When I woke up this morning, I had a startling realization: I have no prison skills.
Now, don’t ask me why this came to mind, in my drooly, sleepy stupor. Maybe I was dreaming about prison (again — yeeks!), or maybe a police siren was wailing in my neighborhood as I was waking up. Or possibly, I was just semi-subconsciously flashing back to watching Shawshank Redemption for the umpteen-hundredth time on cable a few nights ago.
(And honestly, that’s a great movie and all, but was that thing ever in theaters? I mean, I was around when it was made, but I don’t remember any buzz about it at the time, really. Now, on the other hand, you can’t swing a dead cat around TBS without smacking into the thing.
It’s weird — like that, and Major League on USA just came straight out of the script and onto cable. And you never see either one on, like, HBO, either. It’s always basic cable, where a two-hour movie can get stretched out to a Wednesday-and-a-half with show promos and peenie-pill ads.
I even imagine — since I’ve only seen the ‘expurgated’ versions of these movies on cable — that there’s some raunchy, explicit, super-lubed sex scene that I’ve always missed, because the network censors cut it out. Or some sort of bloodbath, with gore and blood and body parts a-flyin’. Who would know, eh?
Of course… if that’s true, then I really hope it’s the senseless violence in Shawshank, and the steamy sex in Major League. Having seen both of them enough to memorize the scripts, I can’t imagine how the hell that would work the other way around. And lord knows we don’t need anything around here involving Tim Robbins’ shiny bare ass.)
Okay, what the hell was I talking about? I’ve lost track already.
Oh, right — prison skills, and my woeful lack thereof. I got it.
So, for whatever reason, it hit me today that I’m probably not cut out for prison. Which is no real shame, of course — it’s not like I’d been planning on going to prison in the first place.
(Doing something that could conceivably land me in prison… well, sure, I’ve planned a few of those. But I’ve also planned on getting away with them, which pretty much circumvents the whole ‘incarceration’ thing altogether. So I’m not sure that counts. And don’t tell anyone. Shhhhh!)
But if I’ve learned anything from watching prison movies for the past twenty years or so, it’s… well, clearly, it’s ‘don’t drop the soap’, actually. If there’s only one thing that’s gonna stick with me about prison life, that’s pretty much the big one. But that’s not the point here. Let’s try that again.
So, if I’ve learned two things from watching prison movies the past few years, it’s:
Seriously, think about it — in Shawshank, everybody had a purpose, and everyone knew what the others were all about. Morgan Freeman knew how to ‘get stuff’. Every prison — and therefore, every prison movie — has a guy who can ‘get stuff’.
And the ‘Sisters’ — they were there to do the raping and savage beating. Again, standard prison (movie) issue, from what I gather. And Tim Robbins’ character, after a bit of soul-searching, became the guy who ‘figures stuff out’. And later, the guy who escaped.
(Not to give away the ending or anything, but shit, people — if you haven’t seen the movie by now, then you’re never going to. Either you don’t want to, or you’re living in a gloomy cave soemwhere without cable, or probably electricity of any kind, and you’ll never have the wherewithal to see it in the first place.
Of course… if you really are spending your life hunkered in an unlit cave somewhere — and I’m assuming the ‘hunkering’, since that’s what people seem to do in caves — then I’m not sure how you’re reading this right now. Seems unlikely. But maybe you have a Blackberry; what the hell do I know, eh?)
The problem for me, is — I’m not any of those guys. I don’t escape things, and I wouldn’t have the first clue about how to ‘get’… ‘stuff’. Why would you even want ‘stuff’? I’d be so bad at that.
And the raping, and the beating? Oy. So tiring, it sounds. Not for me. Not at all.
So that’s when it hit me — who the hell would I be in prison? I racked my brain for other options, and still came up empty. For instance, I couldn’t be Brooks — i.e., ‘crazy old guy who keeps a bird, and ends up hanging himself’. I mean, really… who wants a damned dirty bird around all the time? I think I might be allergic, anyway. And that ‘hanging’ thing sounds like it would chafe. No, it definitely wouldn’t work. Next.
I thought maybe I could be ‘new mysterious guy’ — and sure, I could probably pull that off for a bit. But that’s only gonna work for a while, and you’ve got to back that up with something — you can’t spend your whole prison career being ‘new mysterious guy’; it doesn’t work that way.
I might have a shot at ‘guy who cries the first night and gets the shit kicked out of him’; that’s probably got potential. But truly — if I’m really honest with myself here — I think that first day of ‘going to prison’ would be so exhausting that I’d be asleep before my head hit the stains on the bunk bed pillow. That’s got to be a whirlwind day, and I just can’t imagine having the energy to stay up late getting my ribs kicked in. I’m just not that committed, I think.
Which leaves me with… well, nothing, really. And it’s not just Shawshank — I’ve been through lots of movies in my head today, and I’ve got nothing in any of them. Cool Hand Luke, no. There’s a ‘get stuff’ guy, and a ‘prison enforcer’ guy, and then Luke, the ‘stubborn risky’ guy, and none of those really suit me. Then there’s The Green Mile, which, really, only has ‘asshole guy’, who’s very probably in the ‘raping and beating’ group, and ‘big magical black guy’. I can’t pull that shit off. One at a time, maybe — but ‘big’, ‘magical’, and ‘black’? Damn. That’s a tall order, people.
(And where the hell did that character come from, anyway? You don’t see that kind of shit in the other movies — I’m not even sure every jail has one of those. I sure as hell don’t remember that in Oz, and they had everything.)
So, I guess that’s it — I’m gonna just have to not go to prison. It’s almost a relief, in a way — I mean, who knows what to pack for a trip like that? It gets so confusing! But on the other hand, I’ll never get to make a daring escape, or lead a bloody riot, or learn how to whittle a shiv out of an old toothbrush. These are valuable skills, people, and I’m missing out!
Anyway, that’s what’s been on my mind today — how I’d pass the time in prison. And now that I’ve spent a couple of dozen paragraphs on it, maybe that’s the answer — if I ever got thrown in the clink, maybe I’d be the guy to come up with the legalese doubletalk on other inmates’ parole applications. Hell, I’m good at going on and on without saying anything, really — or even having a topic, to speak of. Maybe that’d get me in good with the cool kids, and the guy who gets stuff. Somebody has to watch your back in the exercise yard, you know. That shit is important!Permalink | 4 Comments