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Best Pickup Line of All Time: "He's in Jail."

Updated on March 24, 2016
Claire Heliot, famous tamer of real lions.
Claire Heliot, famous tamer of real lions. | Source

The Lion Tamer

I always preface my relationship stories with, "I sure know how to pick 'em!"

No matter how carefully I consciously choose someone "different this time," they turn out the same. It's not because I pick the same "kind." I've had army officers and criminals; academics and activists. It's not me choosing a "type," it's my supernatural ability to choose people with that same little broken part down deep inside, the part they are afraid to show anyone else. Something makes them show me that black rot. Some of them do it right away, some of them keep it hidden for a long time. It's not always in the same place; the reasons for it are numerous. After they show me, I feel their pain and I understand it but I can't take it away from them. I can't fix them, but I won't judge them.

My ex husband is in jail for domestic violence against me, just about at the end of a 6-month sentence for doing a lot of relatively minor stuff that was escalating into "Genuinely Disturbing and Downright Scary" Territory. I had to kick him out when he refused to get help for a wicked painkiller addiction and a mental illness that had him insisting he was deploying with the army to Africa to build ebola clinics. He left our family destitute and orchestrated our eviction. And that was just the stuff he didn't go to jail for. His trial was finally over on April 15. Finally over and done. No more court dates. The divorce was final a couple weeks before that. I could move on.

And then, about a year ago, my friend allegedly shot someone. I have no idea whether he shot someone or someone else shot a third somebody. All I know is that my friend - my lover and sometimes boyfriend - now had an online profile at the county jail and his mugshot all over the news. It was incredibly painful to see his mugshot; one shoulder was a little higher than the other, so I knew a deputy was holding his arm, his hands most likely handcuffed behind him. He had that look I know so well, the one he gets when he's crushed by stress and ready to give up; as a previous offender, he had that look often. They had already taken all his piercings out. Piercings he never removes.

So then it begins. The "Did You See??" calls from the friends ballsy enough to ask. The "Did You Know??" calls about his prior arrests. But no calls from him, because he only knows his mom's number by heart. So you think and try to work out what happened from the 20 lines of the news report. Two men. Altercation. Woman involved. Shooting.

The only thing I cared about during those six months my husband was in jail was that I didn't want him to get out. I kept having to see him in the courtroom and it was scary and painful and I hated him and what he did to our lives. And until the bitter end, he never saw anything wrong with anything he did to us. He didn't care that he hadn't paid the electricity bill for 6 months, his son sobbing from fear when the electric company came to turn off the power. He didn't care - in fact he was quite proud - of his trick that had all of us, including his 10-year-old son, evicted from his home. He saw nothing wrong with telling his son that Daddy is going to Africa and might not come home, because he could die of ebola.

I was ready to be done with even thinking about my husband and then my friend - allegedly (that ridiculous word) - shot someone at a gas station.

My friend called me a week later. He called me four times a day because he wants out, but his bail is astronomical. His bail is so far to Jupiter that no one can possibly pay it. The bail bondsman needs a house in addition to the bond. And I learned something: You lose the bond. If your bond is a million dollars, you have to come up with that 10% $100,000 cash bond that you never get back. Ever. And if your guy runs, then prepare to pull one million dollars out of every pore of your worthless ass and probably also lose something you love or live in.

I saw my friend in court, but I didn't hate him. It hurt, but I didn't hate him. The bailiff told us, before they brought in the prisoners, to not make so much as prolonged eye contact with an inmate or you will be removed from the courtroom. So no possibility of knowledge there. Public defender appointed. All knowledge withheld.

And at the jail, it's not like on TV where you sit with a thick slab of glass between you. No, it's a video screen and a phone, you're not in the same building, and you can't talk about anything. Not won't but can't. Not out of embarrassment but because everyone tells you not to. Say nothing. Don't guess. Don't assume. And whatever else you may do, never voice any assumptions while you're in video visitation or on the phone from the jail, no matter how bad your inmate looks, no matter how low they are in detox, no matter how bad they may sound, NO MATTER WHAT.

Video visitation: Better than nothing but still really awful.
Video visitation: Better than nothing but still really awful.

Imagine MY Surprise

But back to picking up guys.

As I said, these last few months have been really, really terrible. In October 2014, I lost my life. I had to file for divorce to get the restraining order that I desperately needed to protect my family against my husband's increasingly bizarre and unpredictable behavior. My husband's mental illness and raging addiction terrified, then finally broke, me. I had to go on food stamps, welfare and Medicaid for the first time in my life, while dealing with a husband thinking I left him not because he pretended to go to work every day for two months or that he wasn't actually being recruited to work at the International Space Station in Belgium, but because I obviously wanted to marry another man.

This was bad enough; I couldn't fathom the whole new frontier of insanity awaiting me in the form of single, middle-aged fathers overwhelmed with parenting the children they made with women they now despise.

Men think that because my ex husband did me extra dirty, I am ready to plunge into the icy waters of dating. Actually, they don't even care if I'm ready. They want it, so they're making an offer to buy. What they don't know is that my friend (lover, quasi-boyfriend) is the only man I can look at without wanting to claw his eyes out.

The more stressed I am, the more pathetic, the more I back off? That's when they think sex will make everything better. And if they're super aggressive and persistent, I'll totally give in. Because what a recent victim of domestic violence really wants is a guy who won't take "no" for an answer.

They try to soften their approach while still being uber sex-offenderish. They use the word "play" for "sex." Uh ... I still have a kid in elementary school, the last thing I want to think about in relation to sex is "playtime." They say they want to go out for beer. Yeah, I learned those tricks in college, try again. And no, I'm not going to send you pictures of my boobs.

I'm also not ready to be a stepmom just because you have a difficult work schedule and need an ally in the battle against your ex-wife.

But last week, Obnoxious became man, put on pants and is in my face with a sleazy smile every time I open my mouth. "Jail" is apparently a magical term that translates as, "The woman is easy and the guy is locked away where he's not going to cause you any trouble for messing with his woman." Jail, the place where women with loose morals and a looser grasp on intellect send their men. After uttering "jail," there's not even any build up to going full-on creep. What they don't understand is that because my friend has most likely done something so horrible, and because he has a long felony record, that he won't get out of jail for decades. He's not dead, but I may never have physical contact with him ever again, not even to hold his hand. He's not dead, but my heart hurts just like if he had died.

Two days ago, I had to call my friend's landlord. Within about a minute and a half, he asked me to send "sexy photos," in exchange for a phone number I needed. After I said I just wasn't ready (but was ready to report him as a sex offender), he said it was just for "beers and play." This is after an entire week of warding off guys intent on taking care of me and giving me a relationship that I "deserve" because if my friend is in jail, he obviously wasn't "taking care of me." Guys who blessedly left me alone through my divorce lost all civility upon hearing my friend was in jail. A mutual friend even offered to "steal me away" and be the muscle in my male-less life.

So ladies, this is my advice: If you really need to get laid, pretend your man is in prison. Put on a dejected but kind face and go out and ask for help. Make the charges against your imaginary friend really serious, like attempted murder, so your target assumes your guy will be away for a long time. You will have them crawling all over you like flies. Trust me, it brings out the virile hero-cum-villain in them all.

How did your significant other's friends act when you told them he was in jail, possibly for a really long time?

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© 2015 Carrie Peterson


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