Mike ErvinThe search for validation is a common quest for verts (that’s what I call people who can walk, because it’s short for vertical). But for crippled people, that common quest is twisted into a search for invalidation. This seems to be especially true for people who are both crippled and broke ass, because there are some programs for which being merely crippled isn’t enough to qualify.

That’s how it is if you want to sign up for something like SSI or Medicaid or public housing. You have to go down to an office with your doctor’s note certifying that you are crippled and you also have to turn your pockets inside out and sign a bunch of papers swearing under penalty of perjury that you are indeed as broke ass as you attest to be. Then they stamp the word INVALID on your forehead, so to speak, and you’re good to go.

Ah, but the stamp isn’t permanent. It fades over time, so you’ll have to go get re-invalidated again sooner or later. That means you have to make sure you stay broke ass.

Becoming invalidated is a broke ass cripple rite of passage. This may even be what you have to do if you need the state to pay for the people you hire to come into your home and help you get in and out of bed every day. In a lot of states, to qualify for such pampering you must be “Medicaid eligible,” which is the official government term for broke ass. But in this case, you usually don’t have to go to an office to get invalidated. A social worker will come invalidate you in the comfort and convenience of your own home. There’s probably even a contact-free method of invalidation, executed completely online.

Invalid. Don’t you just love that word? It’s so versatile. It’s an adjective that means not valid, according to Merriam-Webster. But all you have to do is subtly shift the accent from the second syllable to the first and this nifty little word is magically transformed into a noun that means a crippled person. But I think the definition needs to be updated to mean a person who is not just crippled but very, very broke ass as well.

If you’re crippled but not yet sufficiently broke ass, you will have to liquidate your way into invalidation. And that’s like being a contestant on a perverse, reverse game show.

On a regular game show, the prize is riches. But on the twisted game show Liquidation, the prize is rags. You’re the contestant. How much money do you have? Too much? Well, then the unctuous host takes away your surplus cash and stuffs it in their pocket or maybe throws it in the air and makes it rain while audience members dive for it.

On the regular game shows, contestants compete for valuable prizes, such as a lovely dining room set, some brand-new Samsonite luggage or an exciting vacation in Aruba. But on Liquidation, the contestant maybe already has those things. If so, they’re taken away. If you already had an exciting vacation in Aruba, they can’t take that away, but they can make damn sure it never happens again.

And the show goes on and on until you’re finally broke ass enough to be invalidated. Your forehead is stamped while the audience stands and applauds. Balloons and confetti fall from the ceiling. Strike up the band! Congratulations — you win the grand prize.

When you become invalidated, your status changes from human being to human been.