing more to do with me. What he did tho was forgive me, and by extension save me. And continued to save me, over and over until I was, you know, safe. Greg was the only person capable of pulling off such a task even though he had magical disappearing legs and even though the task of saving me from myself was very much like asking him to drag himself to Starbucks. I regret that I didn't truly see his legs for what they were, then. I regret that I took his assistance for granted and drank the coffee, and didn't give him the respect he deserved for pulling himself along the linoleum to make sure I got it.

If this post seems to vague: Sorry. I sympathize. I set off to be unambiguous in my expression of 'My Significant Other Is So Wonderful' but ended up making everything a bit more opaque. Frosted glass and onion skin paper.

Maybe this will give some clarification on why "My Significant Other is So Wonderful:" Just after we met, 10 years ago, Greg chided me. "You so obviously wanted to fuck," he said.

"No, I didn't. Really."

"You were sitting with your legs wide open."

"Greg. I was just sitting. Maybe I was unfortunately comfortable."

"So you were unfortunately comfortable with your legs splayed on my couch."

"Yes. I was unfortunately comfortable on your couch. I didn't think I had to curb my natural splay habits so sent all my limbs akimbo."

"Have you considered a career as a couch model?"

"No."

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