When you see me for the first time, please don’t pretend that my looks don’t bother you. I’m this way because of a stupid car accident ten years ago. Just look me in the eye, because if you can’t, we’re not going to be friends. But then again, do you want to be friends with a quad?
You can’t puff me up in a pretty dress and make me a poster child for disabled adults who’ll inspire able-bodied folks like you to succeed, because, hey, if I can, you’d succeed far more than I ever can. Even with my motorized wheelchair and the thingamajigs situated on sticks around my head, I confuse everyone. Up close, I don't look all that helpless. Hell, I used to be an amateur lumberjack who won a few logrolling championships in both women’s and men’s categories. I got a few Paul Bunyan Logroller Champion of the Year plaques hanging in my room so all my visitors know that I wasn’t always a girly gimp. I even posed for a few pictures wearing a flannel shirt, suspenders, and boots atop a fallen log. I was real good at spinning my log so fast that the guy on the other end of my log would fall over into the water. Some folks actually thought I was a man by the way I rested the ax over my shoulder. So I dressed like that for fun. That was how I’d won the men’s championship. A lot of guys were pissed that I could pass so well, but that was because they didn’t want to believe a woman could beat them at their game. Sometimes being short-legged has its advantages. Some folks called me “The Little Lumberjack.” I sure had a lot of fun at those roleos.
Back then, people respected me as a diesel dyke. I was so butch that when I was young, no one even thought to give me dolls and frilly shit. They gave me play tools as if I were a boy. I roughhoused with the best of them in the neighborhood. It was the same old thing no matter how often we changed cities and countries. We were a family of military brats.
Then our bodies changed. We became “teenagers.”
Boys got nervous around me.
I got nervous around pretty girls. By then my family had settled down in Minnesota for good. I began hanging out in the library downtown and reading books I didn’t have the guts to check out. No one told me what I was, but I knew that I was different in their eyes. I read about people like Gertrude Stein, Radclyffe Hall, Rita Mae Brown, and others. I knew I wasn’t alone with those feelings. But pretty girls in my high school didn’t want to hang out with me or they’d get called names. No one called me names because I was so damn tough. But varsity jocks liked me all right.
In my sophomore year, I joined the women’s basketball team. I was good at shooting the hoop from a long ways without having to run far. But the showers afterwards were hard because my teammates shielded their bodies away from me.
Even my parents didn’t talk about marriage with me like they did with my older sisters. They knew I was different.
My dad wanted me to join the Air Force like he had, but I didn’t want a life of moving around like I had growing up. So I went to college here in Minnesota and fell in love with one woman after another. I was a bit wild back then, always fighting when I caught my latest girlfriend looking at another girl. There was always something going on. Most of the time a pretty girl looked my way and—bam! She realized what she’d been missing along. I was too happy, and not too happy when she decided she wanted to play the field, only to settle down with another girl who used to date me. I got tired of dealing with baby dykes after a while.
I took to wearing men’s clothes and smoking fat-ass cigars. I didn’t think of myself as a cross-dresser. I just felt more myself in a suit. Some asked me if I was trans, but I had no complaints about my body. I loved having my tits and pussy, so I was definitely born into the right body.
I took courses in sports medicine, physical education, and stuff like that so I could teach phys ed and coach high school teams. I did well, and then, after interning for one semester, I was offered a job at Loyola High School in Mankato. It’s not a bad city, but not many women were out of the closet. Everyone knew about me, but no one ever talked about it.
In fact, they’re still afraid to fuck with me, but it’s got nothing to do with my attitude. When anyone sees me nowadays, their bodies fill with fear. They don’t slow down and say hello. They give me smiles as tight as their assholes. They don’t want to look helpless like me. I tell folks that I’m the best reason why no one should drive and talk on the cell phone at the same time. They don’t even laugh. Somehow they force me out of their minds the next time they step into their cars and drive off. What do they do next? Of course, they whip out their cells and start yammering away to someone. Just amazing. Even I’m not enough to convince them!
It sucks to be like this, but the way I figure is this: somebody’s got to remind people that they could end up like me. It’s like karma.
I remember the last time I walked. I didn’t think anything of it, of course, since I’d been walking all my life. I was carrying my bag and shoes for a night of women’s bowling at Jerry Dutler’s Bowl, just like I always did every Wednesday night. It was winter, but that was no big deal. I had a nice used four-wheel drive Dodge that got me out of snowdrifts many times over. It was snowing a bit that night, but on U.S. 169, the car in front of me was slowing down so I slowed down, too. The problem was the car behind me. The bastard was screaming at his wife about something on his cell and lost control of his truck and ran right into me, and the car in front of me wasn’t enough to slow us down. The driver in front got killed, and I barely made it alive.
I drifted in and out of morphine, but whenever I woke up, there was always someone. I was so glad to have dated so many pretty girls, and they all knew each other, so they coordinated their visits. Say what you will about us dykes, but we do know how to put aside our differences and take good care of each other. Some of them got teary-eyed and emotional as shit when they saw how banged-up I was with tubes and stuff, but I told them to get over it. I was still their main man.
I knew if I’d showed them how much I hated feeling helpless, they’d shove horse pills of pity down my throat. I didn’t want that, so I cried at night when my door finally closed.
Mornings when I awoke, I knew I had to stay tough, and it had nothing to do with how I’d need caretakers to change my diapers and bathe me for the rest of my life. I wasn’t going to change. Uh-uh. I was still a bad-ass.
Mom couldn’t look at me the first time she visited me.
Dad couldn’t either, but he said, “You’re just like me. Tough as nails.” He was a retired sergeant who’d seen a few dead bodies in Kuwait back when he’d fought in the first Gulf War. “What do you want, soldier?”
“Jack Daniels. No ice.”
The next time he showed up at the hospital, he brought along a flask and a straw. I felt more like myself when I felt that sharp tingle burble down my throat. Damn! That tasted good. It reminded me of those nights when I hung out at parties and made out with one sweet girl after another. They all said I was a real heartbreaker. Still am. I can still have any girl I want. My brain’s still got the goods.
Mom got really pissed off at the way Dad held the flask in front of me when alcohol was against hospital regulations, but he didn’t care. “I’d want a drink too if I ended up like that.”
She left, but Dad showed up every day.
Then when I got strong enough to leave the hospital after all that physical therapy, I moved into my ex-girlfriend Joni’s house. Her mother had used a wheelchair for a long time before she died, so Joni still had that ramp in front of her house, which she had planned to tear down later that spring. Mighty convenient, I must say, so I struck a deal with Joni and her group of friends. They took turns taking care of me at night, so having a daily caretaker was good. I know how some people hate technology, but I gotta say, voice-controlled machines rock. I can call anybody I want, I can go online anytime I want, and I can move my chair anywhere in the house. Every night I sit there in the living room when Joni’s friends come over to eat popcorn and watch movies. But as for making eyes with some hot gal and making out with her in front of her girlfriend just to cause a little mischief—I know those days are over. Sometimes a girl would sit down next to me and ask me in a quiet voice if I felt anything down there.
“Nope, but our true clits are between our ears.” I give her a sexy smile. “Wanna taste my clit deep inside my tongue?” Sometimes that would freak her out. Sometimes I’ll tell a girl that my tongue alone could make her cum in two minutes flat, and she’ll take me out for a test drive after everyone’s gone. Everybody always comes back for seconds. Even if I can’t fuck like before, I’m still a top. A woman’s just gonna have to groove her curves all over my face, and I’m good. Real good.
I never know what’s gonna work with someone new, but as long as I give off attitude, I don’t have a problem with getting a girl to sit next to me and feed me. I know for some crips it’s very humiliating, but you know what? I can’t control my body, but I sure can control how I feel about myself. I’m not a wicker basket that you pass around a church congregation asking for alms. You see, this is how I see my life: I’m still a logrolling champion, except that I’m not trying to balance over a nasty river. These wheels are what I’m standing on, right here like this, and I intend to stand tall and never lose my balance with my pride. Able-bodied people don’t see me like that, but seeing those plaques up on my wall every morning when I wake up is what gets me through each day.
Hey. You can still call me Babe. Everybody does.
Receive notifications for new journal issues