The woman is blocking my path, thrusting the wheelchair at my legs.
‘I don’t need a wheel chair,’ I tell her for the second time. ‘I am visually impaired but there is nothing wrong with my legs.’
She is having none of it however. Here in Philadelphia airport the disabled Are Assisted In A Wheelchair, dammit!
‘It will be faster,’ she says. . She is pretty solid and behind her is a rattled looking security guard. Behind me the passengers are getting restless I submit..and here’s the rub. It IS a lot faster. Barbi for that is the wheelchair pimping woman’s name, puffs along at the speed of sound whisking me through customs, baggage reclaim and back into the departures. Everyone is terribly nice, talking to Barbi over my head as if I am a well behaved child. I get a ‘well done’ when I hand over my passport. I wonder if I should drool in gratitude. Barbi, in spite of my protestations and constant pointing at my fully functioning legs, transfers me into the back of a peeping electric cart driven by another hugely fat woman who does not look as if she would be capable of walking herself.
I am taken all the way to my gate and off loaded. The seat is uncomfortable and dirty and there is an hour until we board. I ‘undisable’ myself. I will not remain in my prescribed seat. I will not be good. I stalk off back down the shiny corridor passing the fat lady in the electric cart.
‘Are you alright?’ she yells confused as to where I might, cane a-swishing, be heading.
‘I am going to find a bar.’ I yell back over the peeping. ‘I might actually NEED you to pick me up after the amount of Bloody Marys I shall be imbibing.’
‘Oh my Lord!’ wails the woman as I grin wickedly and narrowly avoid walking into someone’ luggage.
My poor cuz, recently back from an MRI scan at the hospital, sits opposite me in the far booth, watching her son licking the mirrors on the merry-go-round..
Luckily it isn’t all Chuck E Cheese. We escape in the evenings and there is sushi and cheese fries, delicious Cobb salads and the boil in a bag turkey and pie at Thanksgiving. All in all it is a manic but wonderful week. I love my cousins. They are all so smart and funny and so full of love for each other. They are exceptionally generous and gentle too. And the smalls, when good, are very very good. . The Zen Master is a marvellous cuddler and Ben gives me this work of art before I go. (I suspect it is a portrait of me after spending an hour at Chuck, E. Cheese)