Some girls have a lot of shoes; I have a lot of purses. So many in fact, that occasionally I run into one while scouring the house for something else. This never fails to turn into a treasure hunt. I tear through that sucker like I expect to find wads of crisp greens or that damn SWV cassette single that’s been AWOL for the past decade. Sometimes I find lip gloss that I had written off as a pick-pocketing casualty; other times I only find a lone tampon and a broken cigarette.
Once, I found a testicle.
But a few years ago, I stumbled upon quite the bonanza. One of my lunch box purses had been negligently shoved under the couch (probably by that worthless sack of shit, Henry). I flung open the top and found four (4) lip glosses that I can’t even remember ever using (let alone buying), tobacco dustings, a free cd acquired at a local concert that I’ll never listen to, more pens for my house to devour and a note from myself.
But wait. What’s that? Oh yes, the pièce de résistance. A vintage picture of one of my pen pals past.
Eddie was my pen pal back in 1992 or so, when I was a spunky, yet highly naive twelve year old. I thought it was such a nice act of charity to be pen palling with a prisoner (and old habits die hard, let me tell you). His letters were filled with such tittilating nuggets of news like how much weight he bench pressed that day and how the canned pears at lunch were floating in just the right amount of syrup. Sometimes he would even placate my fiery loins with a love poetry or two.
As you can see from the cryptic question mark in the photo’s inscription, he really wasn’t sure if I was nice. Or if I was really a lady? Or young? But he probably figured it was a vary safe assessment.
Our friendship was really beginning to blossom until one fateful day. That damn mailman was late again and my mom ended up getting to it before me. My letter from Eddie was intercepted, something about how she saw the stamp from a state prison and felt it was her motherly duty to confiscate it. I saw right through her thinly veiled mask of jealousy – she just wished a hot, smoldering inmate was writing to her.
After unearthing this photographic gem, I curled up with a cup of tea and allowed a montage of what could have been to run through my mind. That is, assuming Eddie is out of jail now.
I could very likely be sharing a double wide in an Alabama trailer park with Eddie, shooting at pigeons with my cross-eyed son’s BB gun, swilling on the neighbor’s moonshine while talking about that day’s Jerry Springer and Judge Judy with my mother-in-law on the tellyphone. Evenings could be spent with Eddie and I giving eraser tattoos to our eighteen younguns. Bathrobe, cold cream and curlers a given.
Fortunately, my life with Henry is not too far off from that.
And just a few months ago, while rummaging in one of the kitchen drawers, I came across a photo of a more recent jailbird. (One could say I was once a bit obsessed with harvesting dangerous friendships.) His name was Mason and he was in there for drugs. Nothing fancy.
The back of this photo says: Erin, I took this picture in August. I hope you like it.
It was scrawled in blood. No I’m kidding. He just used regular old boring black ink. What good is having an inmate penpal if they’re not going to send letters written on chunks of prison guard flesh?
I never did get to ask him if that’s how he always dresses because Henry freaked when he saw this picture and started screaming, “I can tell by his sandals that he has a huge cock; stop corresponding with him immediately!” I mean, does he at least have a matching tie for Sunday mass?
And those were just two of my inmate suitors.
Some girls have a lot of shoes; it appears I have a lot of death wishes.