Crotch-gazing is the wave of the handicap accessible future. Thus I learned from a recent stay in a brand new, wheelchair accessible hotel.
The architect who designed the place put a wheelchair-high peephole in the door. For the sake of novelty, I tried it. Behold, I ended up staring at my visitor’s crotch.
Now, perhaps this is the wave of the future. Maybe the person who put the peephole in the door has a crotch-staring fetish. After all, surely the person in charge of making the hotel ADA compliant thought through what he was doing. Surely the hotel tested this arrangement. Is that too much to expect?
This makes sense, since those of us living in wheelchairs have long been into crotch-gazing. At receptions, for instance, people stand and wheelchair people stare at their midriffs or crotches all party long. We have become bulge connoisseurs in the wheelchair community. We identify people by their crotches. Alas, because I’m not as into crotches as some of my peers, I have become increasingly reluctant to go to parties where I expect people to be standing—which is every party in the New Haven social scene. It is rare that someone pulls up a chair and speaks to me on my level. Do you suppose that there is power play in towering over someone?
Those of us existing in wheelchairs are, apparently, also into masochism. When I lived in New York, sadists would flick lit cigarettes right at the level of a wheelchair-rider’s head. Though they see me, they are not even conscious that I exist.
The view from the chair—whether of crotches or in-bound cigarette butts—is a weird one. The next time someone decides to talk to me, I hope they pull up a chair and be on my level to avoid crotch-gazing and crotch-talk.
Crystal Emery is a New Haven writer, filmmaker and activist, who is also a quadriplegic.