The Poor Montrealers

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© Frank Verpaelst 2015

The following poem was inspired by Montreal’s CRAZY plan to spend 40 million dollars on lighting up the Jacques Cartier bridge, while the rest of the city is crumbling around us.

There was a family called “The Montrealers”
Whose house was infested with creepy crawlers.
The pipes were all broken, the windows were cracked,
The roof leaked a bit, and the chimney un-stacked.
Their clothes were all tattered, the books were all battered
But they loved each other, that’s what really mattered.

Christmas was soon but the family was broke.
“What should we do first?” They all chattered and spoke.
“Fix everything up!” the oldest children said,
“We’re cold and tired. And that leak drips on our head.”
The youngest added, “We’ve been good girls and boys,
Why can’t we have some new clothes and a few toys?”

“No!” said mom and dad, “We need people to stop
And see our pretty house, to put us on top!
Decorated with lights, and a Christmas tree,
Rich people will come give us a coin or three!
With bright lights and fancy doodads, we’ll be rich!
Then we’ll fix our home nice, and clothes we will stitch.”

The children all looked at their parents sadly
And knew their mom and dad’s plan would end badly.
Rich people did come to look, that much was true.
They came and said “Wow!” and gave a coin or two.
Mostly they laughed at the family instead,
Thinking “Montrealers are crazy in the head!”

Christmas came and went, and so did their money
Not even enough for some bread and honey.
Mom and dad are long gone, sitting in a jail
Social services said, the parents did fail.
The kids are okay, sold the doodads and lights.
Without crazy parents, they’ll be alright.

Posted in Humor | 2 Comments

Stupid Things People Say to People With Disabilities

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I posted a simple question in about a dozen Facebook groups, many of them dealing with dwarfism. The question was “What are the stupidest comments you’ve ever heard about your disability?”

I was FLOODED by responses that simply stunned me by the level of ignorance, and/or sheer meanness behind it all. I keep reminding myself that intelligence varies widely from individual to individual, and no one has their IQ stamped on their forehead. But still, it is difficult not to get sarcastic or mean right back at some of the really stupid things that have been said to us.

My sarcastic replies, that I would only really say in a fantasy world where it does not matter if you hurt people’s feelings, are italicized, indented, and labeled “Frank: “.

So, without further ado, may I present some of the most patient people on earth, and the stupid things that have been said to them.


Mary: I’m a paraplegic and my “favorite” comment is, “If I was in a wheelchair then I would kill myself!” My response to that is “Why wait?”

Mark: I got a sister with a shorter leg, she finds it very difficult to walk, so people keep telling her not to do this or that or she may fall and get hurt…and she HATES it…and they also say “you got such a pretty face…”, like saying “in contrast with your ugly body”…and she hates those “compliments”.

Frank: “And you shouldn’t say things like that, or YOU might get hurt!”

John: “Have they thought about growth hormone?”   No, our doctors who are the best skeletal dysplasia specialists in the world for children NEVER THOUGHT TO TRY GROWTH HORMONE!

Frank: “Have you ever thought of MINDING YOUR OWN BUSINESS!” or, “No, but they did suggest THE RACK!”

Liz: Hands down my favorite one ever was: “Well, he will always be able to find work during the holidays – Santa needs an elf!”

Clara: Sister Ferdinand in First Grade, ‘You know life is going to be very very hard for you but when you die you get to go see Jesus’……yes that was very helpful Sister….

Martha: “O she’s so cute! You should put her on TV.”

Frank: “What? How am I supposed to balance my kid on top of our super thin LCD television?”

Donald: I mess with people too. One guy (he was nice enough and genuinely interested) asked why our son was wearing a neck brace. I answered “He got in a bar fight. You should see the other kid.”

June: I honestly can’t say the most offensive because it’s truly horrible. I can tell you it was regarding men and waist height.

Ralph: How long is he going to live I was like well we don’t know how long we’re are going live for it’s all up to God.

Frank: “How long is he going to live? Longer than YOU, especially if you keep asking stupid questions like that!”

Jason: On a lighter note, one of my cousin’s kids, after we found out Brody would have dwarfism asked “Are there any people who have elfism?” I found it funny.

Karla: “Hmm what will he do when he grows up? He could be an actor on television!” As though that was his only option.

Frank: “There’s this bar in our neighborhood, and they do this dwarf tossing thing every Friday night.” Then you snap a picture of their reaction, and post it here. (Pardon my dark sense of humor, I’m a dwarf, and have these fantasies of freaking people out whenever they say something REALLY silly).

Bonnie: My son Tavish, who was born with dwarfism, is a waiter in a restaurant at a ski resort. He is FREQUENTLY asked if he is the actor Peter Dinklage. Actually the usual question is, “Aren’t you that guy from Game of Thrones?” Tavish’s response is to whisper, “Shhhh! No one can know. I am researching for a role.”

Mike: “Are you sure she won’t grow out of it?”

Stephanie: When I was in my chair at the grocery store, some creepy dude asked me if he could feed me a sample of guacamole since it was up high! I said, nope, but you can get away from me now!

Armen: “Can you leave your bed?” No the giant wheels on the side of my ass don’t go anywhere. “Can you have sex?” Not with YOU!

Kate: I tell those rude people that ask bedroom questions that if the belly buttons line up everything else goes into place(with a straight face) till they walk away then me and hubby crackup.

Paul: ‘I’m going pray for god to fix, dear’.

Charlotte: People point at my child often. The most recent lady said “A real life little midget!”

Frank: “Look, a real life a-hole”.

Samantha: I received a private message once which started like this (roughly translated) “Oh my god! A dwarf? Eww…I pity your baby. He must be god’s punishment for your mistakes and sins.”

Darla: When I took my LP grandson places I had people tell me the following: “What the hell is that supposed to be?”

Darla: Also, “Oh! A dwarf! They’re so popular right now, I want one!” When a child commented, we always took time to explain to them why he was small. Never miss an opportunity to educate children. Sometimes the adults aren’t worth your time.

Frank: “Oh yes, aren’t dwarfs ADORABLE? We’re starting a collection, and we’ll call them Sleepy, Dopey, Happy, Doc…..”

Michelle: My son has Primordial dwarfism and we get a few comments most days – best one yet though, a woman turned round in a shop and exclaimed “Oh! Is it real?”

Frank: “Are YOU for real? Apologize this instant or I will wash your mouth out with soap!”

Rose: I actually had a nurse ask me why I had another child when I told her my son was born with dwarfism and that they were testing my daughter for autism. I honestly was so shocked, and kind of hurt.

Maria: I was pushing my grandson in a cart at the market, when this elderly woman starting talking with him. She asked me how old he was and I told her he was year and a half. She said that he can’t be, he is too small. I told her he was born with dwarfism. She just stared at him and then finally said I never saw a baby one. I always wondered what they look like as a baby. I started to walk away, but she grabbed hold of my basket and said please don’t go. My husband will get a kick at of this. My daughter came around the corner just in time to pull me away.

Frank: “Lady, you will get a kick in the shins if you don’t apologize this instant!”

Lola: I have a twin son that was born with no left hand & I had a coworker (a supervisor too) ask me if he was right handed!!! Wtf – like he has a choice!!

Frank: “No, he’s left stumped you genius!”

Harvey: Another thing that irks me is how you drive and are your parents short like you.

Frank: “Are your parents stupid like you?”

Denise: People have asked me “Are your parents normal?”

Frank: “I AM normal, what’s wrong with YOU?”

Martin: As a wheelchair-user, I get the same type of comments. When I come back with sarcasm (“How long you been in the chair?” “About an hour. Before that, I was on my bed getting dressed.” “Were you born in a wheelchair?” “Yeah. Poor Mom was in labor for a week. It was like trying to squeeze a football through a straw.”), I’d be accused of being “angry” and having “a chip on my shoulder.”

Paula: I am blind, and some of the things people have said we’re just outrageous. I have been asked everything from how do you walk, All the way to how do you pour a glass of water by yourself without spilling it?

I do my best to educate folks, but sometimes it is hard to refrain from slapping some of these idiots. Both of those questions were posed conveniently when I was doing the action in question. Some of the other questions I have been asked include, but are not limited to: how do you dress yourself? Do you want me to come in the bathroom stall with you to help? How can you be blind if you can open your eyes? Do blind people have sex? That one was asked by a guy that shortly after inquired whether or not I would go on a date with him.

I have also been told that if I believed in God I wouldn’t be blind, and all I need to do for a cure is to pray harder.


Closing note from Frank: If I slapped people for every stupid thing they’ve said about my disability, I’d have one more disability in my hand.

Posted in Living with a disability | 8 Comments

Chester’s Lament

I wonder sometimes why I hold on to any of my creations for so long.  I composed the following song in the late 1990’s, and there it sat on an old cassette, until I re-recorded it yesterday.  If you care to listen to it, all I ask is that you give feedback, be it good, bad or ugly.  Honest, this musician wants to know! : )

“Chester’s Lament” (C) Frank Verpaelst, 1999

Or use the following link:

Chesters Lament (Right-click and select “Save Link As” to download)

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Scaring Myself Silly

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Although I never believed in monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man, there was a time that I did believe in ghosts and a few other supernatural phenomena. I was also a huge fan of the horror genre. And even though I’m such a fan of all things creepy, I’ve never been prone to nightmares, or getting spooked in any way shape or form.

And yet, there I was one evening, in bed and reading a book by Stephen King, when I decided it was late enough, and that I needed to get some sleep. I put my book away, turned off the light, and started to gently fall asleep.  And that’s when I heard a noise that jolted me awake, which was strange, because the noise itself was not jarring, but rather very soft and subtle.

What was jolting was that the soft noise sounded like it was coming right from the floor very near to my bed. My heart was hammering like it does when you wake suddenly just as you are slipping into a deep sleep. I waited a few minutes to hear the sound again, to make sure it was not the stuff of dreams, whipped up by my evening reading.

Nope, no noises there: I cautiously began to relax, chalking up the experience to my overactive imagination. Then the noise started anew, a soft shuffling sound, as if something was dragging itself on my bedroom floor. The sound was so soft, my own hammering heartbeat almost drowned out the shuffling noise. I leaned out of bed, getting as close to the floor as I could, without actually tipping out of my bed, to get a close listen to whatever was going on. Again, silence.

So I leaned back into bed and waited, wide awake now for good, no sleepiness at all, but rather, a creeping fear that something real was happening.  Shuffle, drag, drag, shuffle went the noise again.  Now I knew the noise was real, and I was not in dreamland.

I gathered the courage to flip the light switch near the head of my bed.  The light turned on, flooding my room with brightness. But no monster awaited my seeking eyes, no serial killer sneaking up on me, no creature leaking an oozy trail behind as it crept closer to my bed.

I waited with the light turned on, as if daring the noise to start again. I must have waited ten minutes, thinking that I really let the horror novel I was reading get to me.  Chiding myself, I eventually turned off the light.

And again, the shuffle, drag, drag, shuffle noise returned.

I did not hesitate this time, and snapped on the light just as the noise started. AGAIN, there was nothing but a floor, furniture, and a foolish feeling me in the room. This pattern repeated two or three more times, my nerves winding tighter and tighter all the while, and never once did I catch a glimpse of what was making the noise.

Feeling like I’d just had ten espresso coffees, I decided to wait as long as it took for the noise to occur, with the light on, so I could see at long last, what demon it belonged to. Some thirty minutes later, finally, I heard the noise again: Shuffle, drag, drag, shuffle.

In the darkness the noise always sounded like it was coming from the floor.  Now, in the bright light, the noise was clearly coming from my bedroom window.  Somehow, that did not make me feel any better, or slow my heartbeat down at all.

I anxiously approached the window, waiting for the sound to start again. Finally: Shuffle, drag, drag, and I quickly opened the blinds to see who or what had been tormenting my fevered imagination for the past hour and a half.

Just below my bedroom window, was a chord of wood my father kept near the house.  On top of that chord of wood sat a large sheet of plastic to keep it dry.  One of the four logs that kept the sheet of plastic pinned down had fallen, and every time the wind blew, the loose sheet of plastic made the shuffle, drag, drag, shuffle noise against the brick wall of our house.

No zombie, no ghost, no serial killer or other monster had been making the noise that had jump started my imagination and heartbeat into overdrive.  It was just a stupid piece of plastic sheeting, blowing in the wind. Talk about feeling silly!

Now that I had confirmed that the world had not suddenly turned into some horror novel, I closed the blinds, climbed back into bed, and went back to reading my Stephen King novel.  After all, I had calm myself down, before turning off the light one more time, and drifting off into a deep slumber once and for all that evening.

Although I still enjoy a good scary book or movie now and again, I no longer believe in ghosts or anything supernatural.  If such things existed, I’m sure we would have much more proof by now.

At least, that’s what I tell myself anytime I hear strange noises in the dead of night.

Posted in Miscellaneous | Leave a comment

Wimpy Whiney “Men”

If there’s something I really dislike, it is men who don’t lift a finger when it comes to doing their fair share of household work. Even worse, I personally know some men, who have the gall, the audacity, to complain that the house is not “clean enough”. How about getting off your lazy ass you rotten “man” and help?

As if this attitude is not bad enough, I also know way too many men who whine about their partner’s libido. Really? Tell me, how sexy would YOU feel, after working twelve hours as a daycare worker, chef, butler, cleaning crew, stay at home “do it all by yourself” parent? Or even tougher, a working mother, who then has to do it all by herself in the evening while your lazy man barks orders. Feeling sexy yet? Didn’t think so!

In what world is it fair for one partner to work only eight hours a day, while the other partner at home has to work almost twelve to sixteen hours a day? In North America, slavery was abolished a long time ago, and far too many men still need to wake up and smell the coffee they should be making themselves. (And cleaning up their own dishes you effing lazy child-men).

I grew up in an old fashioned Catholic household, where my mother stayed at home, and my dad worked like a dog at his job, averaging sixty hours a week. On top of that, my dad fixed everything in our home, did all the renovations, and most of the yard work. However, my dad was a special man, and still put in his time with household chores. Basically, if my mom was too busy to sit and relax, so was my father. The two of them were inseparable, and quite possibly, the most romantic couple I’ve ever known.

With my disability, to be brutally honest, I can’t do as much as a big strapping healthy man can do. In fact, I’m so acutely aware of it, I struggle with sadness as I watch Bonnie every day, carrying the larger share of physical work. But each day, I do what I can: Some cooking, some cleaning, and mostly, entertaining our daughter to keep her out of Bonnie’s very busy schedule.

Now, I’m far from perfect, but you’ll never hear me complain about the state of cleanliness of our home, or whine that our libidos are not libido-ing. I care much more about the state of physical and mental health of my dear sweet wife Bonnie.  What she needs is all the help I can give, and a nice massage, NOT me whining.

So to those men sitting on their chairs, whining at their wives about how the house is not clean enough, or how they’ve gone so many days without nookie-nookie, I say this: You have no clue! It’s not about being a “real man” but being a decent human being. Shut the bleep up and do the right thing, by helping your partner step for step, each and every day.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Huggable Wall

Original Post Date: 8/31/2014  2:41:05 PM

If ever there was a wall you just HAD to hug, we found one at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

After we had viewed the entire Fabergé collection, we were meandering our way back to the main entrance, when we encountered what turned out to be the biggest hit of the day:  A gigantic wall just overstuffed with stuffed animals!

Naturally, NO ONE was paying attention to the sign that said “Please stay behind the red line”.

Who could resist such an assault of absolute CUTENESS, or resist taking some stuffy selfies? And of course, our daughter Annika was the only one who got caught and reprimanded by the security guard, for daring to cross over, and touching those adorable bundles of soft furry happiness.

Mean old security guard, why don’t you go and sit on a Fabergé egg until it hatches?

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Posted in Humor | 3 Comments

In Defense of Children

When an adult uses their size and speed to their advantage to physically “tease” a young child, when an adult ignores a child’s request to STOP tickling them, those actions are actually an abuse of power, and clearly an act of dominance.

Even if a child SEEMS to be having fun, ignoring their limits sets a dangerous pattern that their personal space, more bluntly, THEIR BODIES, can be dominated without consequence, just because they are young and defenseless.

To be perfectly clear about my message on the topics of teasing and physical dominance: “NO!” means “NO!”, and “STOP!” means “STOP!” under ALL CIRCUMSTANCES, and no matter the age difference between people!

I’ve personally witnessed adults going past the point where the child is no longer having fun, and hardly anyone ever gives a crap, or speaks up in defense of the child. Here are just a few examples of what I’m talking about:

  • An adult holding a balloon above the child’s head, pulling it just out of their reach, over and over again, until the child gets frustrated, or even starts to cry.
  • An adult playing tickle games with a child, and constantly ignoring their pleas to stop tickling them when they have reached their limit.
  • Touching a child’s t-shirt, declaring “What’s that?” and then flipping their lip or poking their face just as the child looks down.
  • Picking up a child, and turning them upside down, until they yell “Stop that!”, but the adult keeps holding the child in that helpless position.

All of the above makes me livid, and wanting to mock these bullying adults by saying to them “Bravo Mr. (or Mrs.) Adult, you have proven your cleverness merely by using your superior strength and speed to tease a young child.”

I don’t believe in violence, but more than once I’ve actually said “Pick on someone your own size. Even better, try that crap on me, and see how fast my cane whaps you upside your head!”  Luckily, the adults I’ve had to teach in this manner have always corrected their behavior after my verbal warning, at least while I’m around.

Before anyone accuses me overreacting, that it’s just normal teasing, and that a child should be able to put up with that sort of “play”, let me ask you a question: Would any of those scenarios above be considered okay, if two adults were doing the same things to each other?

Imagine even further if by some miracle, that children under the age of eight could turn the tables on these same teasers, and pick up adults, turn them upside down, and shake them about? How acceptable would that super strong child’s behavior be considered? Not so fun now, at least not for the adult being treated like a ragdoll!

Bullying as a whole will never be clearly understood, and NEVER be reduced, until we adults recognize who exactly is teaching our children to become bullies. The only way society can stop bullying is if we all recognize these patterns of teasing, and start respecting children’s personal space, and their limits.

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Posted in Bullying | 4 Comments

Allergy Warning: Contains Stupidity

Original Post Date: 2/24/2014  1:19:19 PM

After finishing a bag of pistachios recently, we flipped the bag over, always in search of bad translations and other such silliness. What my wife and I found was beyond stupid. After the the list of ingredients, which was basically, PISTACHIOS, there was an additional note.

Allergy warning: Contains pistachio nuts.

Contains Pistachios: Duh. REALLY?

Contains Pistachios: Duh. REALLY?

I can certainly understand the need for such warnings when one would not expect to find a PISTACHIO. For instance, a factory that packages candy, or other nuts, that also packages PISTACHIOS.  In that case, one would want to know that there might accidentally be a PISTACHIO where there should not be one.

I also totally understand that nut allergies can be very serious. But still, on a package that is clearly labeled PISTACHIOS, and an ingredient list on the back of the package that states clearly there are PISTACHIOS in this here bag of PISTACHIOS, what is a sane and intelligent person to think? That this bag of PISTACHIOS is NOT filled with PISTACHIOS, but instead is full of sugar and spice, and everything nice?

Furthermore, this bag was made of clear plastic, so, in addition to triple PISTACHIO indicators (Label, ingredients, and allergy warning), one can absolutely see there are clearly no bananas or candies here today, just PISTACHIOS.

Lastly, and for the sake of argument, what if you do really have a serious PISTACHIO allergy, and have ignored all these indicators, in addition to the ultimate warning, that your hand has reached in, and grabbed, and then shelled these tasty tidbits of terror? If you are that kind of person, do you really think another printed warning will save you from yourself?  I seriously doubt it.

I realize the warning is there due to labeling laws, as laid out by  the FDA (in the USA), and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (in Canada).  But these are the same government operated numb nuts (Warning: Some nuts contain A-HOLES!), who continue to allow big powerful corporations to sell poisonous and addictive tobacco.

It just goes to show how upside down the world is: Clearly, the government is more afraid of being sued by people who need to be warned that there are PISTACHIOS in a bag of PISTACHIOS, than they are afraid of being sued by cancer-ridden smokers.

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Posted in Humor | 3 Comments

Summertime and Ice Cream Trucks

Original Post Date: 7/8/2014  1:57:12 PM

Palagi Ice Cream Truck

Palagi Ice Cream Truck

Nothing says summer to me more than an old fashioned ice cream truck. Where I grew up in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, that ice cream truck was owned and operated by the Palagi Brothers, and it would tour our neighborhood just after suppertime.

As we watched television in our living room, we could hear the clanging of the bell getting louder, the sound floating far and wide on the hot humid air. When the bright yellow and red truck got closer and closer to our home, that ringing bell would get drowned out by my excited screaming: “Daddy, daddy, it’s the ice cream man!”

My father and I would then head outside just as the truck pulled up to our front yard, and we would step up onto the running board, and place our order at the open passenger window.  Strange as it may seem for an eight year old kid, I almost never had ice cream because it always left me feeling thirsty afterwards.

Instead I usually opted for Palagi’s much more refreshing “frozen lemonade”, just the perfect balance of sweet-tart icy cold goodness. We would then return to the living room with tasty treats in hand, to spend more family time in front of the television.

I would first slowly suck out the chilled lemonade, leaving behind mostly slushy ice. Then, I would let the slush melt a bit, creating a barely flavored but very frosty and thirst quenching combination. Finally, I would finish off the last few gulps by siphoning off every bit of liquid, the slush now leaning on and freezing my lips as I tilted my cup.

With the very last bit of liquid thus drained, I would take the last few bites of liquid free slush and compress it between my back teeth until the slush became a hard layer of ice. Then I would happily crunch away on it.

Where we live now, there is no such thing as an ice cream truck. So imagine my surprise one summer a few years ago, while at a local park with my wife and three year old daughter, we heard the familiar clang-clang-clang of an old fashioned bell. My heart skipped a beat or two at the thought of introducing an old family tradition to my sweet little girl, as my eyes scanned around.

A white van was cruising ever so slowly down the street, it’s little bell ringing like I remembered from the days of yore. As the van pulled closer and closer I could hardly contain my excitement.  My  happy mood suddenly turned to extreme confusion and then disappointment.

It turned out the van was not selling ice cream, but instead, sharpening services. I wondered to myself “Who the hell drives around the neighborhood offering knife sharpening services?”

As the van pulled away, my mind continued with the absurdities of life as I thought to myself, “Get your ice cold metal shavings here! Special today: Sharpen two knives and one lawnmower, and get one metal slushy free!”

I think I’ll just buy a hand cranked ice shaver to ensure one summertime family tradition lives on. That way, I can enjoy some homemade snow cones, and watch my daughter enjoy hers, just like my dad used to watch me.

And I can’t help but wonder, if I ever see that traveling knife sharpening van again: Maybe they can sharpen the blades of our ice shaver?

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Posted in Humor, Miscellaneous, My Father | 1 Comment

Body Image

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I am not the kind of person to take selfies, or post vanity pictures of myself. I will make an exception today, for all the wonderful people I’ve met in the many disability related Facebook groups I’ve joined. I struggle … Continue reading

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