[by New York State prison inmate Jon Fontaine]
With so little to do behind bars, some inmates gamble for fun. They gamble on almost anything – pro sports, chess, checkers, Dominoes, Scrabble, inmate-on-inmate fights, award shows, and card games.
I don’t gamble on anything. But I’ll watch the outcome of a really interesting bet.
One boring Saturday, I was playing cards with two other guys, Mike and Jordan, and they bickered endlessly about what to gamble.
One wanted to wager cakes off meal trays, known as “tray cakes.”
“No, I don’t want to give up my cakes.”
“If I win, what do I get from watching you do pushups?”
The old man.
Jordan threw out an offer. Loser had to shave the top of his head to look like an old man. Saturdays are hair cut days, the same day we were playing. The loser would lose his hair right then.
I was at the head of the table, Mike to my left, Jordan to my right.
“This is great!” I said. “I win either way!”
The game was tense. And in the end, there was no question – fitness-freak Mike, known for being cocky, lost.
“I hope this is a humbling experience,” I told him. “Maybe you’ll learn not to gamble.”
A few minutes later, Mike looked like an old man.
Then, Sunday came.
Whenever Mike said something to me, I responded with, “I can’t even take you seriously right now with that hair cut.”
Jordan, confident he could win again, offered Mike another bet: “If you win in Rummy, I’ll get the old man. If I win, you give me a bag of coffee.”
A bag of just three ounces of instant coffee costs a whopping $5 on commissary. Cocky as always, Mike took the bet.
An hour later, Jordan won again.
Mike was so pissed. Jordan sensed another opportunity. He offered Mike another bet: “You win and you don’t have to get me a bag of coffee, and I’ll get the old man. I win, and you owe me a second bag of coffee.”
But Jordan’s luck ran out.
“That’s what you get for being greedy!” I told him.
Not only did he lose the bag of coffee, he lost his hair.
Both hoped they didn’t have to go anywhere (visits, court, medical…).
Neither learned a lesson, despite being laughed at by just about everyone who came in the unit, inmate or civilian. They haven’t stopped gambling with each other. I sit at the table, Mike to my left, Jordan on my right, thinking about how they look like a peanut M&M that’s been bitten in half, their bare skulls the nut stuck in a bowl of chocolate.
It’s Dumb and Dumber Jail Edition.
Now, they’re wagering eyebrows.
[New York State prison inmate Jon Fontaine is temporarily in the Monroe County Jail awaiting a hearing that Monroe County Court Judge Vincent Dinolfo illegally denied him five years ago.]
Also published on Medium.