Guest Post by Burrill Strong

Get comfy, but put your coffee down. This is long, and very worth it.

Today's guest post is from Burrill Strong, who you may know as Sgt. Wolverine. Burrill has a photography company and shows off his pictures on his blog, The Connective Lens. You can follow Burrill on Twitter, and I highly recommend you do. Otherwise there may be something wrong with you, and we can't help since neither of us is a doctor.

About six years ago (1), Ricky asked me to write a guest post. Iʼm still not sure why; he knows Iʼm a photographer, which means I write only a thousand words at a time and none of those words is in English. (Before you ask: no, I didnʼt write the U.S. tax code.)

Regardless, Ricky did ask for a post full of English word-things. And because I have trouble saying no, I finally wrote one.
If you search for me on the internet, you should see traces of sarcastic humor, piles and piles of photographs, and evidence of a sports fandom bordering on reasonable.(2) While that actually sums me up fairly well, the impersonal nature of the internet hides one of my most prominent physical features: my limp.

Since nearly all of you have never met me, youʼre probably wondering to what extent I limp. To provide a disconcertingly accurate picture you all should be able to understand, let me offer this description: my gait looks a little like a rhythmless guy dancing at a wedding reception.(3) But while nobody really knows why that guy is still dancing, I have a good reason for walking like I do: itʼs called cerebral palsy.

Ricky doesnʼt run a medical blog (except for when heʼs talking about sick co-workers), so Iʼll skip all the details and just tell you I have a relatively mild case that provides me with the aforementioned awkward limp, a sense of balance with somewhat more stability than Windows ME(4), and the state-given ability to smugly park in those wonderfully convenient blue parking spaces while Nelson Muntz-ing at you "normal" people.

I mention this not to beg for your pity money(5), but to let you in on a few secrets of my
life in the Blue Wheelchair Man Group.(6)

1: This may already be obvious, but...I donʼt mind talking about it.
Sometimes I get the feeling even Curious George would be wary about broaching the subject of my limp. Honestly, I can understand that, but please: donʼt be wary. I wonʼt be grumpy. Well, not about that, anyway. I have no reason to be grumpy about the way God made me, and if youʼre curious, you have no reason to be shy about asking me about the way God made me. I know my beard can be intimidating(7), but while Chuck Norris may have a fist under his beard, I have only a chin under mine. I promise.

2: Iʼm not a fan of all the euphemistic terms that have been invented to refer to people like me.
When I look in the thesaurus under the currently popular (and also somewhat irksome) term disabled, I find terms like challenged, differently-abled and exceptional. Iʼd make a joke about those, but like Lady Gaga, theyʼre already so absurd that any joke would seem serious in comparison.(8)

In response to the inane avalanche of unnecessary euphemisms, several years ago I decided to join the hyphenated name craze of the ʻ90s(9) by suggesting a new name: Euphemism-American. Sadly, I donʼt think itʼs caught on just yet.

3: I find your kidsʼ comments hilarious.
Iʼve lost track of the number of times a child has deeply embarrassed his parents by boldly proclaiming his assessment of my condition. One of my favorites occurred years ago in a local grocery store when a little girl, upon observing my gait, declared (in that exceptionally loud voice kids use when theyʼre saying something their parents donʼt want them to say), "Momma! That manʼs walkinʼ SO FUNNY!" As I started laughing, I turned around to see the mortified mom making record time to the next aisle.

Hereʼs the thing: in general, little kids donʼt say things like that to be mean; they say things like that because theyʼre just observing the world around them without a filter. Theyʼre just saying what theyʼre seeing.(10) This isnʼt to say kids shouldnʼt learn not to say everything that occurs to them; rather, this is to say I think itʼs silly to be angry about the guileless observations of kids. If Iʼm going to be angry about something, itʼs going to be about something especially egregious, like CBSʼ canceling The Unit.(11) Or the continued existence of the state of Ohio.(12)

Incidentally, this point relates to #1: sometimes kids prompt a conversation when one
wouldnʼt otherwise have happened.

4: I donʼt automatically bond with other similar Euphemism-Americans.
Iʼve had people tell me they know somebody with CP, and theyʼd love to introduce us. I do appreciate the well-intentioned thought, but from my perspective thatʼs like saying, "You have brown hair? I know somebody with brown hair! Youʼd probably love to meet him/her." See how strange that sounds? For me, CP isnʼt an important defining characteristic; itʼs just another attribute, like brown hair, green eyes or skin that has a painful fascination with sunburns.

For future reference, hereʼs a partial list of good ways to fill in this blank for me: "I know somebody who ______! Youʼd probably love to meet him/her."

•loves Jesus
•enjoys photography
•is convinced fall weekends exist solely for football
•believes a man cannot be truly good-looking without facial hair
•knows Avatar was, without a doubt, the worst movie of the year

5: Iʼm not good at ending blog posts gracefully.

The end!(13)

This may sound like a slight exaggeration, but I was told "six years" is a common
synonym for "several months."

As a name on the internet, Burrill Strong is the anti-John Smith. If youʼre searching for
my name, youʼre going to get some search returns about me and a maybe few search
returns about the strong earnings reports from a business called Burrill & Co. If I do
something stupid on the internet, I canʼt blame it on that other Burrill Strong from
Chariton, Iowa.

3 If youʼve ever been to a wedding reception, you should know exactly what I mean. If
you donʼt know exactly what I mean, then Iʼm sorry to break it to you, but Iʼm probably
talking about you, Sir Trips-A-Lot.

I once owned a computer with Windows ME. I now have two Macs. Those two facts
have nothing to do with each other, but you wouldnʼt have been surprised if theyʼd been
connected, right?

But if youʼre offering, Iʼm not turning you down. Momma didnʼt raise no fool.

Note that I said "my life". Keep in mind Iʼm probably not representative of most people in the BWMG. Thatʼs good, because if there were too many people like me, the world would be a terrifying place. On the bright side, it might also be a place in which Dancing with the Stars was quickly canceled due to low ratings.

No joke: somebody once told me my beard was intimidating. After my beard finished emptying their wallet, I told them that was a hilarious notion.

The only term that gets a pass from me is handicapable, and thatʼs just because Iʼm certain itʼs impossible to use that term seriously. Even Walter Cronkite wouldnʼt be able to say it without laughing.

Anyone who knows me will tell you Iʼm perpetually late. My being so late to the hyphenated name craze, then, is not out of character. I guess Iʼm just Differently-Time-Abled.

10 Put another way, kids have a knack for exhibiting honesty without tact. This stands in contrast to the many successful politicians who have a knack for exhibiting tact without honesty.

11 Iʼd watch any show starring Dennis Haysbert. I even like his Allstate commercials. Did you know he made a brief appearance in an early episode of the A-Team? Yeah, heʼs that good.

12 There once was a war between Michigan and Ohio. They ended up with Toledo; we ended up with the gorgeous Upper Peninsula. Most sensible people consider that a victory for Michigan. Those who donʼt consider it as such probably live in Ohio.

13 I told you Iʼm not good at ending blog posts gracefully.

Wow. I don't even know what to say, that was so good. What's your funniest story regarding your kids and a Euphemism-American?