Everybody seems to know Jimmy. And everybody seems to love Jimmy. They use words like inspiring and motivating and incredible. And they're always asking me about him, like he is some kind of world wonder.
Well, I figured it's about time to set the record straight. I Hate You Jimmy is a collection of some of the best, and worst, memories of hanging out with "that guy in the wheelchair."
Still want to find out more? Read the Introduction below, or check out the blog to see excerpts from the book!
Read the Introduction
I Hate You Jimmy consists of 50 short related stories that make it a fun and easy read.
For me, it was his hands. It’s not that I couldn’t stop looking at them . . . it was all I wanted to look at. It was the visual I let my eyes hang on as I acted like I was looking around. It was what I fixated on when he was looking away and I knew he wouldn’t catch me. It was what struck me as most abnormal . . . disfigured . . . different.
Maybe it was because they were crippled, bent at the wrist, barely moveable. Long, skinny fingers that looked like sharpened-down pencils with a matching thumb tucked underneath. Maybe it was because he was able to use that deformed body part for so many things—handling his chair’s joystick, using his phone, and, to my surprise, to sign his name or feed himself if necessary. Maybe, actually, most likely, his hands stood out to me because I had been teased for my own short, stubby fingers and I focused on his as a result of my own insecurity. In time, I would find out that this 63-pound man, who is barely four feet tall when measured in his permanent knees-bent position, has the same sized hands as me. I would also find he would mention this embarrassing fact whenever he had the chance.
Regardless of the reason, it was his hands that stuck out to me. For you, it might be his normal-sized head, which, when placed on a miniature body with arms and legs being barely anything more than bone and skin, somewhat resembles a golf ball on a tee. Or it might be the way his head nods when he is chewing, using the momentum of that heavy golf ball to help his weaker jaw. When he pulls his hands close to his chest while eating, I still sometimes think of a Tyrannosaurs Rex. Maybe it is when you see the wheelchair at the after-hours bar, or the five-star restaurant, or the professional sporting event—the hopeless and heartbroken expectation of disability is met with crisp Gucci shoes, a button-down Burberry shirt, the scent of sophistication, and a scarf meticulously wrapped around his neck, the logo positioned to make sure the world sees the little guy on the horse. Maybe Jimmy stands—err, sits—out when your bus is held up for the five-minutes it takes for the ramp to lower down, load him up, and strap him in. Or maybe it’s when he’s throwing back shots at the party, and suddenly you find an exception to the rule about never drinking and operating a motor vehicle. Maybe the disconnect comes when you see this handsome young man courtside at an NBA game chatting it up with the players, or smooching with the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model in the middle of the bar . . . settling for a prolonged kiss only because his condition does not give him the strength needed for a frencher.
Even more interesting than the way Jimmy interacts with the world is the way the world interacts with him. The waitress who asks me what Jimmy is going to have, even as he is sitting there reading the menu. Or the impatient bathroom line, making rude comments and banging on the door, until it swings open and everyone quietly adjusts their attitude as they clear a path for the wheelchair. The girl who is left speechless when this cute, innocent little man she spent the evening talking to invites her back to his apartment as the bar is closing. Or the visible shift from an expression of anger to apology after a guy’s been nailed in the back of the leg with an unknown object and turns around to find he’s been struck by muscular dystrophy. Jimmy has a special power to hit someone—and hit them hard—and have the victim say “sorry.” For what they are apologizing, I still don’t know.
Most revealing, however, is the uncontaminated reaction from children. It’s not uncommon for a child walking past Jimmy to continue moving forward while his head turns and turns and turns like an owl, perplexed and cemented on this person who is similar in size but looks so dissimilar to themselves. It is a raw look of confusion—a look that says, You are different than me. Usually this is followed by a guilt-ridden, hushed scolding from a nearby parent who’s telling the kid not to stare. I don't know if the child gets scared of how Jimmy looks, or upset that this happened to someone, or bewildered as to why it would happen. What I do know is that it is a pure reaction, one not masked or inhibited by years of trying to make sense of the world.
And, no matter if you are young or old, seeing, meeting, or interacting with Jimmy threatens to change the bubble of the world you have created for yourself.
For me, it was in a common area of our college dorm, with a group of us playing PlayStation 2. Jimmy said he would play the winner of the next game. There was an uncomfortable pause in the room, with everybody—well, every “able” body—thinking, How the hell is this kid going to do that? When the time came, he instructed me on how to set him up to play like a seasoned mechanic helping a teen put on a spare tire.
“Turn my chair off so it doesn’t move . . . swing my joystick out . . . move my hips to the left . . . head forward . . . controller in the lap . . . now put my hands [Oh, god, his hands] on top of the controller . . . put my pointer finger on the gas . . .” He looked at me and smiled. “I don’t need the brakes.”
It was not an issue to be skirted anymore. It was not a stolen glance. It wasn’t a thought of confusion or disgust or fear. It was real. I touched them. And they didn’t shatter into a million pieces like I thought they might. Though small, and skinny, and limited, they belonged to a man. A man like me.
About the Author
Eddie Doyle is not an award winning or best selling author, though he did enter a writing contest once. He did not win. An internationally unknown and locally disrespected Uber and Lyft driver, Eddie has a Youtube channel called The Driver Ed Show, where his videos get hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of views.