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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

pockets out! open your mouth!

one of my best friends, L, was a bartender for some time at this local dive. i'd hang out there with her on occassion, and came to know her fellow barmaid compadres. one of them recently became pregnant. her story is kind of a sad one, but her personality is strong and, with her, we've taken things in stride and with lots and lots of laughter.

the father of her unborn child is currently serving a sentence of about 6 months at the county jail. that story is also a long and really sad one, but that's not what we're going to talk about today. we're going to talk about how the preggers girl, her sister, and her sister's boyfriend attempted to visit the inmate this past weekend.

and so the story goes...

C (the sister) lives about 4 hours away with her boyfriend. I went to high school with her and her preggers, younger, sister (M) is actually a closer friend of mine despite the age and situation. i suppose that's irrelevant though...

if you've never visited a jail or never taken a tour or even seen one of those dramatic Scared Straight segments on Montel Williams or Oprah, you may not know that there are very strict rules when it comes to entering a detention facility. basically everything is considered contraband. of course there are the standard staples that could be used as a distorted form of currency in prison, like cigarettes, gum, food, etc. items presenting themselves on the less famous list are things like belts, baseball caps, body jewelry, and earrings. and if you have "body jewelry" in your ears, that's just asking for trouble.

prior to C's arrival, M had warned her of this strict rules. M was a pro at this point, having gone to visit her boy nearly daily for the past few months. C said it would be no problem, but quickly forgot about this caveat until they were on their way to the jail. thinking on her feet (or, her butt, rather, as they were in the car) M recalled an occassion a few weeks prior when she spied a fellow visitor donning a bandaid on her nose. the bandaid, of course, was to cover the visitor's nose ring.

with swift decidedness, she demanded they stop at the nearest gas station. the out-of-towners sat in the car, slightly bewildered, until M reappeared with a small plastic bag grasped in her right hand. they giggled and shot odd looks at the pregnant young girl. looks and laughter that only grew as M revealed her plan. she took out a package of gauze and athletic tape and began working on her sister's ears. despite her concerns of not hearing well, or at all, in the one ear, the boyfriend drove onward, still smiling.

when they got to the jail, M took a seat to allow her bandaged sister and sheepish companion first dibs on entry. that's yet another rule of the slammer: two at a time.

as the line of wives, friends, sisters, children, and otherwise shameful or arrogant individuals filed through the guard and metal detector, M sat and watched. she watched the male line and noted people she thought were pretty or ugly, sketchy or out of place. bored, she looked to the female line and let her mind wander. then she snapped back to cognition as she noticed the particularly vigilant guard that was on duty. pockets out! open your mouth! as the women and girls beeped through the archway, she had them turn out their pant pockets, remove belts, spit out gum, and lift their hair to reveal their ears. not sure whether to laugh or grow concerned, she simply sat and watched her petite, skittish sister inch her way toward the domineering lady in uniform, smiling slightly.

pockets out! open your mouth! the guard snapped at C, who complied with a sweet smile.

ok, g'ahed.

thanks! C looked to the men's line to spot her partner.

wait, you don't got any earrings right?

oh, no! again, a smile.

the guard squinted, barely squinted. then tilted her head to the side slightly. there was something white that grabbed her attention. the abrupt stop of the fluid routine of the line caught everyone's attention and now all eyes were on C.

lemme see your ears.

C looked to her sister, who was now pretending not to notice. she looked back at the guard. (be cool! be cool!) and slowly lifted both arms, cupped her hands, and tucked her fine blonde hair behind her ears.

what's that? the guard said with Queen Latifah assertiveness.


uh... cracked out. i have cuts.

she looked uncertain and sounded even moreso. M tried to hide her laughter, but it was now pointless as C herself squeaked out a breathy grin.

the guard shook her head and denied the young lady entrance to the facility on grounds of contraband smuggling.


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