Friday, January 20, 2012

guest blog: j. alfred potter

I've known Ruby since she was in middle school in Hammond, Indiana. While we lost contact after she moved to the Colorado area, the wonderful world of Facebook allowed us to get back into contact. When she approached me about being a guest on her blog, I was floored. I have always had the utmost respect for her and after reading her weblog, I knew this was an opportunity I had to leap at.

Before I dive into the latest edition of "The Ramblings of the Deranged" (which is something I call all my writings), I feel that it's pertinent to give a little background information about myself. I am twenty eight years old and living in New Orleans, Louisiana. I finished high school at a prestigious all boys' Catholic School where I was the first physically disabled student to graduate from there in their 127 year history. I have a strong background in football equipment maintenance and repair. I attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for sports' management and worked with the Ragin' Cajun football team during the 2003 season as the first physically disabled equipment manager. I am an avid writer and aspiring stand-up comedian.

As I have stated twice in this already short entry, I am physically disabled. I have a disease called spina bifida occluta It's a degenerative condition of the spine that has severe neurological, orthopedic, and urological problems associated with it. Sad fact of the matter is, I have been told several times in my life that I don't have much time. I do my best to pack in as much awesomeness into the time, and that's how I live. 

I always tell people I have one major rule. “Don’t ever call me a cripple”. Simple enough right?
First off, to explain why I have this rule, you must know what the word means to me. But even before I can do that, one must know the literal definition of the word cripple. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the term as the following:
  1. a sometimes offensive : a lame or partially disabled person or animal
    b :  one that is disabled or deficient in a specified manner <a social cripple>
  2. Something flawed or imperfect.
This word comes from the Middle English cripel, which in turn is from the Old English crypel. This is akin to the Old English wordcrÄ“opan, which means to creep. This word first made it’s way into the English vernacular just before the 12th century.

Today this word carries a heavy connotation-especially for the disabled. People traditionally hear the word and think of those disabled that do nothing for themselves and wallow in their own self pity. The “cripple” is mean and vindictive and blames the world for their disability. They’re content with being miserable. They view their condition as a curse that defines them. They hate themselves and those around them because they feel they’re trapped.

That’s why I hate the word. I have worked hard to deal with my disability to the best of my abilities and move beyond them. Sure, I probably don’t deal with them as best as someone else with the disability would, but there is no panacea when it comes to the day-to-day physical and psychological trials and tribulations of debilitating diseases.

I used to think that I wasn’t that. I thought I was already well adjusted for someone with spina bifida occulta. I am honestly now thinking that I am wrong. I am very angry with the world. The truth is, I hate everyone who isn’t disabled.

If you all only knew. If you only knew what it was like to watch as your life slip away from you, both literally and figuratively, in a way that you cannot stop because of things that have nothing to do with choices you have made or actions you have taken. It makes me mad. Mad with a bitter rage that could fuel the sun.

I pity myself all the time. I watch a football game and realise my body can’t do what those men are doing on the field but my mind tells me it can. That’s the gods' greatest trick-make someone crave something more than anything, get them to learn every possible thing about it they can, allow them to get close enough to take it, but keep it just out of reach, forever. Live like that and try not to feel sorry for yourself.

Writing this, I think about more than just this. We each have things we’re completely angry about. We all have things in or about our lives we absolutely hate. It’s true of all of us. If you say differently about yourself, you’re not very well adjusted at all-or you’re Jesus Christ. We all pity ourselves.

That said, we’re all cripples. Each and every one of us are. There’s nothing special about any of us.

I will still hate the word and it’s connotation. I still won’t tolerate it when people call me a cripple, but now that I know that each one of us are cripples, it won’t sting as much.

Or maybe I am just talking out my rear. Either way, it’s been said.

Comedy is very important to me. It's become how I deal with the trials and tribulations of my life. I firmly believe that we all have things that make us uncomfortable, sad, afraid, lonely, and less than human. If we take those things and steadily laugh at them, they no longer have the power to hurt us.
So I get billed as a comedian, which isn’t true. I am more of a song and dance man. If you could see me or have actually seen my act, you’d know why that joke is funny.

I am actually sad. I was watching television the other night and learned that video killed the radio star. This is made especially sad because a DJ could have saved her life. To be fair, I don’t know why I am sad about it. You see, she didn’t dance, and if you don’t dance; you’re no friend of mine.

Speaking of friends, my friends and I live in our house—in the middle of our street. One of my friends walked five hundred miles. Then he walked five hundred more to be the man to cum on Eileen. He knows that girls just want to have fun.

You know what girls don’t want? They don’t want to be disabled.

Now I know that no one wants to be disabled, really. I mean, why would someone? There aren’t many perks…

Actually my friend, there are. We can cut in line at Disney World for rides that we cannot go on and enjoy. We get the bigger stall in the public bathrooms that someone is either always using or has left a mess. We get that blue parking space that costs the rest of you jerks four hundred bucks to use. We can call each other “cripple”, much like black people can call each other the “n-bomb”. Get used to it.

I get applause when I walk down the street. Just the other day I was walking down Frenchman Street in New Orleans and was showered with praise by this really nice black lady. “You go sweetheart!” “Yeah! Look at you going wit yo’ bad self!” I got the best self-esteem boost one could possibly get. You see people expect you to just walk down the street. Me? Crap, I get a standing ovation like I am Jeff Dunham playing to an audience full of Down's Syndrome kids from rural Mississippi while they’re trying to eat the invisible shoulder cookie. I swear getting applauded for doing stuff that I am supposed to do is like having a government job.

Now some of you don’t want to laugh at this concept or even at the disabled. Screw you; the disabled are funny as hell. You try to imagine Michael J. Fox playing “Jenga” or Stephen Hawking singing Rio by Duran Duran. Now yes, Fox playing “Jenga” would leave the playing area looking like Haiti.

Now I have offended you. I know it. You probably liked me more when I was tastelessly stringing together poppy songs from the 80s. Eat it. I will not be politically correct. Politically correct language has ruined the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. We cannot say that they’re fat anymore; now they’re “geometrically challenged”. They’re not “faggots”, they’re “male fellatio enthusiasts”. He’s not a “janitor”, he’s a “floor technician”.

I am not disabled, I am “alternatively engineered”. Seriously folks. Now I am badly built and designed bridge, much like the Huey P. Long Bridge of the New Orleans area, that was built by the lowest common denominator, also much like the Huey P. bridge. Seriously, the term “alternatively engineered” brings up memories of bad episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man, excuse the redundancy. The new show opener could be “we can build him slower, less efficiently, and with missing parts”. I swear because of my over sensitive politically liberal brethren, I now feel like my parent’s bought me from a Swedish “build a baby” company.

Honestly, don’t be politically correct. PC language is more dangerous than a Florida voting booth (there’s a callback to 2001 for you).

I thank you for taking the time to read my guest entry in Mrs. Matheny's blog. If you wish to contact me you can e-mail me at, contact me at Facebook by searching "J. Alfred Potter", looking up "roguestoryteller" on YouTube, or following me on Twitter at @Rogue_Bard.

Thank you kindly. 

Semper Servus,

J. Alfred Potter


  1. Can I just say as someone who has spastic hemiplegia (Cerebral Palsy) that I love the heck out of this guest post?

    I do, seriously.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Remy,

      Thank you for your comment. I greatly appreciate it. My favourite comedian and close friend, Josh Blue, has Cerebral Palsy. He's one of the reasons I got into stand up in the first place.

      Semper Servus

  2. I have mixed feelings about this post.

    I understand the humor, I get the message. (well, maybe I don't- tell me if I'm wrong).

    I agree, people get a little crazy about being PC and it goes overboard. Fat people are fat. Get over it.

    I also know how it feels to hate the world who is normal. My brother especially knows:

    But I hate the word retarded like you hate the word cripple. Probably more than people hate the "n" word. I hate it. So to me, being politically correct (to a point) is absoluately necessary for being sensitive.

    I don't pity a single person. Why? Not because I am spiteful, but because I feel that pity is something that people bestow upon people and who are they to say that their life is better than anyone else's? We haven't been in their mind, their body, known their soul. No. Pity is bad.

    But do empathize. Do be sensitive.

    Sorry for the long comment- I just had to agree and disagree.

  3. First, on the word "retarded". The word originally meant "to be held back" or "hindered". Much like "cripple", "retarded" has fallen victim to the laziness and mean spirited nature of humanity and language. The "n-word", reported to have first been used in 1574, was always used for hate speech.

    I understand where political correctness comes from -- a scant forty years ago, we were doing "Amos 'n' Andy" jokes on the airwaves, for chrissakes. We were barbaric louts. But now, suddenly, we find ourselves in a classic overcorrection, where we're all supposed to zip through life like some huge societal squadron of Blue Angels, flying six inches off each other's taste wing, never ever deviating even one angstrom. Well, folks, there are a lot of different aircraft careening through the social stratosphere, and we better start working out some respectfully independent glide paths right now, or it's gonna start getting really messy.

    Why don't we start by letting humor serve as our guide? Laughter is one of the great beacons in life because we don't defract it by gunning it through our intellectual prism. What makes us laugh is a mystery -- an involuntary response. If I could explain to you why Dane Cook makes me laugh when he's trying to be serious, and why he makes me straight-faced when he's trying to get me to laugh, I'd have the answer. But I don't. But damn it, I'm telling you the key lies somewhere in Cook! Yeah, Dane is the "Stargate" on this. And I'm pretty sure, the comedic Rosetta Stone lies somewhere in his "Christ Chex" bit. And I think Jerry Seinfeld will back me up on that.


    1. The point is, people who are threatened by jokes are the same people who tend to refer to actors on the soap operas by their character's name. Listen, there's a real world, and then there's the joke world, okay. The joke world we can get tough -- wear a cup.

      Y'know something, folks, it wouldn't hurt if everybody held their cards a little closer to their vest. Don't let 'em know they've rattled you if it hits close to home. You should be able to take that joke right in the solar plexus, get up, get that two-cycle weed-whacker engine of a brain humming, and give as good as you got. And if you get bested, go home, sharpen your verbal machete, and get ready for the next thicket.

      The truth is, the human sense of humor tends to be barbaric, and it's been that way all along. I'm sure on the eve of the Nativity, when the "tall" Magi smacked his forehead on the crossbeam while entering the stable, Joseph took a second away from pondering who impregnated his wife and laughed his little carpenter butt off.

      You know a sense of humor is exactly that -- a sense. Not a fact, not etched in stone, not an empirical math equation, but just what the word intones -- a sense of what you find funny.

      And obviously everybody has a different sense of what's funny. If you need confirmation of that, I would remind you that "Whitney" recently celebrated the greenlight of their second. Oh well, one man's Moliere is another man's Whitney Cummings, and that's the way it should be. But there are those who feel the need to enlist you in a cult whose core doctrine consists solely of their personal beliefs. Well, I subscribe to the theory of "The Cult of One." The cult of the individual. That way, if I "lemming off the cliff, I'm only following my own nose and not the ass of another lemming. That's what America's all about. A great nation that guarantees you the right to lead whatever sort of existence you want to lead, that guarantees me the right to ridicule it mercilessly.


    2. You know something, there's nothing wrong with a culture where everybody has a different idea of what's humorous. The last time I can remember an entire nation being on the same page, it was Germany in the late thirties and it didn't really turn out that funny. Remember: In its time and place, what Hitler said was considered politically correct; and it's that blind adherence to what is situationally palatable that is truly dangerous. We should question it all. Poke fun at it all. Piss off on it all. Rail against it all.

      And most important, for Heaven's sake, laugh at it all. Because the only thing separating holy writ from complete B.S. is your perspective. It's your only weapon. Keep the safety off, don't take yourself too seriously, and remember that at the end of the day, this is just an ant farm with beepers, and it takes zero politically correct assholes to screw in a light bulb, because they are perpetually in the dark.

      Now I am not saying the word "retarded" is funny or even appropriate. I am not going on that record at all. I am simply saying that while it is offensive, we should strengthen ourselves against that word and "cripple" and even the "n-word" to take away the power the words have over us all.

      I may have come across as disrespectful to you. If I did, I apologise profusely. That was the furthest from my intentions. Civil discussions like this one in which two individuals can politely and eloquently express their differing opinions to one another in an effort to educate each other are what makes this country and the American society a great one to be a part of.

      Again, thank you for your comment and I apologise if I offended you in any way.