Saturday, August 13, 2011

Dream of a Tolerable Prison

Somewhere in the background of this dream, a chaotic event: the calendar had somehow collapsed on itself (whether by accident or design, it was unclear), and several holidays—Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and New Year’s Eve*—were all happening at once. Much of the world thought that this was a sign of our last day on earth, and in the midst of the havoc being wreaked, I woke up in prison.

The prison seemed more like a commune: there were few guards and most of the inmates were women. There was also a kind of golden brown light. Our first task of the day was to perform an exercise where we stood on a yoga mat and waved our arms back and forth. My cellmate told me we were supposed to pay for the mats, but if I got rid of the price tag on mine, they would think I had already paid.

Our next task was a math lesson. My cellmate opened the book and showed me where all the dirty pictures were: a cartoon of a little girl with fully developed breasts, an educational looking silhouette of an uncircumcised penis. She went on to tell me she had wound up in jail after encountering an alien. When she said alien, I didn’t picture the big-headed, bug-eyed kind, but instead a brownish, four-legged beast.

It was a relief to be in a prison like this, I came to understand, like a womb away from the hell that was taking place outside. The buzz among the inmates was that the institution had somehow slipped through the cracks, and anyone who wound up incarcerated there was the envy of the rest of the prison system. And it was true: the only stress I now felt was that I hadn’t finished my math lesson.

*Is this Garry Marshall’s fault? 

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