Prisoners are persons whom most of us would rather not think about. Banished from everyday sight, they exist in a shadow world that only dimly enters our awareness. They are members of a "total institution" that controls their daily existence in a way that few of us can imagine. "[P]rison is a complex of physical arrangements and of measures, all wholly governmental, all wholly performed by agents of government, which determine the total existence of certain human beings (except perhaps in the realm of the spirit, and inevitably there as well) from sundown to sundown, sleeping, walking, speaking, silent, working, playing, viewing, eating, voiding, reading, alone, with others. . . ." It is thus easy to think of prisoners as members of a separate netherworld, driven by its own demands, ordered by its own customs, ruled by those whose claim to power rests on raw necessity. -- Justice William Brennan, dissenting in O’Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 354-55 (1987).

Thursday, March 29, 2007

"UR 2 Prittee" (Part 1 of 3)

What should I do with my hair before I report to prison? I had been thinking about this for some time and had my haircut scheduled for 2:30p today. The same guy has been cutting my hair for 13 years so I figured I would ask him, but he didn't know I was going to prison.

Now you have to understand that I have had medium to longish hair parted down the middle since I was 13 years old (check out the pic in the previous blog entry for recent "look"), sometimes almost as long as my shoulders. Recently, it had gotten long enough that someone called it a "Keith Urban" look, which I didn't know whether to take as a compliment or not. When I used to wear glasses, I had been compared to Eric Clapton when his hair was longer. Nonetheless, I was intrigued by the idea of getting it cut really short but when you've had it basically the same way for thirty-something years, change is hard. I really am a "rut" kind of guy, which kind of goes along with my borderline O/C tendencies.

Before my appointment, however, I made my daily lunch trip to WizeGuys, the last one for at least 3 months, where I broached the question with Colleen and Trish, both standing behind the bar. They insisted that I get a "buzz" cut. I mean really insisted, especially Colleen, who seemed particularly concerned about what might happen to me if I didn't get it cut, which had me puzzled. I looked at Ray, a "regular" sitting several seats to my left, who apparently knew exactly where she was going with this, but wasn't about to help her out. I was, of course, totally confused.

Finally, she simply said, "Bill, you're just too pretty." Except that she pronounced "pretty" very succinctly... "prittee." Trust me, there is a big difference between "pretty" and "prittee."

No one has ever called me "prittee" (or "pretty" for that matter) before. I have never thought of myself as a particulary good looking or bad looking guy, but this really wasn't about that; this was about my hair. I have pretty hair... apparently. And pretty hair is not a good thing to have in prison... apparently. (Now how or why Colleen knows all this I'm not sure, but she seemed pretty darn emphatic about it. Don't get me wrong, she wasn't being mean; she was really concerned about me or I'm sure she wouldn't have said it, which is actually quite sweet of her.)

Trish didn't seem to want to comment on the "pretty" issue; she just thought cutting my hair off was symbolic of a new start and this was as good a time as any to do it.

Well, if "two girls in a bar" (this is a theme I will continue with in my next post) think I should cut my hair off, who am I to disagree? Well, actually, I guess that would depend on who the girls were. In this case they were friends. Nonetheless, I wisely chose to consult with my wife (as I always do) by phone on my way to the "salon" and she was actually surprisingly indifferent. "It will grow back if you don't like it." Spoken like a wife who loves me no matter how ugly I am. Thank you dear.

I arrived at the "salon" and told "Don" I needed something drastic today and told him my situation and he didn't blink and started cutting it off. It isn't really a true buzz cut... more like a Justin Timerlake look. Not that I know much about Justin Timberlake.

Early feedback is so-so. My wife wants my "pretty" hair back which means I am probably going to grow it back. My oldest daughter likes it the old way too. My mom kind of likes it short. My dad thinks it makes me look older. Trish and Ronna appeared diplomatic so I'm not sure how much I can count on their opinion. :)

I don't feel any different because I don't have to look at myself most of the day. Certainly, it will be easier to deal with in prison, especially if I can't get a shower every day. And April, May, and June can get hot in Florida. Not sure yet if they have AC in prison.

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