“You don’t need to find a normal guy, you need to find someone just like you. Then you both would understand one another”. What in the hell was my grandmother talking about. I couldn’t believe we were even on the subject of men. For as long as I could remember my grandmother has always had the belief that I should not grow up, meet and marry a “normal” guy. Normal, meaning someone without a physical disability, unlike myself. My granny meant well but I was now 26 years old and living in my own place I did not feel that I needed to hear that same old statement over and over again, especially in my own house. “Nikkie, since you and Darnell have split up why don’t you think about dating Pookie? He seems like a nice guy. I like him.” I knew the real reason why she liked Pookie and it wasn’t because he was a nice guy but because he was a nice guy with Cerebral Palsy just like me. So granny looked at him like he was gold. Never mind that I was not attracted to him in any other way than just a friend. He had a physical disability, so therefore he understood me better and that made him THE ONE. At least it did in her book. It didn’t make him crap in my book, he was just a friend. Period. I didn’t bother to respond to her comment. I opted to just sit there and continue drinking my hot chocolate and appear to be interested in the seemingly never-ending conversation. Pookie, whose real name is Theodore, was indeed a good guy but I wasn’t interested in him as a potential mate. I wasn’t interested in any mate to be honest. I had just broken up with Darnell, my boyfriend, who I had been dating for two and a half years. He was my best friend. My heart was still breaking. Pookie, however, wanted to play on my pain and try to weasel himself into my heart that just was not going to happen. I had to give him credit for trying though. He was persistent. I am normally attracted to really dark men. Men who care about their hygiene is a must, I have to say that because some men just don’t care about their hygiene. Other than that I look for a sense of humor and a guy with a lot of common sense. Not everyone has been to college I understand that so major book sense is not a high requirement, but if the guy has it I’ll take it. I can’t stand a doofus eww! “Hey Nikkie, you wa –wa waaanna r r r ride with me?” Pookie had speech complications associated with his Cerebral Palsy but he was understandable if you paid close attention plus he would repeat himself because he knew a lot of people couldn’t understand him, I wasn’t one of those people. Pookie and I had the same defect but we were two very different people physically. Cerebral Palsy is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain for the baby during birth. Cerebral Palsy affects people differently. Some people just have it one side of there body and some have it all over. Some people can talk . Some people can’t. Some people can talk but it may be a little hard to understand, such is the case with Pookie. I, on the other hand, can speak perfectly fine and I get around well without the help of walking or riding aids. My legs turn inward when I walk as if they are trying to compete with one another for more step time, my back has a huge sway when I walk and my arms tend to position themselves in the outward position, I think for balance. It’s very interesting to see. But not as interesting as Pookie. He does have walking and riding aids. His back also has a sway in it but his legs go up and then down slowly in a look-like-his-legs-are-spazing-kinda- motion. His hands and legs don’t allow him to hold and walk at the same time holding something like a cup of water in his hand. He walks with a cane and will use a wheelchair for long distances that tire him out. But he works everyday and drives himself wherever he needs to go. In that aspect we are just alike. “Yeah, where are you going? I asked. I was glad the phone rang so it would interrupt my granny’s ramblings over me and the “normal” guy. Every time his car rolled I was in it for the most part. I do like to get up and go. “Youuuuuuuuuuu know where IIIIIIIII am going, then aaaaafter that we can just ride and maaaaaaaaaybe get something to eat”. “I guess I can”. I replied as if I was doing him a favor. “Girl, please don’t aaaaccct like you got something beeeeeeetter to do it ain’t like you got aaaaaaa man or something, buuuuuutttt if you want one here I am” he said with a throaty laugh. “Whatever” I replied that was my usual response to him for just about anything he said. I never took Pookie too seriously because he was always acting so silly. We did have our moments though where we talked about our real feelings on a variety of subjects but mainly we talked about how it felt to be us in a world that often times treats us differently because we are different physically. It was always interesting to hear how Pookies’ upbringing was somewhat similar to mine as far as how we were raised that we could do anything anyone else could do but in our minds we knew we had some limitations. The funniest parts about some of our conversations is how we would share our stories of how we got out of walking certain distances if we said we couldn’t do it or if we said our legs hurt. On the one hand we wanted to fit in and on the other hand we didn’t care just as long as we got out of doing what we didn’t really want to do. I grew up in the south during the 1980’s and during that time I attended a school were I was the only “special” student so a lot of my teachers really didn’t know how to respond to me. We use to go on field trips that did not require us to have to get a bus we could walk to certain locations. This presented a problem for me if that’s what you want to call it. I called it using what I had. On these trips the teacher would say that all of the fifth grade students from the entire fifth grade hall will be going on this field trip and that we were going to walk everyone except Nikkie she will ride with Mrs. Carter. I was never asked if I could or wanted to walk with my classmates, which most times I didn’t, but that wasn’t the point, but it irritated me that most people assumed I couldn’t do something so they never asked and I never asked me. Pookie was the same way he would tell his classmates that he didn’t understand his homework so they would do it for him, that clown using his disability like that, man why didn’t I think of that! I had too much mouth that gave me away I could never shut up long enough from asking questions to get away with that. Those were some of our funniest conversations. ‘Thanks man, she was on another one her roles again” I said as I got in the car. “Leeeeeeeeeet me guess, theeeeeeeeee normal guy talk. “You know it” Pookie and I always seemed to get one another. We did his usual five o’clock thing dropped his daily numbers off. Then we hung out with some of his friends and then we grabbed a bite to eat. It was never a dull moment with him. He got a rise out of his friends thinking we were a couple and because that made him happy I never said anything otherwise. “Why do you waste three dollars a day playing numbers not to win anything when you could give that money to me? I asked as we sat in his car eating. He never liked to get out unless we were at a nice casual restaurant but just for fast food we would either go to his apartment, my apartment or eat in the car in the parking lot of our apartments and talk. “Because one day IIIIIIIIIIIIIIII am going to hit big aaaaaaaaaanndddddddd then I am goiiing to buy a big house for us.” What was he talking about? Did they cook our burgers in crazy grease? Because that’s how he was talking, crazy. I just had to ask Who is us? You and your momma or you and your brother? “OOOOOOk-k-k-ayyyyyyy act like you don’t want me, but when I hit it big don’t look at me in a new light aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa rich l-l-lighhhhhhhhht” . “Don’t worry, I won’t” I assured him. He just looked at me and said “alright” as if he knew something that I didn’t know and that something was going to change my feelings for him. I wasn’t even about to entertain him in another conversation of how money can’t buy me. However, little did I know he did know something that I didn’t he was holding a secret that he could no longer hold anymore from me. I never put anything together as to why Pookie did some of the things he did or shall I say some of the things he didn’t do. The one big thing we had in common was that we never purposely liked to draw attention to ourselves, we did enough of that naturally. There was one instance that we did draw attention to ourselves but not because we were really trying to but it turned out to be a hilarious moment. We were in our local Wal-Mart store and Pookie wanted to use one of the in-store wheelchairs but not the manual wheelchair he wanted to use the motorized chair. The customer assistant informed us that they had lost the key to that chair and that we were welcome to use the manual chair well that didn’t fly well at all with Pookie. I told him that he could use that chair and that I would push him but that didn’t go well at all. The whole seen was rather funny because there we were in the front of the store people were already staring when we walked in and now here we were arguing over a wheelchair. Pookie said that the manual chair was the old peoples chair and that he was not going to sit in it. I said why not I will push you and you can put your stuff in the little basket in front of it. He said “maaaaaan! I am not sitting in the old peoples chair!” By this time other customers had began to smile and enjoy our little episode I think we had too because now he was laughing and I was too. So he finally won by saying that he would just use a buggy to hold on to because he was not going to be seen in the old peoples chair. I didn’t realize at the time why Pookie fought so hard to be normal. Pookie was in so much pain that he couldn’t move. We had just picked up some dinner and we decided to eat at his apartment. My granny was still in town crashing at my place. I wanted to enjoy dinner and Pookie without her fine tuning her super duper all hearing radar ears we went to his place. Only we never made it into his apartment. Pookie had been unusually quiet that night we talked but not much so I knew something was wrong I just didn’t know what. We pulled into the parking lot, he cut the motor off and said “Nikkie, I need you to call an ammmmbulance for me na na na now!” My heart started raising my eyes got so wide they felt as if they were going to pop right out of my sockets. I panicked! What was wrong? I wanted to know. He was in so much pain that he couldn’t move not even to get out of the car. So I got my cell phone and quickly called 9-1-1. Once we got to the emergency room the doctor on call explained to me that Pookie was going to be just fine and he went on to say that Pookie has been in pain for months now and that he had been getting Cortizone shots to help ease the pain. However, the shots were no longer working and now other methods were being considered. It all made sense now as to why he never wanted to do too much walking but when he did he was trying to fight through his leg pain. The tissue that use to be in his hip bone had completely deteriorated which now he had bone rubbing against bone that caused much pain. I did not feel like I should ask him all of my why questions siting there in the emergency room so I waited until they released him around two in the morning and I drove him back home safely before I said anything. I thought that was best.