My birthday was last week and it got me wondering. Do you think they sing Happy Birthday in prison?
No. No, they don't. Unless you're a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, it usually behooves you to keep as low a profile as possible while doing time, which means that you don't go around shouting, "Hey everyone, I turned 26 today!" You know what your birthday present will be if you do that? A SHIV TO THE RECTUM. You don't want to stand out in there for any reason at all. In fact, I bet many a vengeful prison guard has walked by a cell and screamed out "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, VINNY!" just to get a guy beaten to death in the yard. That happens way more often than a kind-hearted guard passing you a bottle of keistered hooch and whispering a quiet, "Happy Birthday, old Bonesaw" to you without anyone noticing. That hooch ... oh, how it tasted so good when it hit your tongue!
I bet the average prisoner celebrates his birthday with a visit from his wife or girlfriend. He walks into the visitation room and sits down. He sees his wife on the other side of the glass and picks up the phone. And she says, "Happy birthday, baby." And he mouths a quiet "Thank you" in reply. And she tells him about how she made him toffee chip cookies but that the guards wouldn't let him have the cookies because they worry she might have secreted contraband in them. But he tells his wife, "That's okay, baby." And then the wife starts talking about the kids. "Oh, little Johnny is growing up so fast! He hit three home runs last week. He's the spitting image of you!" And then she finally breaks down in tears and says, "OH LORD, I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE. IT HURTS TOO MUCH TO SEE YOU CAGED IN HERE LIKE AN ANIMAL." And then he's like, "Calm down. I got a real good lawyer and he says I can get outta here soon. I love you so much, baby." And then the prison guard cuts him off, and then he gets angry at the guard for ruining the ONE tender moment he had with his wife in months, perhaps years. And then the guard beats him with a nightstick right in front of the missus as she begs for him to stop.
That's probably your average prison birthday. Now, to the Funbag below!
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin and Gawker. He's also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at email@example.com. You can also order Drew's new book, "Someone Could Get Hurt," through his homepage.