Monday, June 28, 2010

I Wish He Wore an Orange Jumpsuit

I wish men were more like the ones locked up. The men that I interact with on a regular could take a lesson from the ones that I only see through thick, bullet proof glass. Even with a “granny glasses” thick window between us I get more from these men than the ones I sit across from at romantic restaurants. As I write these words I am unsure if I will even publish this post, fearful of the backlash that I’ll receive from the men that will actually read this—the ones that are out in general population. I maybe won’t publish this for fear of what it means about me, that I yearn for “law abiding” upright men to actually possess something that these tabooed imprisoned men have. I maybe wont publish this because once I do it’s out there in cyber world and I can’t undo it even if one day I might want to.

The orange jumpsuits don’t turn me on. The men don’t either. I am completely professional even with the ones that under different circumstances are fine enough to illicit a second look. There is nothing inappropriate going on in that box they call attorney booths. When I sit across from them, though, I realize why I am single. And it has nothing to do with any kind of sick jail man fetish. I am single because the men I meet in their supposed civilized glory are not half as respectful as these jail men, aren’t half as interesting, and not even one quarter as honest.

I am not delusional. I understand that the circumstances are totally different when I am interviewing these clients for business purposes. It is their life on the line so their honesty is probably a direct correlation of that. It’s not the words that they say; however, it’s the implicit openness. It’s the way that they talk to me. There are no pretenses. When I talk to them I feel like I am talking to a person and not some caricature that money, suburbia, and two parent homes have created. There is no ego. I think that’s what it really is. I am trying to figure this out as I type it--this is a process I’m going through right now. And the process right now is telling me that what I want them to somehow magically shock into the men I deal with is the decreased ego. I want them to shoot into these men the way they shoot people, the way they shoot up, just shoot in them this lack of ego. Shoot it into them because while there is all this banter about the egos of “hood niggas” (sorry to my white readership) they don’t have anything on the ego of an “intellect.”

Originally what got me to thinking about this came about a month ago. I had done a few jail interviews but not enough that the novelty had worn off. And I noticed a trend. Every time, typically right before the interview was over and when my inmate had probably sniffed me up, understood that in my straight laced world I interact with men of equal caliber, men that don’t know what the hell they are doing when it comes to women, he compliments me. He says something like, “you are really beautiful” “you have really pretty eyes” “will I ever see you again” (which I quickly and flatly answer: “no.”). The thing is as I am walking down the quiet, uber institutionalized hall after the interview is over and I’m all alone-- I smile. Not because I need affirmations from jailbirds but more because it’s so rare to get it from these college bred men I deal with. I dated a man for several months and if he had of said one of those lines (and yes I know they are lines) he might have been that much more closer to ultimately getting what he wanted—ass (I am doing so much tonight!). My point is not that these men are better or more well intentioned it’s that they actually take the time to say something nice. They drop some of the veneer and let themselves be vulnerable to rejection. My kind of men run from rejection like the plague.

Currently, I am reading Helena Andrews Bitch is the new black, a memoir on being black, single, and educated in D.C. one of the most urban cities in America. In a very strong passage she says that as she walks along the street the doormen compliment her and a friend. “We ignore the ‘compliments’ they chip in on the dresses meant to entice better men.” When I read that line there was something in me that cringed. How dare she measure men’s caliber based on their career choices. In my heart of hearts though, I understood, identified with what she was saying. Maybe it was the part of me that I try hard to keep hidden, the elitist. What I would tell her, though, is that the sad truth is that when she goes into her extra boogie lounge later in the evening the men that she will come into contact with the “better men” she speaks of will probably not give her one single compliment. They will look---but they are much too cool to say anything nice. It wasn’t until I sat in a D.C. cigar lounge myself that I understood that there was something really weird going on. The men all at the bars---together, the women lounging waiting for these seemingly disinterested men to drop the act and interact. And at the end of the night these silent men somehow think that they are going to bed women. Huh? The jail men, on the other hand, would have worked hard for any lay they got.

The problem, I think, is that suburbia and college degrees have stripped what use to be very suave men into men that don’t know how to talk to women. The men in jail—at least the ones I come into contact with—don’t have much. They don’t have jobs, or degrees, or nice houses and cars. Instead, they have to rely on simply their personality. So, I find these men interesting because they can use their personality and honesty to actually make me kind of giggle. It’s refreshing. I just wish that these men that are so smart could find a personality, could find a morsel of what it takes to intrigue women. While these men are in school learning what books can offer, sadly, they are clueless to the basic level of understanding of women. Maybe its because while these men are in school learning about the world these other men are out living it. I'm coming to find that what so many women label as swag is just us wanting a man to know how to stimulate us, really just how to talk to us.


  1. I like this. But I think part of the problem lies in the social mobility gospel that says anyone with a Bachelor's degree should be able to marry someone with a MD/PhD/JD/MBA who looks like a model. People are always looking for something better, so you end up with people spending 3 hours at a lounge just looking at folks, rolling their eyes and thinking about how they're too good for the place. I hate that scene!

    All a college degree says is that you can finish something long term & you probably didn't grow up working class. And, while things like intellectual curiosity and political engagement are definitely correlated to completion of higher education, they certainly aren't guarantors.
    Too many people worry about a person's pedigree first, and their character later. Everybody wants a trophy to take home, but we overemphasize what people DO as opposed to who they ARE. Prisoners learn real quick that when/if they ever get out, their "credentials" aren't going to get them anywhere fast so the ones who are truly trying to make a change treat people with respect and dignity in the hopes that it will be returned.

  2. note: My original post was way longer. I thought I posted it two days ago, but it disappeared. I must have done something wrong.

    Ego is good. It is the thing that makes men believe they have enough within themselves to be great. Men in orange jumpsuits have had their egos stripped from them. They know the score behind those bars.They are locked away with hteir freedom taken away. Men on the outside know the score too. Men on the outside know the score. We see the same stats women see about the lack of eligible good men. So when we feel we are good men, we act like it. While some people overdo it, on the whole ego is a good thing.