Day 7.

I forgot the best story of the day in yesterday’s post. After I brushed my teeth the night before last, as I was rinsing off my toothbrush, I dropped it in the sink. I was a little grossed out because it’s a public sink, but I thought, It’s just water and my own toothpaste spit, it’s no big deal. So I picked up the toothbrush, and on the end of it, tangled up in the bristles, there was a big clump of hair! Aaaaaa!!! I pulled the hair off (which was not as easy as one might hope) washed the toothbrush thoroughly with soap and rinsed it forEVER but I still can’t stop thinking about it. I retched a little when I put it in my mouth the next morning.

There were rumors all day yesterday which were confirmed after dinner -- and believe you me the red t-shirts were aghast and then disconsolate as the news spread throughout the floor -- that, because we are dosing every day for the next 6 days, we are also having the same meals every day for the next 6 days. I’m not sure what the fuss is about, but there’s not much to do here except fuss. Lunch was okay (tuna salad on a croissant, chicken noodle soup, potato chips) and dinner was fine (King Ranch Casserole -- it’s one of those things that only exist in Texas, like "Texas Caviar" (it's bean salad made with black-eyed peas) and “queso” (pronounced “kay-so,” it’s some kind of cheese dip), and which Texans simply can’t get their heads around the idea that someone might not know what it is -- and a piece of sheet cake that was tasty, moist with an orange-flavored icing). Even breakfast could have been worse (hard boiled egg, Cheerios, and a bagel -- okay, the bagel was nasty and came with fat-free cream cheese; it was like eating a sneaker -- but everything else was perfectly edible). It could have been worse. Much worse.

This morning at breakfast, I came in on the middle of a conversation about prison conditions, the kind of topic I try to stay the hell away from in this place. The consensus at the table was that American prisoners are coddled because we're too concerned about their (big air quotes) "human rights." No issue is very complicated with these people. My neighbor, the one who snorts in the morning and talks about Jesus all day long (he's 32 I think he said, has 4 children, two of them 15 year old boys), talked about how he knew guys who deliberately tried to get prison sentences. He said, "You must be gay if you want to go to prison, just so you can look at naked men all day." He went on to share an anecdote from his time in prison, I can't remember the details but some woman who was on the staff at the prison was treating him badly in some way when he'd done nothing to provoke it. I took a deep breath and said, "Maybe she was angry because you were making snide remarks about gay people." My voice was quavering, and he said, "What?" I repeated, "Maybe she was angry because you were making snide remarks about gay people." He said, "I wasn't making snide remarks, I just said you'd have to be gay if you want to look at naked men all day."

Someone else at the table picked up the conversation without missing a beat, totally ignoring our exchange, and I went back to my silent breakfast. A moment later, when the person who was sitting between us had gotten up and left, Jesus Snort turned to me and said, "If I offended you in any way, I'm terribly sorry." I heard him, but I said, "What?" I think probably just to hear him say it again. I nodded.

I wanted to have a conversation about why his remark was offensive, but I didn't trust myself not to choke up or start crying or something. I hate that. All the performing and public speaking I've done, with fairly minimal nervousness, I still can't confront someone who disagrees with me without feeling almost paralyzing anxiety. I'll try to catch him later when I've rehearsed a few sentences to get started -- because I want to explain and because I want to apologize for being sarcastic.

God dammit. This is exactly the kind of thing I try so hard to avoid here.