LONG ISLAND, New York — In the weeks following Halloween, children everywhere are reviewing their treat hauls. The smell of sugar drifts from their lunchboxes as they arrange elaborate candy swaps, but one young wheelchair user can’t ignore the stench of suburban ableism wafting through the air … because, well, let’s say SOME PEOPLE got much better loot than others. From his compulsory spot at the lone wheelchair-accessible cafeteria table, which doubles as a detention island, Bobby O’ Rourke, 12, shared his harrowing ordeal.
“Trick-or-treating 2023 started off rough,” said O’ Rourke, who was forced to be pushed through the neighborhood streets by his elderly grandmother after design flaws in his adaptive firetruck costume from a big box retailer left him unable to self-propel. “Things only got spookier as the night went on.”
Despite the best efforts of O’ Rourke and his grandma, Betty Shea, the duo found just one home in town with a candy bowl placed in a wheelchair-accessible location, while dozens of others required a treacherous ascent onto brick porches. Grandma Betty, 75, who boasts a deteriorating hip and knee, is no more successful on the stairs than her grandson. An exasperated O’Rourke clarified, “Grandma’s stubborn refusal to have her joints replaced has left us reliant on able do-gooders to reach most of the bowls, and frankly, there aren’t many of them.”
When they arrived at the sole house with accessible treat potential, O’ Rourke and his grandma couldn’t have anticipated the horrors awaiting them at the top of the modest modular ramp. When he peered into the bowl, he was dismayed to discover … toothbrushes.
“Worst case scenario!” exclaimed O’Rourke. “Like, not even one of those shitty hard candies shaped exactly like my trachea. A. Toothbrush.” Glancing around sadly, he added, “Other than a few pity Butterfingers that my next-door neighbor forced her daughter to give me, I don’t have much to show off in the cafeteria. A toothbrush isn’t garnering much interest.”
To add insult to injury, O’Rourke is too weak to use a basic CVS toothbrush, rendering his “prize” totally useless. “If you’re going to be that guy,” sighed O’ Rourke, “at least give out Sonicare.”
When interviewed about her treat transgression, the toothbrush giver, Cindy Roberts, 55, was unsympathetic to O’Rourke’s plight. “He should really skip the candy anyway. Kids like him have so much wrong with their little bodies that his teeth may be the only thing intact.” She went on, “There’s such a long wait at the Medicaid clinics for those people that protecting him from tooth decay is the Christian thing to do. Besides, I don’t want my tax dollars paying for his cavities anyway. Aren’t there charities for that?”