How Stella Got her Jazzy Back


Meet me at the mall! (please!)
Whatever you do, DON'T say wheelchair! Say Lark, Sidekick, Celebrity, Walkabout or Sundancer! Say Legend, Rally, Dynamo, or (my personal favorites) Jazzy or Rascal - and say it loud, say it proud! Described as "scooters" or "power chairs" by their manufacturers, these motorized, wheelchair-esque (but, you know, different) vehicles are EVERYWHERE, just like the ever-expanding elderly and obese populations often seen riding them. Maneuvering through tight spots both indoors and out, these splendiferous seats are making life easier and way more fun for those who, for various reasons, just cannot be on their feet. (There's even an older lady in my neighborhood who drives her Walkabout around the nearby park's bike lane, for "exercise!")

Regardless of maker and whimsical nomenclature, these footloose 'n fancyfree mobile thrones are STYLISH and EXCITING, or so say their splashy, upbeat informational brochures. The "W" word is conspicuously absent from this literature, as is photographic representation of the feeble, shut-in or bed-ridden (unless you count spokesmodel Annette Funicello) amongst the shots of ecstatic, smugly satisfied SCOOTERSTARS. But I guess that's the point; these glammed-up riding lawnmowers not only change your life but your IMAGE as well. "People see an individual on a stylish mobility product," allege the folks behind the Jazzy, "not an individual requiring special mobility needs."

The Jazzy Power Chair is available in several self-proclaimed "elegant" models, including the Jazzy 1120 with "Active-Trac suspension, Versa Seat Frame, Jay cushion and back, Elevating Leg Rests and red shroud." SHROUD? How grim! In reality, the shroud is nothing more than the shiny bowlingball-colored fiberglass hulls of these magnificent vehicles. Also stylish yet functional are optional Jazzy features like joystick controllers of all imaginable needs and quirks (including the Stephen Hawking-esque Chin Control Ball), attachable holders for toting along oxygen tanks, crutches, canes, walkers as well as drinks, bottles of liquor, and elevating leg rests (for sleepy time, after Happy Hour).

"You have nothing to lose but your pain!"
(it actually says this in the brochure)

The Jazzy isn't the only game in town, however. "Tell your friends - Meet me at the mall!" orders the Rascal brochure. While the idealized Jazzy user looks for STYLE and ELEGANCE in their shrouded scooter, the randier, slightly more low-brow Rascal looks to put the FUN back in "Funicello" - even the logo features the curious touch of a racoon-like tail attached to the product name. Gross! "You'll just ZIP around the house with this agile and easy-to-use 4-wheeled powerchair," boasts the Rascal literature, which also shows robust RASCALITES living it up on the streets, in the park, and even playing the slots at Caesar's, lending credence to the manufacturer's claims that you can "travel to fun places" and "ride FIRST CLASS on a Rascal!"

After jaunts to the shopping center and Reno, however, the time will come when not only your Rascal's batteries must be recharged, but your own as well. Sit back, read a book, watch some TV - but what if you can't get up afterwards? The visionaries at Pride, the makers of the Jazzy, also offer a full line of Luxury Lift Recliners. Endorsed by former Mousketeer Annette Funicello, these electrified La-Z-Boys offer that famous Jazzy STYLE in stationary format. No longer hindered by trick-legs or degenerative muscular disorders, you can finally feel free to sit down without fearing that your evil, thieving home health aide will find you stuck in a pee-soaked conventional recliner the next morning!

Of course, the Jazzy, Rascal, and Luxury Lift Recliner are bonafide health care miracle devices that really DO help thousands of elderly and differently-abled people live better lives, but whose life couldn't use a little assistance? If you can't afford or justify an in-house nurse or robot to pull you off the couch or help you drop a nickel into a slot machine, surely one of these sublime inventions could be a much-needed consolation for living in this modern world - especially since insurance or Medicare will probably cover the cost. Go for it! You have nothing to lose but needless footsteps and tedious physical exertion.

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