But nope. It's really Sling Blade.
For those of you who do not know what Sling Blade is, stop reading this now. OK, not right now but at the end of this paragraph. Go to YouTube or some other movie or sound clip Web site and do a search for my man Billy Bob Thornton performing the iconic role. In fact, here's a link. Otherwise it would be impossible for you to understand why I say I've got the worst luck in the cellmate lottery imaginable.
For those of you who do know the significance of the phrase "french fried potaters," it was last night when a guard came to my door delivering a warning that a new roommate was on the way. "A young guy," the cop said, "Real quiet. No problem."
And sure enough, the jingle of keys and shackles echoed down the hallway as my no-problem of a celly was being led down to the cell. I went to the door to catch the first glimpse of the man who's going to be eating, sleeping and (hopefully) showering within a distance measured in inches from me. And there he was ... Sling Blade.
6'3", 230 pounds or so and baby-faced in a deranged sort of way. Chin resting firmly on his chest, his eyes darted from left to right as if he was trying to make sure one of his nipples didn't dropkick the other.
This same magnetic force which was forcing his head to droop like a sack of wet puppies apparently had the same effect on his lower lip, which jutted out at an absolutely cartoonish angle.
The door opens, Sling Blade shuffles in without desisting for a moment the dedicated supervision of his breasts. He begins to make his bed. To get out of the man's way, I return to my bottom bunk and resume the so-so Jeffery Deaver novel I'd been working on. It was not a good omen of what was to come when the 5-minute job of making a bed turned into a 45-minute operation with a disturbing amount of grunting involved. And after the project had been completed, apparently to satisfaction, I noticed as I went to get a cup of water that the top bunk looked like Bush had just declared the end of major combat operations in it.
To initiate what would be the first of many meaningful and philosophical conversations between us, it was time for introduction.
Me: People call me Smitty. What's your name, homeboy?This is the best reproduction of what my roomy actually said in that grainy, guttural, tortured voice of his that I can come up with.
Sling Blade: Grfminomn Ingoblirnm.
Me: I couldn't hear you, one more time.The kid's name is actually Glutton. Is this some sort of bizarre ritual where he's from which involves bringing a kid a plate full of paint chips, then naming him Glutton if he eats them?
Sling Blade: Hrmnomny Andmbtg.
Me: Dude, I don't have a fucking clue what you're saying.
Sling Blade: Glutton Nickerson
Me: Right on, Glutton. So what are you in the hole for?To keep from laughing hysterically I decided to cut that night's bonding session short and return to the Deaver, at which time Glutton commenced to exercise in the corner. He begins with squats. I watch out of the corner of my eye as he does the reps while glaring at the wall with the fierce intensity and barely contained rage of a great white shark with rabies.
Sling Blade: Fightin'.
Me: Oh yeah, who did you get into a fight with?
Sling Blade: Cellmate
Me: Huh, OK. Why'd you fight him?
Sling Blade: Self-defense. He try to hit me. I fought him. He lost.
Me: That sucks, Glutton, I'm sorry to hear that.
Sling Blade: Hrm.
Like driving past a car wreck, there was no way not to stare with twisted fascination.
200 squats or so later Mr. Nickerson abandoned his workout to take a leak. Out of both curiosity and caution I peek over my book to watch every move. OK, business is complete. But instead of picking up one of the half-dozen toilet paper rolls stacked next to the sink to use for wiping the splashes from the toilet seat, my gem of a roomy uses his bare palm to wipe the splatters of piss. The insanity of what I had just seen made the fact that he didn't even bother washing his hand seem like not that big of a deal.
This was too much. There are certain lines of crazy shit which just shouldn't be crossed, and Glutton sailed past about a dozen of them. Sling Blade had to go.
So after some brainstorming on my part and some head-hanging on his, we eventually came up with a way to get him another place to live which will be put into action in just a little while.
Everyone has their own little pet peeves. When two men are forced to be in a room together 24 hours a day, it would be almost impossible not to get on each other's nerves at some point. But there are two characteristics which every convict should have: Clean and quiet. If everybody could just maintain an acceptable level of personal hygiene and keep their pie hole shut while they do so, life in the hole would be 100% better.
In fact, that is my new philosophy of life in general: Anyone around me whose mouth or body odor offends me is immediately going on Sling Blade status.