The Ice Cream Story
Ice cream here is not a luxury, it is non-existent. So being sans ice cream for nearly a decade it became something for me that I forgot to miss. But one day, several weeks ago, to my shock we were greeted with entire individual pints of high end gourmet ice cream. Waiting in line at the chow hall every one of our trays was more than half taken up by this frozen dessert.
Now prison has made me skeptical, even cynical at times about the benevolence of institutions or the goodness of human nature for that matter. So when a gift horse such as this is given, I look it straight in its mouth and every other proverbial orifice possible. As others were shoveling spoonfulls of frozen paradise into their gullets, I was far more cautious. Carefully I read the label searching out ingredients like Jonestown Kool-Aid or Soylent Green. "Soylent Green is people!" is something I occasionally shout in the chow hall when we are served unidentifiable food. No one laughs.
Slowly I opened the pint top. It wasn't expired nor freezer burnt. With our time to eat quickly running out, I too ran out of reasons not to partake in the glorious decadence. So I too shoveled.
The flavor, the texture, the icy coldness on a hot summer afternoon; it was all too overwhelming for my senses. Peanut butter cup mixed with caramel set in a creamy vanilla base. The type of ice cream one would pay an hours salary for in the world is what I will be talking about for the next year in here.
So with all of that goodness ingested I contently went back to my cell. But still lingering in the recesses of my mind was one question - why? Why the kindness? Nothing here is kind. It wasn't long before the why was answered.
You see, prisons by their nature are tough places. Constant assaults, periodic murders and ever present devaluing of basic human rights - it's a recipe that when put together would taste the opposite of ice cream. But sometimes the system adds too much spice to the mix and they go overboard with their cruelty.
Such has been the case here the last several years. When that happens Federal oversight comes into play. But when you know the boss is coming into the office, all the figurative silver gets polished and all the figurative smiles get slapped on. That's the ruse they pulled here. It was inspection time. The cops were examining cops. And what better way to show happy and vibrant prisoners than to sate them with giant tubs of creamy sugar.
Yeah, they fell for it. And so did we. The saddest part about it is we would happily fall for it again if ever we were blessed with more treats.
Western Ill. C.C.