December 11, 2012
On the perils of accepting charity
I am in a frumious mood. My own fault. I went to a charity MS event today. Not a fundraiser - a "social" event. One of the Anglican churches here has been holding lunches for people with MS for the past 40 years - an astonishing and kind commitment but ever so slightly weird.
Why? Because they don't speak to any of the attendees and in fact treat us all as if we are mentally feeble. I had one man practically walk with me to the washroom to ensure I could understand the Men and Women signs appropriately. Argh.
A church pianist sort played hearty Christmas music on the piano to add context but she played too loudly for anyone to speak with each other, especially MSers with weak voices, sort of like you'd do at a senior's luncheon where everyone is senile or very hard of hearing and sits quietly and drools through the concert. She did a good job but had a different songbook than any of us so we always ended the carols in different places.
They kindly made food suitable for people without teeth and brought around broken up bits of fruitcake that were passed to us in crumbly small amounts. And they poured us 1/2 cups of coffee so we wouldn't run the risk of spilling it or burning ourselves.
Santa came, and with him a man dressed as an elf, who gave a 15 minute long speech, crying all the way through, about how he loved wearing the elf suit for Christmas Daddies and etc and how "all your happy faces" made it worthwhile. The happy faces got rather stiff during his emotional session, which I guess he does whenever he wears "the suit". He does make a good elf, if a somewhat bipolar one.
We'd taken a ride from friends so we were hopelessly trapped there for the entire event.
There WAS a wonderful man with a fantastic voice who ensured everyone sang Christmas Carols, so that was fun. I suspect he is the parishioner who pushes this thing - they said at the beginning that the usual people didn't want to host it so the men's club did.
And so all the men stood together over in the corner staring at us while the women toiled in the kitchen, as usual with church things...And everybody brought $5 gifts to share. I was hoping for chocolate but instead got a shiny necklace and two hand towels in pink that said "Love always persists". With bunnies and carrots embroidered on them (not by hand).
All in all it made me CRINGE with horror at the thought of being in a senior's home where I would be pushed out to one of these festive events in a wheelchair and forced to endure and smile through all of this SHIT every few days until Christmas. I swear to god I am taking myself out before that happens, or I'll have to check in with a weapon. Or a few.
God, I pity the poor. It occurred to me that this is what usually happens at charity dinners, where all the good folk, hardworking and with their hearts firmly in the right place, cook food and serve it while watching the poor/old/feeble/sick and hoping they are appropriately grateful. Egad. And for the first time I saw the hell that ongoing disability could be - endlessly going to these things for a "day out" until I perish in the attempt to gulp back another shortbread cookie made with rancid butter. I'd rather get a cash gift and spend it on liquor and sin, with no one watching to see if I choked.
I really don't think I have the intestinal fortitude to be a charity case. How DO they do it?
Exhausted from trying to be nice and failing miserably.