The Closet

April 4, 2014

Our 5 3/4 year old grandson said to his mom and dad last weekend, “Well, I finally figured it out.”

“What?” they asked.

“Life,” he answered.

“Life?” they wondered.

“Yeah, life is like a closet full of really great things.  It has a door on it and when you make good choices, that door opens and those wonderful things pour out.  But when you make bad choices, the door stays shut,” he told them.

Orange is the New Black, by Piper Kerman, is our most recent book club selection.  Our group chooses books randomly – which our laid-back, adventurous group embraces – but you never know what you might get next.  Even those who choose might be surprised, but that’s just fine b/c we all just love a good story, so we run with ’em.  Someone mentioned that this particular book was the subject of a TV show, (which I’d never heard of), but b/c Barbara, our English teacher, had recommended it, I was looking forward to reading it.  And I was not disappointed.  Kerman’s memoir of her year in a federal prison is a great read, with grace, beauty and love revealed through the lives of many whose own closet doors had often been shut b/c of their choices, b/c of the choices of others or just because.  I didn’t want to put the book down.

Piper Kerman tells it like it is; she doesn’t try to pretty it up.  She’s honest about others, the circumstances and her own choices.  And sometimes her candor, coming out of nowhere, kicks you in the gut and causes you to stop right where you are:

‘When they shackle you, try to flex your wrists so there’s a little more room, and if you try to catch the marshal’s eye when he’s chaining you, maybe he won’t cuff you so tight your circulation goes.  Oh, and double up your socks so the restraints don’t make your ankles bleed.’

‘Pray they don’t send you through Georgia.  They stick you in a county jail, and it’s the worst place I’ve ever been in my life.’…

I went to talk to the Marlboro Man.  ‘Mr. King, they’re shipping me out on a writ, to Chicago.’  I actually succeeded in making him look surprised.

Then he laughed.  ‘Diesel therapy.’


‘Around here we call the airlift ‘diesel therapy.’

I had no idea what he was talking about…..

….After a rough pat-down, a female marshal checked my hair and my mouth for weapons, and the hop was on to the stairs up to the plane. 

On board were more marshals, enormous beefy men and a handful of weathered-looking women in navy blue uniforms.  As we clinked and clanked into the passenger seating area, we were greeted by a wave of testosterone….

Con Air is like a layer cake of the federal prison system.  Every sort of prisoner is represented…

I was feeling more positively about everyone’s shackles….

Con Air does not fly direct….At one stop more women got on.  One of them paused in the aisle, waiting for a marshal to tell her where to sit.  She was a scrawny little white woman, missing teeth, with a cloud of hair that was an indeterminate shade somewhere between gray and peroxide.  She looked like a woebegone yard chicken, like she had led a hard life.  As she stood there, some wise___ called out, ‘Crack kills!’ and half the plane, which must have contained some crack dealers, busted out laughing.  Her homely face fell.  It was like the meanest thing you ever saw on the schoolyard.  (pp. 257, 262, 263)

And some hardly have any closets at all.  🙁  🙁






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