Getting to Know You

Shortly after moving in, my new cellmate suggested we play a game. Every day, we agreed to share one interesting thing about ourselves to get to know each other.

Round one: Bo tells me about the cat he had growing up named Mr. Bill, and I tell him about my cat, Polpette (POO-pet), Italian for “meatball.”

Round two: Bo shows me pictures of his family. At 49 years, he is the oldest of two siblings, a brother and sister. They live in Arkansas while his mother and step-father live in Oregon. In exchange, I showed him pictures of my parents and older brother who live in Texas.

Round three: Bo tells me he’s gay.

To be honest, I had my suspicions, but it wasn’t because of mannerisms or appearance. There is little about Bo that you could point to and call effeminine. He has a stocky yet strong body with tattoos, a shaved head, graying facial hair, and gray eyes that make you feel uncomfortable if you star at them for too long. The only thing dainty about Bo are his size eight feet.

What made me suspicious was the speed with which he asked to be my cellmate – it hadn’t been more than ten minutes after Voodoo’s belongings were packed when Bo had come knocking at my door. This was especially odd considering I have virtually no ties with any of the white people in my unit, and many of them, I suspect, have doubts about the legitimacy of my charge. Now, suddenly there’s a white guy at my door who’s anxious to live with me?

There was also Bo’s habit of parading around in his underwear. During the first few nights of living together, I’d get up to turn the lights off and see him lying in his bed, smiling, clad only in boxer briefs and looking like some bloated siren calling to me.

I wondered if Bo’s motive for moving in wasn’t sexual.

It didn’t take long to find out. The day after he outed himself, we were lying in our bunks when he sighed heavily and said, “I would really love to suck your dick right now, but I’m too tired, and the door is unlocked.”

He said it with such conviction, but I thought surely it was a joke. “Are you shitting me?” I asked staring down at him from my bed. His exposed belly was red and sunburned, the color of a boiled lobster.

“No. Does that bother you?” he asked without a hint of bashfulness.

“Well, no, but it won’t be happening,” I stammered.

We never spoke of it again, and the learn-more-about-each-other game was abruptly abandoned.

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