I had a dream last night, one of the best dreams I’ve ever had. I dreamt that tens of thousands of wheelchair users from all across America — otherwise known as Wheelchair Nation — gathered at a remote locale and just fooled around for a few days, reveling in the glory of their own existence. The setting is Lebanon, Kan., the exact geographic center of the United States. Equidistant from everywhere, in the middle of Kansas, flat as a pancake and easy to maneuver, the place is small enough that we can take over the whole town. The local economy, hit hard by the decline in family farming, would find it an economic gold mine, the townspeople proudly erecting a big sign on the edge of town announcing: “Home of the Annual Wheelchair Nation Tribal Conclave!”
There are many existing models for this mass gathering of wheelchairs and their owners. In my dream, I envisioned it as a kind of a Burning Man for gimps. If you are not familiar with this cultural lightning rod, Burning Man is an annual gathering of free spirits and slackers who didn’t get the memo that the ’60s were over and tie-dye T-shirts and patchouli oil were no longer in fashion. Fifty thousand-plus people go to this massive be-in in the desert of northern Nevada every year and do whatever they darn please. They call it “radical self-expression.” People show up to make 50-foot plaster of Paris naked women, drive weird cars that glow in the dark, roll in the mud, and dance like dervishes around open fire pits. It’s Woodstock with outrageous art.
There’s also the legendary Sturgis, S.D., Motorcycle Rally where upwards of a half-million Harley riders gather to cruise up and down the main drag, showing off their ape-