When Jenny Skollsar invited her cousin Matt Karmuss up to her lake house for the holiday weekend, she assumed he understood that the invitation was just for him. After all, she really enjoyed texting with him, and they had gotten along fine at their aunt’s funeral. To her utter dismay, Karmuss showed up with craft beer … and cerebral palsy.
“I mean, disabilities are fine — there is absolutely nothing wrong with disabilities,” she hurried to explain to him as he unpacked his car. “It’s just that, you know, it’d be nice if we didn’t have to bother with all of that extra stuff on a holiday. It kind of puts a damper on the celebrations.”
“I put a damper on the celebrations?” Karmuss queried, confused.
“Oh, no, not you!” Skollsar explained. “We are so happy to have YOU! It’s just all of that … baggage … that you come with.”
By baggage, Skollsar was not referring to the duffel bag Karmuss toted inside. She meant his wheelchair, which she worried would leave marks around the house. She disliked him wearing his shoes in the house despite the fact that his feet did not actually touch the new floors, which were made of reclaimed beaver lodge logs. She also worried about explaining Karmuss’s “differences” to the children and decided it would probably be easier for him to stay at the house than to come with them to the local parade, since the neighbors might ask questions.
“I don’t even ask for anything big,” Karmuss told our reporter. “But when I asked where I could put my service dog’s water bowl, she asked if he drank normal water. And overall she just didn’t seem that comfortable with a disabled person.”
The other guests at the house hastened to chime in, saying things like, “I love Matt! I just don’t love his disability.”
Another person, fresh from their company’s diversity training, ablesplained, “You know, Matt, you shouldn’t put yourself down like that. You’re not a disabled person, you’re a PERSON who HAPPENS TO HAVE a disability.”
Karmuss, however, stood his ground (theoretically of course) and managed to convince the group that his disability was not all bad. What really brought them around was when he explained that it would get them all to the front of the line at the local carnival.
“Oh, so your wheelchair does serve a purpose after all!” exclaimed Skollsar.