The guy who lives in the apartment next to me was in a motorcycle accident a few years ago and it’s left him confined to a wheelchair. He can move his arms, but he’s lost that GI Joe kung-fu grip -so he’s basically a paraplegic (his wheelchair is electric and has one of those joystick thingies). I guess he’s been in some sort of “assisted living” type situation until recently and this is his first time “out on his own” since the accident.
I pretty much keep to myself around here, so that’s basically all I knew about the guy until a couple of nights ago when I ran into him in the elevator. I could tell right away he was wasted… I mean shit faced… let me put it this way, a wheelchair can be the ultimate alcoholic enabler. For example, if you’re in a wheelchair it doesn’t matter if you are too trashed to even stand up straight -because you don’t have to!
… not to mention… and I hadn’t considered this before, but it’s entirely likely that he has some sort of catheter situation hooked up so he doesn’t have to struggle with getting in and out of his chair every time he has to take a piss. I don’t even want to know what’s in all those bags and gizmos hanging from his chair, but if it wasn’t for that whole “can’t feel a thing below my waste” bit -it’s actually starting to sound like a pretty good deal.
Anyway, he kept looking up at me out of the corner of his eye and whispering something even though we were the only two people in the elevator.
Finally I heard him whisper, “Hey man, do you self medicate?”
What the hell? Who says shit like that?
“I smoke weed, if that’s what you mean.”
This was a mistake. I should have kept my mouth shut like I always do in the elevator. Just because I have to stand next to you for thirty seconds does not make me your friend. If you think it’s awkward standing next to someone in silence for thirty seconds -then guess what? You talk way too much and you need to shut it.
The next thing I know, this guy is INSISTING that I step into his apartment to check out his awesome collection of medicinal cannabis. Apparently, this guy has quite a bit of time on his hands because he’s one of those “weed scholar” types… he began rattling off strains and THC percentages and the perfect temperature at which to smoke weed out of his vaporizer, etc, etc. all the while, still whispering to me like we’re fifteen years old sparking up a doobie in the backyard tool shed.
The guy had all the tools -the special container for the weed, the grinder, a little Dixie cup to transfer the ground up weed over to the vaporizer… Of course, given his inebriated state and limited ability to use his hands he had me do all the dirty work. I even started to wonder if maybe he was just using me to pack his vape for him… anyway, we toked up a bit and I could tell that shit was really starting to kick in his buzz… he was rolling and squirming and thrashing around in his chair so much that the jacket he was wearing was slowly coming unzipped -revealing his pasty white chest underneath. I guess when it’s a real pain in the ass to dress yourself -you skip the shirt if you’re wearing a jacket. I started to wonder where this was going… surely this dude was seconds away from passing out. What was I getting myself into? Was this dude just going to pass out right there in his chair? Should I do something? How does this guy even get into bed anyway?
… and that’s when it happened… he looked up at me with this helpless look on his face and said, “I need some help with my jacket.”
“Here it comes,” I thought… now that we’ve toked out, it’s late and he’s wasted -I am his official nurse for the evening. I wondered how far I would have to go… am I going to have to take off his shoes and lift him into bed too? What about his pants? There is no fucking way I’m taking off another dude’s pants… but I’m a trooper and I can look past all this macho bullshit to help a brother out in need. So I take a deep breath and say, “Sure man, I can help you out…” as I reach over and slowly unzip his jacket.
“Dude! I meant UP! I need help zipping my jacket UP, man! What the fuck!“
The only thing more awkward than partially undressing my handicapped neighbor was the indignity of having to reach back over and zip him back up.
I then quickly and politely made my exit.
I haven’t seen him since that night… maybe he’s avoiding me, but I’m gonna go ahead and pretend he was black out drunk and doesn’t remember a thing… in fact, I’m gonna go ahead and pretend I was black out drunk too… forget I said anything.
I need another shower.