So, eventually, I’m going to create a mini-series (as in a series of mini books) called Cripple 101, which is all about this college professor who is sort of what you would get if you mixed House, Grunkle Stan, and Ryder, only with a much bigger heart. (That’s not to say he’s a good guy; he does some pretty crappy things throughout the series.) Basically, he’s the type of guy who will go to the ends of the earth to help you if he likes you and will make your life a living hell if he doesn’t. At the risk of getting fired, he convinces the college to let him start a class for people with disabilities. (He uses a cane to walk and has a few other disabilities I know, I know, just hear me out.)
I literally have no clue what I’m going to call this guy. None whatsoever. I’ve tried multiple names but none of them seem right. It’s extremely frustrating.
But while I have absolutely no knowledge on his name, I do have knowledge (extensive knowledge) on one of the subplots:
Watermelon is going to be…that college student. You know that college student. I know that college student. I’m friends with that college student (several of them). Hell, at times, I am that college student.
The one who wears the name SJW with pride. Who is always advocating for something. Who is always changing their identities and defending them while also defending the ones that they aren’t a part of.
That college student.
I suppose you could call her a Manic Pixie Dream Girl but quite frankly, I don’t care if you do, because that trope is sexist in and of itself.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
So Watermelon comes up to MC and begins giving him the spiel, you know? How she’s not disabled but that he should stop using the word ‘crippled’ because it’s considered a demeaning slur.
And he just stares at her like, “Oh my god, I’m going to hate you.”
In fact, he probably says that.
And when he asks her what her name is, she says: “Watermelon Tourmaline.”
And he’s just like, “That’s not a name.”
“Yes, it is.”
“It really isn’t.”
So at first, it looks like this girl is going to be an annoying parody and that I’m going to be a jerk who tries to mock these types of college students, right?
Well, stick with me, because those of you who know me know me well enough to know that I have big plans for this.
Fast-forward to a few days later when MC is sitting with Jack in the dining hall. Who’s Jack? Well, I’ll tell you tomorrow but let’s just say that the relationship between this nameless character and Jack is one of my favorite ones in the series so far. (Note: I only thought of this series two days ago.) And MC notices that the pea soup is just frozen peas dumped into lukewarm soup broth. Jack sort of dismisses it and implies that he’s already gotten used to the food, something that shocks the MC. And the more the MC asks around, the more he realizes that everyone is just eating this disgusting food and accepting the fact that if they get sick, they get sick. A few things happen in said dining hall but MC quickly becomes distracted by a voice.
It’s Watermelon, who is talking to the manager of the dining hall, complaining about the shoddy food. MC’s jaw drops and he looks on, first shocked, then impressed, then proud. And he walks over and helps her defend her case.
It looks like there’s a mutual sense of respect until they leave the dining hall (which is still serving the horrid food) and he asks her what her name is.
She sighs and mutters, “Sabrina Knox.”
The two get into an argument over identities and she storms off.
And he watches her leave and something dawns on him.
Cut to him teaching his first class where all of the students are highly engrossed, but he can’t help feeling like someone is missing. And as he’s walking across campus, he finds Sabrina/Watermelon at a table, trying to get people to sign a petition to increase the food quality. Only nobody’s stopping and everyone’s just sort of snorting and rolling their eyes. And she’s about to pack up when MC sharply says, “Don’t.”
And he limps over and is like, “Don’t stop fighting, all right? Look, I don’t care if you’re the only voice out there. It’s better than having no voice at all. The soup is crap. It’s about time someone pointed it out.”
And he signs the petition and adds, “See you in class, Watermelon.”
He walks away and Jack wheels up to him, wondering why he’s letting her join the class after all.
“Because,” says MC, “she’s one of us.”
“You mean because she’s crazy?”
MC chuckles and says, “No, she’s depressed.”
Jack just stares at him and is like, “She’s what?”
And MC goes into this long rant akin to, “She’s latching onto something, anything, that gives her a purpose, that gives her a reason to wake up in the morning. She needs something to fight for, she needs to know that something needs her to fight for it, she needs to know that she can make a difference, that she can change something or someone for the better, even if she can’t change herself. Otherwise, what’s the point?”
And Jack’s just staring at MC, who cheerfully says, “Plus, she wears glasses, so that’s good enough for me.”
And after that, he genuinely grows to care for Watermelon, referring to her by her strange but meaningful name, always helping her (if not exasperatedly) when she wants to fight for something, and being there on the days when she doesn’t think that anything is worth fighting for.
Bonus: One of those days occurs and she comes to the conclusion that fighting for better food is a lost cause. A few days later, a bunch of people get sick right in the dining hall. MC and Watermelon show up and the former just grins and looks down at this student because he knows that it’s her time to shine. So he offers her a hand and helps her up onto a table, watching in pride as she rallies students up and shouts that they deserve better than this.
And this is just one of his students.
This entire series starts with a guy who creates a class partially to keep his job and partially to spite the administration but quickly realizes, “Aw crap, I love every single one of these kids. I did not sign up for this.”
So my sister Megan pulls up in her car, I open the passenger side door to get in because we’re about to get some last minute things for this weekend. She starts moving stuff out of the front seat, the usual water bottles and purse and paper stuffs. In the middle of her twisting to throw something in the back seat, she suddenly pulls back and yells while glancing behind her, “AAH!! What is that?! I think there’s a spider!” Which is one of the many times we’ve said that this week now that every spider in the universe has decided to crawl from the shadows and party in our respective city.
I’m just like “Hold on, I’ll get it,” because I’m not all that fazed by spiders. I walk around to the back of the car on her side and open the door to see a spider the size of like…half a chicken nugget chilling out on the back of the seat. It didn’t even freak out or try to run. Because, again, the hallowed season of arachnids is upon us, and it’s on vacation.
I see an empty shoe box and immediately grab it and scoop at the spider. Meg is halfway out of the car to help, but with one fell swoop, the spider is now being relocated from its luxury suite to the asphalt. Megan is mid sentence with a “here’s a napkin– oh” when it hits the ground and scurries away.
All is well, until the car starts rolling away from us. Us. As in, I am standing beside the car, both feet on the road. Meg is standing beside the car, both feet on the road. The spider is outside the car, all eight feet on the road. There is no one else in our party and Megan’s Elantra is now rolling away with both left doors wide open, and no passengers.
All I could say was, “Megan…Megan!!” Megan only remembers screaming as she chased after her idly-speeding car, eventually launching herself inside to put it in park finally.
Flying on his own was slightly more
terrifying than doing it with Urtica, only because Urtica had been little use
in navigating the airport. Coffea was too excited to get worried about it,
though. He had a small travel bag and Rhody had made sure to book a hotel
nearby. It was terrifying to be in a city the size of LA, but he trusted that
he wasn’t going to be allowed to get lost.
He saw her waiting for him, lounging around
with model-like grace. Her eyes lit up and she waved excitedly.
“COFFEA!! Oh my Goddex, Coff!” She rushed
up to him and enveloped him into a hug, giving him a kiss on his cheek.
“Lani!” he grinned. “Christus, it’s been fucking long, eh?”
She pulled away. “You look – huh, you got muscles. The cameras don’t do you
“Did you expect me to be that weedy kid
“You literally got into fights every week,
Coff, I would not call you weedy.”
I was going to tell you about Jack tomorrow but I’m too excited.
So let me tell you about Jack!
Jackson “Jack” Nakajima.
Jack’s a freshman in an electric wheelchair with very limited mobility. He also has a slight learning disability. And he’s awesome. I love him.
So he first meets up with the main character (who I still. don’t. have. a. name. for.) early on in the first book and is really excited to help him start Cripple 101 because he’s never had anyone actually openly talk about disabilities before. So being the giant adorable nerd that he is, he’s the one who actually organizes the fundamentals of the class for MC. And it’s not long before they strike up a bond.
Also MC absolutely stands on the back of Jack’s chair and Jack gives him a lift around the campus just because.
Since Jack has a very limited mobility, his mother has moved onto the campus with him to try to help him at every possible moment. The problem is that his mother is extremely sick and he’s more worried about her being okay than he is about himself.
So the bond between him and MC grows and Jack trusts MC enough to call him when the pressure becomes too much and he wheels down to a bar, getting completely and utterly drunk. He was going to call his mother but he’d rather die than disappoint her.
So it’s 2:00 AM and MC facepalms but he gets up and gets dressed and gets into the car and drives all the way down to the bar in question. And he walks in and the bartender tells him that Jack started a tab. And MC facepalms again and pays for the drinks and talks to a very drunk Jack. And they manage to get out to the parking lot and MC just freezes and facepalms a third time because there’s no way that he can get the electric wheelchair into his car.
Cut to the two of them having to walk all the way to MC’s house. ANd MC is exasperated af because Jack is drunk and his chair is swerving and MC is just like, “Don’t-no-stop-will you-oh my god-seriously-okay the next time you serve into the road, I’m letting the car hit you-god damn it-seriously kid-I hate this-I hate you-I hate everything about my life right now-will you stop going into the road!?”
So they finally get back to MC’s house because there’s no way that Jack was going back to his dorm with his mother there. So MC lets him crash on the couch. And Jack wakes up and throws up all over the living room and MC’s forehead is red from the amount of times that he’s facepalmed. So Jack heads into the bathroom and he’s actually pretty independent and is even able to take a shower on his own (since MC uses a shower chair).
By the time he comes out, the mess is cleaned up, but he’s still feeling terrible. The feeling only increases when his mother calls, frantic.
And Jack lies and says, “Oh, umm…I’ve been up all night working on my essay on the American Revolution.”
And MC is waving his arms before he, once again, facepalms. Jack hangs up and MC snaps, “Well, great. Now we have to write an essay on the goddamn American Revolution. We’re eating breakfast first.”
One pile of pancakes and a written report on the Battle of Lexington and Concord later, the two head over to the campus and MC gets in trouble with the administration because his car was at a bar all night and he smells like booze and vomit.
But regardless of the fact that his head permanently hurts from the amount of times he’s facepalmed, MC grows to care even more about Jack and their relationship only strengthens as time goes on, until MC is his surrogate father figure, eventually asking Jack if he wants to sleep on his couch for the remainder of the semester, giving his mother the much-needed break.
Again, I went on a ramble, but look! It’s after midnight which means I technically did wait until ‘tomorrow’ to talk about him.
Coffea had woken up to the text, all in
capitals, and blinked down at his phone in confusion. It took him an
embarrassingly long time to get his brain in gear, and when he realised who it
was he broke out into a disbelieving grin. He replied instantly, also in capitals,
and hopped out of bed. He grabbed the first clothes he found and hurried down
to the shower. Rhody did a double take when he saw him, and glanced at the
“I’m going to visit a friend!” Coffea
shouted from the bathroom. He poked his head out of the door. “Could you book
me a flight to LA?”
Rhody opened and closed his mouth a couple
of times, but eventually realised that it was Coffea, and there was no point in asking. “Sure,” he sighed. “There
will be a layover somewhere, though.”
“That’s fine!” Coffea shouted back, quickly
hopping into the shower.