It should come as a surprise to no one that I’d like to do a little time.
I’m not talking about Rikers Island or anything. A medium-security outfit is more my speed. I’d say minimum–for the simple fact that the other felons and I could watch Golden Girls in the evening–but I’m not overly interested in special treatment.
What I am interested in is approximately six months of food from a mess hall, push-ups, writing, reflection and time in the yard.
Would I miss my loved ones? Absolutely. Would I long for tex-mex and sushi? Without a doubt. But would my new svelte physique and School of Hard Knocks degree make up for all that? I think you and I both know the answer to that.
I won’t pretend to know from where this longing comes. Perhaps I come from a long line of crooks. But I can no longer turn a blind eye to my desire to be confined–i.e. comforted–by an 8×10’ space.
If I played my cards right, I wouldn’t miss Christmas or summer. In fact, if I got locked up in January and released in June, I could parade my banging new body at a Fourth of July BBQ. Barring any disciplinary action for unavoidable altercations–which are most often caused by a barter gone awry–this is a plausible timeline.
I know it would be hard on my family–hearing the jury read the verdict. But I hope they would feel better when they looked up through their teary eyes and saw me looking like Surprise Party Sue, biting my jumpsuit to mask my elation.
In the same way some people read books about Tuscany and daydream of vacationing there in the autumn, I see movies about prison or read novels where someone has to do some time, and my mind soars at the possibility of six months in lock-up—where the only real decision I have to make is which gang to join. Although that’s really not a decision, because I already know I’ll join the one that break dances.
I’m also oddly at peace with the fact that I’ll become a smoker. I know I can quit when I’m out and it’s no longer a form of currency. Sure, I’ll miss the nicotine and I’ll occasionally reach towards my shoulder for a pack of smokes, but I’ll steadfastly stick to my resolve to only smoke on special occasions, like an NSYNC reunion tour.
In daydreaming of the opportunity to be put away for awhile, I’ve realized something slightly troublesome. I think I sort of want to get my ass kicked. I don’t want any fractures or damage to my retina, but I wouldn’t mind a black eye and busted lip. I’ll be on the ground after getting whipped–gravel embedded in my skin–and I’ll touch the back of my knuckle to my lip. Seeing the transfer of red will prompt me to spit out a mouthful of blood like a bonafide welter weight. I’ll look up at Big Roz, my assailant, and say, “Nice left hook.” She’ll see I’m not so bad and stick out her hand to help me up. This will not go unnoticed by the inmates or the throng of guards rushing in to stop the madness. In just under five minutes, my street cred will shoot through the roof. I’ll have a chipped tooth and Big Roz’s gangster arm flung around my shoulder. Win-win.
I could be mistaken, but I feel like I would become a guard favorite. If not for my adherence to all rules, then my willingness to attack my chores with a fervor not often seen in the female prison ranks. I’d find my daily work assignments refreshing in their simplicity–favoring a directive of “wax all floors” over “create compelling copy to drive our core customer to the store.”
I believe the favor of the guards would garner me a few extra phone calls per week and the occasional cherry sucker, slipped through the rails. Rawls, my favorite guard–for our shared loathing of the UCONN Huskies–would know cherry was my favorite, but that any red flavor would do.
I’ve never heard that prison food is fantastic, but I’ve always liked things like oatmeal and cream of wheat. So if what I imagine is correct, and porridge is their best offering, I’ll be delighted. If, on the other hand, I’m served less filling things like stuffed bell peppers, I’ll lean on my guard comrades to supplement my diet with late night Twinkies.
Some might worry that the partiality of the guards will put me in harm’s ways with the other ne’er-do-wells. But I assure you, most of them won’t be too keen on jumping the only girl in the yard who can do one-arm push-ups with a Marlboro Light dangling from her lips. And that’s just the reality of life at the correctional facility–as inmate number 455319.
I foresee a time–maybe a few weeks into my sentence–when I’ll get a tattoo. If I opt out of permanently inking my inmate number along my collarbone, I’ll go with something a fellow criminal draws for me. Her graffiti on the Brooklyn Bridge may have been frowned upon by city officials, but her brilliance will be treasured as an eternal impression on my forearm. I’ll tell her the illustration needs to include a cross, a hummingbird and a serrano pepper. I am certain she’ll create something appropriate and tasteful.
The friends I’ll make in the clink won’t–at first blush–seem to be the ones that will endure. First, we’ll simply share snacks and trade smokes, but in time, we’ll promise to name our children after one another. When the time comes to part, I’ll promise the girls I’ll write–and I will.
One of the best parts about my time in the pokey will be the cool nickname the girls give me. I think it’ll be Ace or Quickswitch–the latter for reasons no one on the outside will ever be privy. It’s how I’ll sign my letters to them. I’m already seeing a prominent “Q” with the remainder illegible. This will lead them to calling me “Q” once I’m away. “Hey yo! I got a letter from Q!” Just hearing the gang say this in my head will make me want to go back.
But I won’t. I’ll never return to my criminal ways. At most (and this is but a pipe dream) I’ll speak to seemingly normal, well-balanced citizens about their latent desires to spend time in the pen. We’ll discuss Orange Is The New Black, the pros and cons of life behind bars, and—because I’m not a dream crusher—the benefits of prepping for some “totally and completely unforeseen time away.”