18 Dec 05
Christmas Visits With My Parents
8.00 a.m. I’m sat at my desk waiting to be called to the first visit with my parents. I’m dressed in top-drawer orangewear including Two Tonys’ sweatshirt, pants hemmed by Long Island, sneakers shined by George, and socks with no holes in them. I’m nervous but happy.
8.05 a.m. Half a dozen inmates called for visits. Why wasn’t I in the first batch? Waves of excitement are splashing around my stomach. Burping is not providing relief.
8.10 a.m. More visits called – each one adding to my tension. Perhaps my parents have been turned away by a guard? Maybe they're having problems like last year when Mum violated the dress code by wearing an open-neck shirt that revealed her collarbone, and the visitation gatekeeper was unfamiliar with UK IDs? Perhaps jet lag caused them to over-sleep, or they couldn’t find the prison?
8.20 a.m. The longer I remain uncalled, the faster my worries go round and round, round and round, round and round…
8.25 a.m. The announcement will put me out of my misery – when it comes!
8.29 a.m. They should be here by now! Perhaps something bad has happened. I need to pee.
8.30 a.m. My bladder was mostly empty.
8.31 a.m. “Attention Dog 11, you’ve got a visit.” What joy!
I tap-danced to the visitation room – a school-hall-type area with desks, chairs, vending machines, and watchful guards. Before checking in at the visitation desk, I hugged Mum, hugged Dad, and hugged Mum again.
Whilst eating chips and nuts we chatted feverishly. We discussed how each of us had been faring emotionally and physically, the kindness of blog readers, family and friends, and the recent Cosmo article. We then moved onto current events, philosophy, psychology, and literature. I had so much fun that the six-hour visit seemed to last only an hour or two.
Sitting in an outdoor cage with two dozen prisoners awaiting strip-searches, I thought about how precious the visit had been. Returning to prison reality was a downer. When you are deprived of so much, little things such as being able to give your mum a hug mean a lot.
“I really gotta take a shit!” an inmate said.
“My sister-in-law wants me to hook up with one of her girlfriends. I told her ‘Hell no! Are you crazy?’ Why would I wanna have some chick doin’ time with me?”
“I’ve got three chicks visiting me – on rotation.”
“If I need a girlfriend, I grab a Playboy.”
“My stomache’s killin’. I gotta shit.”
“Why would I wanna put a chick through the misery of fallin’ in love with me, when my sorry ass is in here?”
“I’ve gotta get back to my house to take a shit. Would you fellas mind if I get stripped out first, before I have a fuckin’ accident?”
“Fuck that! I’m sick. You ain’t jumpin’ in front o’ me.”
“Yeah. What makes you think you’re so fuckin’ special?”
“Take a shit in the visitation room, homey.”
“I can’t shit in there. I’ve got standards.”
“You don’t have to sit on the seat. Just kinda squat a bit.”
“I’ve really fuckin’ gotzta go. I’ll wait till all the visitors have gone. I don’t wannem smellin’ my shit when I open the door.”
As I was fourth in line, I didn’t have to wait long to enter a chilly room with a stocky Chicano guard, who, although pleasant and polite, had refined his strip-search techniques to levels I’d never experienced: “Pull your foreskin back.”