But then I decided to look on the bright side! I had a whole week of nights to myself! I could watch whatever the heck I wanted! I could paint my nails in front of the T.V because lover man would not be there to complain about the stink! I could buy the chocolate with the jelly bits and the cookie chunks in it, without being told how unhealthy and 'far too sweet' it is! And of course I could sleep in a diagonal starfish position.
I settled down with the complete first season of Orange is the New Black. The true(ish) story of one woman's experience in prison. Piper Chapman is a pretty, blonde girl from a well-to-do family who gets indited on drug smuggling charges - a crime she committed some 8 years ago at the request of her then girlfriend. She has to leave her fiancé Larry and her nice peaceful life and head off to jail for a year!
I know what you're thinking. That would suck. And at first I totally agreed, it would suck. For the first five episodes of season one, I was obsessed with just how much it would indeed suck. Piper gets bullied. She attracts a freaky stalker by the name of 'Crazy-Eyes' who decides that Piper is to be her prison wife. But, after a while, I got to thinking. This show kinda makes prison look much much easier than being a stay at home mother of two high energy little boys!
Why? Well firstly, these girls get to take a shower! All be it, a communal shower and they need to wear jandals to avoid getting foot fungus, but still they get to shower. When my youngest was born I was lucky if I showered once a week! Between meeting the demands of the then 3 year old and feed/change/feeding the baby, showering just seemed like a lot of work. Pointless work, because inevitably I'd just get shat on immediately afterwards. I recall going for at least four days with out showering once, when the Lover-Man sniffed me and told me it was time. I politely handed him the baby and the remote control and went to scrub off the film of filth that had crusted on my skin. When I returned 20 minutes later (it takes a while to clean oneself when one has left it so long) he looked at me ashen faced and muttered, "I see why you don't shower. These two are insane."
These days I still don't even get to take a definite daily shower, for fear that my kids will a) kill each other whilst I am out of the room b) Catch and kill the cat or C) burn down the house. I could in theory shower before they wake up, but fucked if I am setting my alarm at 5am just to beat them to the punch! Those buggers rise with the sun!
Sometimes I do manage to sneak away while they are both immersed in cartoons. But I shower swiftly, with the fear of death in my heart, ears like a cat, listening for any screams of pain or distress, in which case I must jump out and sprint up the stairs sopping wet, to break up the attempted murder. Some times the little buggers notice I have gone and come and find me. If they don't strip naked to get in with me they like to play the "let's lick the toilet" game or the "let's jump on the bed and try to die" game. Showering in a communal bathroom in prison, looks like a fucking vacation.
Secondly, in prison they get their food cooked for them. I hate cooking dinner. I hate it more than any job on the list. Don't get me wrong, I love cooking! love it! I love cooking delicious meals. I like cooking exotic stirfries and delicious curries. But do you think my kids would eat that stuff? Hell no! I have been limited to meat and three veg for the last 6 years. If I ever have to look at another sausage of fish finger again I may just have a seizure. Every night it is the same thing. Mum we're hungry! When is dinner? For God'd sake! I fed you last night. Isn't that enough? Why must they want dinner every single night? And do you think that considering they're hungry, that they'd actually let me cook right? Wrong! They climb me, they winge, they ask for snacks and they try to kill each other under my feet.
Having my food cooked for me, three meals a day, would be a fucking treat. Hell, I'd knife someone for that alone! (not really).
Thirdly, they get to sleep alone. I love my lover-man. He is nice. But he tosses in the bed like a possessed parkinsons patient. If it's not him disturbing my sleep, it's Cheesecake the fat Burmese cat who likes to hump my face in the night, the five year old who wakes each night from bad dreams or the two year old who wakes at three, then begs to sleep with us, but then just burrows under the covers like a rabid mole instead. Sleeping alone, all be it in a single, piss stained bed, makes prison look like a spa.
Fourth on the list: The Orange girls get to hang out with other adults. God I miss adult conversation! There is only so much talk of Thomas the Tank Engine one can take! When my eldest was a newborn Sarah Bradley, the host of Good Morning (NZ) was my best friend. Some days she was the only adult I saw all day other than the Lover-Man. It was a lonely time, but Sarah made it a little less so. Sarah would chat to me (via T.V) about all kinds of things. She taught me how to cook and how to craft. She was my bestie. She kept me sane. I actually saw her at Avalon studios once (when my eldest was older and I was able to leave the house and do some film work). I was sitting in the make-up chair getting dolled up when she walked in. I almost fell off my chair! I was so excited to see her. I almost called out to her "Sarah! It's me! Remember, your best friend! How are you!" It seriously took all of my mental capacity to remember she didn't actually know me and that to hug a total stranger only makes one look insane. Orange makes prison look like a fucking pizza party! Way more social than stay at home parenting.
Finally and most importantly, solitary confinement. That is not a punishment. I would pay good money to be left the fuck alone. Imagine it. No one climbing me. No one asking me stupid questions, repeatedly. No one nagging me about why they can't have their toy back, even though they just branded said toy at their brother's face. Oh to be left alone!
Of course there would be downsides too. Having to hang out with criminals would not be so fun, it could even be a little scary. Unless, like Piper Chapman, you realise that even criminals aren't all bad. Sure they have done bad things, that's why they are in jail. But one bad thing doesn't make you a bad person. One drop of bad blood doesn't make every inch of you tainted. Things are not quite that black and white. Think of Ying and Yang. There is light in the darkness and darkness in the light.
But realistically I would not want to go to prison. I am pretty sure that Orange is the New Black, whilst realistic in a lot of ways, probably makes prison more appealing than it really is. Truth be told? As much as my boys drive me insane, they make me 10 times as happy. And if I didn't get to see their gorgeous little faces everyday and hear them say things like "poo" and laugh hysterically, it would break my heart.
After a week without the Lover-Man I was surprised that I had survived. The boys and I got on with things and did not even argue, much. And more importantly I devoured my way through two whole seasons of Orange! Damn it's good. Can't wait for season three! I'll have to read the book in the meantime.