Illustration by Doug Davis

When I first heard that there were people out there who pretended to be wheelchair users (called pretenders) and even worse, people who wanted to injure themselves to become actual wheelchair users (called wannabes), I was steamed. I mean, who would want to do such a thing? Their very existence seemed to mock my very existence, like black-faced white people in minstrel shows used to mock black people. Plus, these crippled con artists are probably stealing precious disabled parking spots all over America.

Then I calmed down, got off my paralytic high horse, and tried to see this taboo weirdness from another point of view. Let’s face it: pretending to be something you aren’t is pretty endemic in America. Pamela Anderson pretends to be an actress. Donald Trump pretends to run for President. One of this country’s most hallowed literary characters,