Prison Teachers Harsh Lessons Part Two

Prison Teachers Harsh Lessons Part Two Hookers

Prison Teachers Harsh Lessons Part Two


During the confinement of count time or lights dim, Mittens and I began to share our personal histories. It was like chess. Each of us placed a fact on the table and watched the other’s reaction. I told her about the accident and Tom. She wasn’t overly sympathetic. I was met with this reaction in nearly every telling of my story. Despite killing my husband and another woman in the car accident, the reaction to my crime was just the same old story. It didn’t feel that way to me. 

Prison Teachers Harsh Lessons Part Two

“I loved him,” I admitted, “but he scared me. He was a pretty, pretty man, a dead ringer for Sam Elliot, dimples and all. He was a wild, adorable lush. I didn’t say no. That was my fault. On the days my daughters were with their dad, I waded in to whatever extreme sport came up—boating, skiing, mountain climbing. I was the chick who hung out with the dudes. There was a lot of tailgating. All the guys smoked weed. We all drank.  My life was out of control.”

She was underwhelmed by my story

She sighed and shook her head. She was underwhelmed by my story. Mine was a suburban mom crime, a luxury crime of selfishness. I was not stealing to eat or hooking to buy groceries for my kids. But I was the opposite when she began to talk about her violent childhood. There was drug addiction and poverty. “My little brother and I use to put water on our cereal. Sometimes it was the only food in the house.” I pictured Nikki and Haley going to school hungry. How old was she?

“teach” about life in prison

Between sharing our stories, my new cellmate continued to pace and “teach” about life in prison. My next lesson was hookers. She shrugged her shoulders. “I take the money both on and off the stage.” Then she walked to the window and turned her attention to another woman. “See that one by the call-out board? Girl ain’t go no game. She thinks she’s all that, but she ain’t nothing but a flat backer.” She stayed at the window and kept looking at her, “I know God don’t like that blue eyeliner. Umph.” Then she walked back to my bunk and turned her pretty peepers at me, “Girl’s a mess, Kaaren.”

What’s a Flatbacker?

I laughed. “O.K., I’ll bite, what’s a flatbacker?”

Prison Teachers Harsh Lessons Part Two“Flatbacker is a hooker who actually has to lay down to get paid. Their last known address is the back seat of a Coupe de Ville behind the Waffle House. They hit the top of the skankometer. They do a quick P.T.A., that’s a pussy tits and ass in the sink at the Shell gas station between clients. There’s girls like me that dance. Sometimes I just go with someone to let them do what they do. One man pays me to watch him dress up in women’s clothes.”

I laughed and leaned forward. She was on a roll. “I’m good at it. I tell him, ‘Oh no! Those shoes are all wrong with that dress, you gotta start over, and wear the right bra and panty set.’”

And I thought I had held some odd jobs.

The Primo Hooker

“The primo hooker is the call girl, a top dolla ho. Call girls look down on corner girls. We have a call girl in the honor dorm. They call her Helen of Troy. One of her Johns was murdered, she was in the room, so she went down.

Prison Teachers Harsh Lessons Part Two
AKA Helen of Troy

She’s prime pussy, even pretty on prison. I’ll point her out at yard. Just watch her walk, all lady-like. Girl raise a jealous ruckus alright, make straight girls go gay and fighters see red.”

“Do you make a lot of money dancing and, you know, the other stuff?” I asked.

“Listen, not everyone’s meant for the game. Why should I wear some paper hat in stand in grease all day? I can make a whole day’s wages in ten minutes. Kaaren, your Tom? Girl, you ain’t falling in love with the right things.

Do you understand Unlimited Visa?

I know I’m gonna fall in love with a Bentley and a trip to the Poconos, and a pink diamond. Eat your heart out J-Lo. Do you understand Unlimited Visa?” She took up the pacing, checking her money-maker body in the mirror. “I don’t care if he’s Arabian, White, Native. If he’s got no teeth, I’d bake his cake and put it in the blender. I’ll just keep my jewelry and the Land Rover with the leather interior. That’s the truth. Ain’t no shame in the game.” She was theatrical but now she stopped before me and said very seriously, “When you grow up eating breakfast cereal with water, what cha gonna do?”

“I can’t imagine. You had to be pretty strong from the get-go, didn’t you?”

“I’m a survivor Kaaren.”

“I have never heard a story like yours, except on Oprah or in a book.”


“You’re a natural born storyteller.”

She liked that, looked at herself in the mirror.

You have a lot to teach a woman like me

“You have a lot to teach a woman like me. I’d like to write down some of the things you just said. Is that O.K.? I think I might write a book and let me tell you, you would be a star.”

“A book? Somebody gotta do that, OK?”

I reached for paper. “OK, let’s go back to the beginning, the hookers, then you said something like ‘why should I wear a paper hat and stand around in grease all day?’

Her hard life stories and lessons continued into the days and nights.  She encouraged me to write. She would even slow down and repeat things so I could get the direct quotes.  She did a good job of telling a lively story, but I could hear the hurt and disappointment in her life and the pride that covered up the damage. I felt the stirring of tenderness for this girl, but kept a watchful eye on those mittens.

Prison Teachers Harsh Lessons Part Two Hookers

Prison Teachers Harsh Lessons Part Two Hookers