Hippie Chick My First Friend

I was new to prison. I didn’t trust anybody. I was out for my one hour of yard time and saw the woman I sat next to in church the night before, Hippie Chick. She was the first person I met in prison that didn’t scare me. I walked over, hoping she would remember me. Hippie Chick My First Friend

Hippie Chick My First Friend
Hippie Chick

“Dude!” she smiled when she saw me. We circled and talked about the shock of arriving in prison and discovered we were just a few cells away from each other. She told me she had a few skirmishes with the law but had never been to prison. I told her about my daughters, Nikki and Haley, how they were mucking along motherless. That hit home. A gut-wrenching sob escaped her throat, tears gushed down her cheeks. Her daughter was stranded as well. I wondered how she dared to cry in prison.

“Sorry, I cry all the time.”  Then she laughed and cried again, using her squeegee hands to wipe her tears as she had in church.

“Aren’t you afraid these thugs will see you as weak?” I gestured to my twiggy arms. “I got nothin’ to defend myself.”

Hippie Chick rolled up her sweatshirt sleeves and curled her bicep.

“My God!” I said and tried out some slang. “Girrrl, I hope we can be friends, I need a bouncer up in here.” I sounded ridiculous. I could just imagine my daughters’ revulsion: “Mother. Please!” But my daughters were far away from me. Hippie Chick was pleased with my compliment and flexed her arms and laughed. She had a wide smile and held nothing back.

“Yeah, dude. I got guns!” She threw her head back and howled. She just kept laughing. She laughed too long, it was awkward and that made me laugh.

We circled the yard and stopped in front of the window that looked into the unit. It rose from ground level to about ten feet. From the inside, it was a godsend and provided a view of the sky and in that portion of the room, some natural light. From the outside, with the sun reflecting on the green glass, it was a mirror. Our only other mirror was a wavy plastic 8×10 above the sink. The window was the only way to look at your body below the neck.

“Oh my God, is that me?” I stammered. “Look what has happened from the prison food. I have never had skinnier arms and legs and a rounder middle. I look like a squeezed the toothpaste tube, from the arms and legs in. Gross.”

She laughed and bent forward slapping her legs, “Dude! That’s not O.K.”

“Why do I care?” I asked her. “I shouldn’t care, I am incarcerated.” I waved my arm around the yard, “why do these girls even bother with the cheap eye shadow and all that hair braiding?”

“For a lot of these girls, their looks are all they have,” Hippie Chick said, suddenly serious. “I’d say at least half of the women on G Unit have turned a trick, danced, or used their looks to con someone out of money. They need the money to feed their kids or get a fix. Now they’re stuck in here, young and horny, hittin’ on each other, gay for the stay, straight at the gate, yee-op.” She looked at herself in the window. She had the enviable kind of hair that comes with a mix of Native blood. She had one of those bodies that could have been honed into an Olympian. She turned side to side, “How come no one’s hittin’ on this? Huh? I’m not gay, but I’d like to be asked to the dance.”

We looked at ourselves in the green window, side by side, the athlete and the hausfrau. It felt so good to laugh, really laugh.

I turned to her. “I think my daughters would like you, and I know they’d like to know I had someone I could laugh with.”

Hippie Chick’s tears welled up again and looked at me unashamed. “I heard one of the Old Timers in the kitchen say, there are no friends in prison. But I would really like a friend.”

“I would like that too,” I said, now letting a few of my own tears leak over the brim. Then we both laughed. I felt a little stronger. “I’m countin’ on those guns.”

Hippie Chick My First Friend