34 | “No more flirting!”

June 10, 2008
Tuesday, 4:00 p.m.
Letter #34: “No more flirting!”


Dear Family,

Greetings from beautiful B-yard at Salinas Valley! I’m so blessed right now—I just got off of orientation status, spent a couple hours in the sun on the yard, and I’m about to go to chow hall for the first time! It is so vastly different than Delano—in virtually every conceivable way—so I’m happy.

A couple of highlights:

Before breakfast, I was called over to medical. The C.O. at medical, a tall, stern-faced black cop named Holland, pulled me aside to tell me I needed to walk with my hands behind my back … just until I’m off orientation. Umm … okay.

I was put into a holding cell, waiting my turn at medical—for two hours. They brought us breakfast at medical. I tore a cardboard tray that was covering my food to make a “spoon,” prison-style.

When I was finally called for a dental exam, I had to take five steps to get to the nurse. C.O. Holland barked at me to put my hands behind my back, which I did. (I hadn’t done so, because I was carrying my lunch sack, and I didn’t want it to appear I was hiding something behind my back.) After my good-news dental visit (they will call me back for full X-rays and see what can be done to help my lower teeth), I walked—hands behind my back—to the holding cell. I was popped back out, then, for a medical exam.

More good news (I’ve lost 25 pounds, blood pressure is 121/77, no tuberculosis, etc.), and I got a bit of bad news: the nurse, while giving me a really basic check up, noticed that I supposedly have a perforated eardrum in one ear. I bet Brian can guess which ear it is.  🙂  Remember our fun little “stage slap” where we try to have people guess how we make your slapping my face look so realistic? Yeah, you just haul off and slap me a good one, then another, saying, “Well, we couldn’t figure out a better way of making it look realistic than by actually slapping.” Yeah, funny.

Remember the Chetta family in Georgia? Performing the stunt for them cost me my left ear’s hearing for a month. I banned you from slapping me for a year … then it happened again. I guess the damage is permanent.  🙁  They’re going to see if anything can be done, but they doubt it. Oh, well.  🙂  “Huh?” Now I have an excuse when I’m married.

Well, I was explaining all of this to the nice older lady nurse who had asked how my eardrum got damaged. I sorta gave her the short version, but I happened to also throw in my “slow jump” (levitation simulation) and upon her insistence, showed her how I did it. Unfortunately, C.O. Holland saw, too, and called me over, took me outside, put me against the fence and had a little chat with me about “fraternizing” and becoming “overly familiar” with the female staff.

After my exam, he let me back outside but told the other notably irritated C.O.—the woman, Holcomb—that she should “watch out for this guy.”

“I know, I’ve already escorted him twice,” she replied (she was one who’d asked me why I was smiling but was rude to me while escorting me to my visit).

“Yeah, but he’s flirting with the women staff,” Holland lied.

“Not on my watch!” she reassured him.

Great. I’m starting off beautifully here, flirting with the women in their 50s. Lovely.

Well, I made it just fine through assignment/orientation committee. They’re all impressed with my academic skills and say I should write a request to education to help teach. I’d like to teach music here, but I may have to wait a year to do it, since many “elective” type activities take place in the evenings and I’ll be confined to my room after dinner each night for a year. No biggie!

At last I’m in my “blues” and can have REAL visits! (No worries if you guys can’t make it here for a while—I’m just grateful we’ll eventually be able to visit for a while at a time, hug, and hold hands! Yippee!!)

On the yard for the first time, I played basketball—five guys playing “21.” I didn’t realize the other four were on the best team here. I stole the ball from two of them and out-rebounded two others. They asked me to be on their team, but I’d already told someone else I’d be on his team. I also joined a softball team.

One of the biggest differences here from county or Delano? Everyone’s friendlier. It’s because they know they’re gonna keep seeing you, day after day. So, I got some sun, got my clothes, and I’m ready for chapel services (hopefully at 1:00 p.m. Wednesdays)!

I love you all! Thank you for your prayers!

Love always,