Jewish World Review Dec. 1, 2010 24 Kislev, 5771
I'm now Biracial
By Roger Simon
Q: Where have you been for the last few weeks? Journalists no longer get vacations.
A: We do get work release. And after five years, we don't even have to wear an ankle bracelet.
Q: There seems to be something different about you.
A: I have legs now.
Q: They grew back! I told you honey and whiskey would work!
A: They didn't grow back. And honey and whiskey is for sore throats, not amputations. I have been at Prosthetic and Orthotic Associates in Orlando, Fla., getting prosthetic legs. And now I not only can walk, but I am about 6-feet, 1-and-a-half, or about two inches taller than I was.
Q: And how has that changed you?
A: All my pants are too short, and I am looking forward to going one-on-one with Celtics legend Bob Cousy.
Q: Bob Cousy is 82!
A: It should be fair then. But that's not the most important change in my body: I am now biracial below the waist.
Q: I think that's way too much information.
A: My right leg is white, and my left leg is black. I wear them as a symbol of the new biracial harmony in President Obama's America.
Q: What new biracial harmony?
A: Good question. But as Mahatma Gandhi once said — and he may have been quoting Al Gore — "You must be the change you want to see in the world."
Q: Are you making this up?
A: No. My left leg is this wicked-cool matte-black carbon fiber. And my right leg is currently covered in a white sock, but I could remove it to reveal a stainless steel pylon.
Q: So you are "Spiderman 3" on the left side and a "Transformer" on the right?
A: Exactly. And the possibility of a Roger Simon action figure has occurred to me.
Q: So what can you do with your new legs?
Q: That's it? You can't fly or knock down buildings or battle super-villains?
A: I tried walking backward the other day.
Q: Why did you want to walk backward?
A: I didn't particularly; I am just trying new stuff. Like walking on a treadmill. I did that recently.
Q: For how long?
A: About three minutes.
Q: And you're proud of that?
A: I am proud of anything that doesn't involve me falling down.
Q: Big whoop. Iron Man competitions, here you come.
A: Actually, I met people in Orlando with prosthetic legs who do both regular triathlons and Iron Man triathlons all the time. They have special legs for swimming, for biking and for running. The running legs are the coolest. They look like the letter "C" with the knee on top and the ground on the bottom. They return a lot of energy to the body with each stride.
Q: And what special stuff do your legs do?
A: I find them excellent for getting me as far as the refrigerator and the bathroom. And as the weather gets better, I look forward to walking out on the deck to barbecue.
Q: Sounds grueling.
A: One day at a time. Actually, studies have found that bilateral bk's like me — people who have lost both legs below the knee — expend 300 percent more energy walking than fleshy people do.
Q: Fleshy people?
A: We have to call you something.
Q: So you are happy with your progress?
A: When I interviewed President Obama in the Oval Office in June, I was in a wheelchair and without legs. And I told him my goal was to dance at the White House Holiday Party in December.
Q: That was very brave of you.
A: Not really. There is no dancing at the White House Holiday Party.
Q: Can I ask you something personal? You smell different. All sort of fresh and powdery.
A: Oh, that's the baby ointment that I have to rub on my stumps before I put my prosthetic legs on. It smells like parents want their babies' bottoms to smell instead of how they really smell. Now, can I ask you a question? How do you know what I smell like?
Q: Oh, there's an app for that.
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© 2009, Creators Syndicate