I got caught up in one of Jacob’s imagination games the other day. This happens at some point every day, but this one was particularly informative. The game this time was jail. I’m not sure where he learned about the concept of jail, but since 90% of his knowledge is derived from Disney Jr. shows, it’s a relatively safe bet it came from somewhere on there. That being said, my money is on Sheriff Callie.
For those of you who are not familiar with Sheriff Callie’s Wild West, I’ll give you a quick synopsis. Callie is the sheriff of a small town in the Wild West called Nice and Friendly Corners. She is also a cat. The residents of the town are an assortment of animals and plants. A cactus and a skunk play key roles, among others. The cactus is named Toby. Toby's thorns are often employed as a plot device because they create a great deal of existential angst for Toby in situations that require playing with inflated balls or any type of physical contact with other creatures. Tom Brady is Toby's favorite professional athlete (I made that up, but, see what I did there?). The skunk is named Farmer Stinky. I feel like no further explanation is required.
Callie is an extremely competent and caring sheriff. She is assisted by a very eager, but often bumbling deputy named Deputy Peck. Deputy Peck is a woodpecker, hence the name Deputy Peck. Sound familiar at all? I agree, it is basically The Andy Griffith Show (TAGS). In fact, one episode of Sheriff Callie even hit all the plot points of a TAGS episode. In said episode, Sheriff Callie had to go out of town and Deputy Peck was left in charge as acting sheriff. Predictably, Peck's new found power rushed straight to his head and he locked up the entire town. Three singing chipmunks added editorial moralization, but otherwise it was a spot-on re-imagining of Season 1, Episode 20 of TAGS.
Yes, I agree, that was very interesting, but it’s not all that important to my story. Let’s try to stay focused. Where was I?
Oh yes, Jacob was making me play jail. The jail was the closet in our master bathroom. As is often the case when you get roped into Jacob’s games, it felt like a life sentence without parole in solitary confinement. It’s quite amazing how many of his games involve me standing by myself for significant periods of time with indefinite repetition in dark and often claustrophobic quarters. This game was no different; it was just more literal.
As always, I tried to talk my way out of it. As always, it didn’t work.
“But dude, I don’t support the concept of jails. I vehemently object to the prison-industrial complex,” I argued. I thought it was a fair point.
“I’m going to put you in jail!” Jacob replied with an ominous cackle. He then herded me into the closet and closed the door in my face.
He laughed again before opening the door a few seconds later.
“OK. Are we done now?"
Dumb question, but it was worth a shot.
“But seriously, I’m a vocal advocate of prison reform. And by vocal advocate I mean that Orange is the New Black is one of my favorite TV shows. (Even though I haven’t re-upped my Netflix subscription yet so I haven’t caught up with the new season. I am, however, planning on doing that soon.) I even follow Piper Kerman on Twitter and occasionally retweet some of her tweets.”
“I’m going to put you and Bennett in jail!” Bennett joined me and Jacob closed us in. At least I had a cell mate.
Jacob laughed again and left us a little longer this time. He was clearly playing mind games. After about a minute he opened the door.
“Great. Now we’re done, right?”
“Come on. I really do think you should take into consideration that I am, in fact, what you could call a prison abolitionist. The construct of jail isn’t just unpleasant for me; it cuts against everything I believe in. Do you have any idea how many people in America, particularly black men, are serving time on exorbitant sentences for non-violent crimes: destroying families, splintering communities, and perpetuating a vicious cycle of poverty and urban decay? I’m sure you can understand, this entire charade is quite painful for me.”
“I’m going to lock all of us in jail!” Jacob joined me and Bennett in the closet and closed the door behind him. I was left to contemplate in the pitch black: Was he on my side now? Was this some sort of high level symbolism––jailer joining captive in a selfless act of solidarity?
“Bennett is trying to bite me!”
I opened the door.
“OK. Let’s do something else now.”
“Nooo! I’m going to put you back in jail.”
“This really isn’t that fun, buddy. Why don’t we go play Mario Kart?”
“I want to be the red guy!!”
I got through to him.