Friday, August 31, 2012
A year later.
A year ago today, I lumbered, with bleary enchantment, out of jail after 4 months of challenging introspection, terrible food and worse company.
I remember it now as though it were some kind of sub-reality, like Alice in Wonderland only without the wonder, without the Alice and with giant stainless steel vats overflowing with pressed turkey and dismay. It was more like a Tyler in Dismayland, I suppose. No matter how ridiculous a given circumstance, the humor-in-absurdity is extinguished at every turn by the realization that you are an orange clad zoo animal in an exhibit nobody wants to visit. The surreality of the situation is reinforced when you experience being treated like something less than a real person.
I don't need to spend anytime convincing anyone that jail is a staggeringly awful place, that stuff you see on Lock Up really happens. However it did give me a never ending stream of stories to tell ranging from terrifying and heartbreaking to ridiculous and disturbingly endearing.
My time in jail marked a lot of firsts for me. It was the first time a grown man told me to, "Turn around and make it pucker." It was the first time I ever experienced a sense of euphoria by sitting down in a chair with a cushion. It was also the first time I ever saw a man with a tramp stamp. There are lots of tattoos inside a jail. Barbed wire, tribal, sleeves, skulls, racism, jesters, crosses, Puerto Rican flags...
Wait... Puerto Rican flags?
I'm not intentionally singling out the entire country of Puerto Rico here, there just seemed to be a disproportionate number of Puerto Ricans in jail at that time and nearly all of them had a flag tat. One such Flag Marked Statesman was having a conversation with another inmate very near to where I was writing. They were discussing the beguiling charm of one of the female inmates, whom had paw prints tattooed up her inner thigh, leading presumably, to a well inked explanation of how classy she is. This damsel was the topic of discussion for less than five seconds then the Flag Bearer said, "Oooh yeah, I'm gonna stick my finger in her butt." I tried, with all of what was left of my humanity, to let it go, but before I could shove my fist in my mouth I blurted, "THAT'S the first thing you want to do? I mean, shouldn't you open with something like hand holding... or I don't know... even an understandable sex act?" I was met with confused silence and then a dismissive hissing noise. A few days later he asked me if I wanted a hair-cut. I'm not entirely sure what his style of hair-cut looks like but I wasn't about to risk the possibility, even as remote as it was, that in Puerto Rico they cut your hair with one finger in your butt.
This tramp stamp isn't subtle. It was his name in bold black letters, just above his waist, with flames coming out of the top. You know what? Let me draw you a quick picture so you can get a better idea of what I'm talking about.
I also want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me through all this chaos. Your letters meant a lot to me. I'm very sorry I wasn't able to write back to every person who wrote to me, despite the staggering amount of down time there were simply just too many. Especially after I realized I needed to hustle the C.O.'s for trustee and community service hours to work off my time.
So, here I am, a year later. Grateful, calm and hopeful.
Posted by Flashmagoo at 9:49 PM