My accessible place, or yours?
8th February 2009
Alas, it doesn't end there. The truth is that you can spend ages attending to your own needs and making sure everything's perfect, but there's nothing more inaccessible than other human beings. You can spy the most juiciest gorgeous human specimen you have ever laid eyes on, but there's no way of knowing how disability savvy they may be until you've leant in for that first kiss. Oh, that first kiss!
So whaddya do when the 'weirdness' hits? Here are four common dating nightmare stories that might already be familiar to you, each with a helpful predicted outcome:
1. The guy who doesn't realise you're disabled and gets a big surprise
The chances are that she will get a bit tired before most other people. She may find herself sinking into a carefully positioned sofa alongside the dancefloor just to get her breath back. Perhaps she'll saunter over to a nearby table and put her feet up while enjoying a drink, abandoning the mobility aid discretely underneath the furniture.
It won't be long before she is joined by a gorgeous piece of arm-candy. She will engage him in conversation. Instantly, he is smitten. Since she's sitting down, it won't have occurred to him that she even might be disabled. This is where it all goes wrong.
As he moves in to kiss her, he kicks her previously unseen mobility aid. He stops in his tracks and screeches, "Oh my God! Have you seen what's under here?! Has someone brought their grandma to the party?" The tried-and-tested response to this outburst is to shut him up by sticking your tongue in his mouth.
2. The caring girl who wants to talk about your disability all night
He wastes no time in showing off his neon hearing aids, medical alert bracelet and his camouflage crutches. He hits the dancefloor with gusto and it's perfectly obvious that he's disabled, but everyone thinks that's excellent, because he is excellent.
He does the time warp, the twist and the tango, sort of, lapping up a lot of attention along the way. He knows the moves! One lady in particular seems to thinks he's hot stuff and dances alongside him all night, especially appreciating his unique crip take on the same old dance routines. Oh wow!
Eventually, the time comes and she invites him back for 'coffee'. Bingo! Ignoring the question of whether or not her flat is accessible, he dives into a passing minicab and looks forward to the evening's entertainment. She carries him up ten flights of stairs to her penthouse and he arranges himself alluringly on her deep, inviting sofa. It's bound to be worth it.
Minutes later, she arrives with a pot of thick, dark coffee, wrapped in a silken dressing gown. "So," she says, "how old were you when you first got your diagnosis?" He answers politely, expecting to get a snog before too long.
Five hours later, she is still asking questions along the same lines, rapt by the medical weirdness of her new companion.
Eventually, he passes out in the lounge. She covers him with a blanket and retires to her bed, alone. When her new disabled friend leaves the next morning, he finds himself offering to photocopy his medical records and send them to her by recorded delivery.
3. The man who is cool about your disability until the practicalities kick in
When the bloke of his dreams sees him, our man is simultaneously clutching a walking stick and injecting himself with insulin. It doesn't matter. The new love interest strolls over to say hi, and the metaphorical fireworks start. Disability paraphernalia is flung to one side and they hold hands tightly, adoring each other. Some time later, they initiate a passionate embrace and dance like they've never danced before.
But, uh-oh, disability mistake time! His new friend decides to run his fingers through the disabled guy's glossy, beautiful mane of long hair. Disastrously, he has failed to notice that he had been holding his new love upright. The moment his supportive hands move from body to hair, our man collapses into a heap onto the cold, hard dancefloor. An ambulance is called.
4. The interfering bystander at the party
Her efforts have paid off and she's found a gorgeous, sexy potential partner-for-life, who both doesn't care that she's disabled and has grasped the fact that she finds the whole passionate snogging thing easier if she's seated or horizontal. Talk about reasonable adjustments, he's a dream boy!
The new couple are in full view of several other people, but they don't care. They're so immediately loved up, who could ever object to their antics? No one. Surely.
At some point, she wobbles over to the kitchen to refresh her drink. That's when the trouble begins. One of the other party-goers has noticed that she's looking a bit unsteady. Of course she is, she always looks like that. The bystander is unaware of these innate disability quirks, and is very concerned. Very, very, very concerned.
Back at the sofa, our heroine sees the stranger walking towards them. She has a horrible feeling she knows what is about to happen but can do nothing to stop it.
"Are you OK, young lady?" Asks the stranger looking down sympathetically. Then she turns to face the new delightful amore, still in a clinch with our heroine, telling him: "You are sick. You're deeply irresponsible to be taking advantage of someone in her position. She's a drunk and very vulnerable girl. See how she wobbles."
The lovely young man looks aghast and deeply embarrassed, like he didn't know these rules.
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