Prison has its share of problems. In contention for chief among them is the proximity to strangers you’d otherwise never spend a minute around. When one of my sons was young he used to scratch his head at the fact that his mother and I weren’t scheduling sleep overs with our friends on the weekends. He did it all the time, why weren’t we? “Proximity, son. Proximity. Your mother and I like our friends, we just need to keep a healthy distance from them at night.”
No such thing as a “healthy distance” in prison.
Proximity isn’t always bad, though. After getting into an argument with a guy the other day we found ourselves next to each other in the chow line. Rather than stand there and shuffle forward together awkwardly he decided things would be better if we hugged it out. So we hugged. Things got better. Nice guy, when his isn’t yelling at you of course.
Close proximity is the wool sweater of spatial contentment: when it’s cold outside nothing is better than a comfy wool sweater, but when it get’s just the least bit warm that wool sweater turns into an itchy nightmare.
The other day I had the cold day wool sweater on.
I was standing in the chow line (as I seem to be when all the best things happen) while the guy in front of me was in conversation with the guy behind me. He was trying to describe someone by saying, “You know, he’s about 5’10”, bald, wears glasses, and has no teeth.” The 5’10”, bald, no-teeth having, glasses wearing guy behind me couldn’t figure out who he was talking about.
They kept at it for a while, but then our turn for hot dog soup came and the matter was dropped.