Do you know what I’ve discovered? Netflix! No, that’s not entirely correct. After binge-watching TV until Netflix imploded on the last episode (“Noooooooo—damn you, Netflix—curses!), I’ve discovered: Orange Is The New Black. Wait a minute; that’s not exactly what I’m trying to say, either. What I want to say is: “I’ve discovered the delicious ability to pig out—gorge, if you will—on back-to-back episodes of a show I’ve become obsessed with that is based on the true story of Piper Kerman (Piper Chapman in the TV show), the young, WASPy, naïve, graduate from Smith College (Class of ’92) who made a bad choice in her youth that came back to bite her in the ass as an adult when she least expected it.
Promotional Image from “Orange is the New Black”|Netflix
Those of you who are Star Trek fans, the red-headed actress (Kate Mulgrew) on the left was Star Trek Voyager Captain Kathryn Janeway who now plays the unforgettable character “Red” in OITNB
I love OITNB—it is my new obsession! (Warning: this TV series is not for the easily offended, the mercy/grace challenged, or those who have trouble having an occasional vagina shoved in their faces or even saying the word without choking.) The show is brilliantly written and acted, and it deals with an aspect of free will that I’ve often thought about regarding my own life. What if you made a stupid choice in your early twenties and thought you had escaped its ramifications and subsequently built a perfect life—leaving the past in the dust? However, ten years later (relaxing in your pajamas while working from home at an awesome job in your gorgeous apartment shared with the love of your life) two federal agents knocked on your door and charged you with a crime that would net you a prison sentence of fifteen months—thus blowing your perfect little life to smithereens.
When we’re young we think we’re invincible and infallible. Pretty much everything is a thrill, and we have no idea that karma is a bitch and her arms are long-reaching. I’ve often fanaticized that if God gave me an opportunity to have magic powers, I would choose to be a super hero that had the ability to “interfere” in the lives of others—especially adolescents—before they made life-altering choices.
I’d have a calling similar to Iyanla Vanzant’s, “Iyanla Fix My Life,” only my magic ministry would be called “Eleanor Save My Ass” (ESMA). I’d look pretty much like I do now—a slightly chunky bejeweled diva, dressed in flowing diva gowns, and wielding a diamond encrusted fly swatter. At a perfect time in a teenager’s life that was best known only to God and me, I’d swoop down (Superman’s power of flight would be a given) right before the teen would choose that one thing that could change the course of his or her destiny to their detriment. I’d swat the devil on the teenager’s back upside his head until I woke the adolescent up to respond to the voice of reason. I bet that parents here, there, and everywhere would be lined up at my door willing to pay big bucks for my services. (Nothing has proved scarier to me in my lifetime—including being raised a poor black child in the ghetto—than rearing upper middle class adolescents in the suburbs with a free will and access to the family car.)
Used by permission: Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune
My services would work on adult clients, as well. Although, I must admit my ESMA influence might be a little harder (difficult to teach old dogs new tricks) once my clients were past thirty years old. But I would try my best. Think of the potential difference I could have made in the lives of our most recent “poor-choice idiots.” Had I popped down into the lives of three particular gentlemen ten years ago and done a little triple-edged swatting, all our psyches would have been spared a great deal of mental vomit and disappointment.
Used by permission: Rick McKee |The Augusta Chronicle
The first time Anthony Weiner had his “Carlos Danger” fantasy I would have slide down the fire pole in his brain and screamed: “ANTHONY—DROP IT! DROP THAT WIENERSCHNITZEL! This is your guardian angel, ET, and I’m here to save your ass (actually, a little more than your ass). Drop the camera and back away from your drawers. Let’s take a little ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ journey into the future so that you can see firsthand (no pun intended) how your wiener choice today will fuck up your life tomorrow. Trust me—no matter how cute you think your ‘one-eyed monster’ is nobody wants to see that thing pop up on their cell phones in the future.”
Used by permission: John Darkow Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri
EMSA note to my main man, General Colin Powell: Colin, Colin, Colin—please say it isn’t true! Today all the news outlets are reporting some nasty-ass creature has hacked your emails that implicate you in an alleged affair with the Romanian diplomat, Corina Cretu. You’re insisting that there was no affair then or now. I want to believe you, but I’ve just barely gotten over the fabrication of Iraq having WMD’s that got us involved in a fruitless war, so forgive me if I’m a little shaken up by this new reveal about your judgment. Colin, my man, if I could swoop down on you with my EMSA swat ten years ago, I would whack you upside the head and command you to pull the plug on any interchanges with this Romanian woman because:
She is from Romania and even my cat could tell she was most likely a spy trying to gain access to national secrets through your “frankfurter.” Ten years ago, every 1.2 people were spies in Romania.
Any woman who sends a married man pictures of herself in a bikini (by the way, from what I’ve seen, that is not a body that one commits adultery over—just sayin’!) is up to no good (why are men so clueless about this shit?).
When a woman’s emails to you allegedly say: “I did not believe that at 43 I can cry more for a man like a teenager . . . Nobody (is) saying to go to bed. . . I just want to see you, nothing more . . . “I’ve loved you too much, too many years. YOU were my greatest love of my life . . .,” what did you think she was talking about, General—the Second Coming?
I sure hope you told your wife about this woman’s crush on you when it first began. My advice to you ten years ago would have been: (SWAT!) “Tell your wife about this hussy, (SWAT!) and then run, Colin, run, because ten years from now, any relationship with Corina Cretu—no matter how benign on your part—is going to come back and bite you in your proverbial black ass!” (SWAT!)
(Sheesh, Louise, CP! No wonder you got screwed up on the existence of WMD’s in Iraq.)
Used by permission: Mike Lane, Cagle Cartoons
But there are some people who are incorrigible and can’t be helped. For whatever reason (laziness, over-blown egos, or stupidity), they keep on doing the same thing over and over again, no matter what the consequences. I’d pop back in time to try and help someone like Bob Filner (Mayor of San Diego) and the dude would probably think I was there as an answer to his prayers to get a little taste of “brown sugar.” He’d keep on touching, pinching, and groping, until I shoved all his fingers up his ass. Some people make so many bad choices that the sum of those bad choices equal one dirty, disgusting old man. When that is the case, it is best to throw him in solitary confinement and throw away the key.
Used by permission: Randall Enos, Cagle Cartoons
I am discovering that there are many reasons why I like Orange Is The New Black. Without giving anything away, when Netflix got back on track after two service calls to them and Samsung, the final episode revealed what I had suspected all along about humanity within that TV prison of a couple haves and many have nots: we are all one bad choice away from creating Hell on Earth for ourselves (no matter what the race, the gender, the income level, or the sexuality), and our hope lies in the “amazing grace” that affords our blind eyes the ability to overcome and survive the decade(s)-long consequences of our unfortunate choices.
I’m also discovering that there needs to be at least two EMSA agencies because I need one to smack me upside my head every once and awhile, as well. I suspect I’ll need that type of course-correction until the day I die. I am prone to the poor-choice disease as much as any of my countrymen. I can’t tell you how many times, in my youth especially, when I was one car theft away from prison (“I was just along for the ride with my boyfriend” doesn’t cut it with the Po-Po or the judge), one physical altercation away from murder (being an abused child with anger issues is no excuse), and one bad church choice away from being engulfed by a cult (refusing to see the handwriting on the wall of church leaders becoming too authoritarian and misogynistic is cowardice not loyalty). As the collection of OITNB episodes reveal, we are all the same when it comes to being vulnerable to making poor choices that affect the sum of our being.
EMSA “freebie” to Anthony Weiner/August 2013: Quit the race! Take your hands out of your pants, put the camera down, walk away from the seductive siren of being Mayor of New York, and go into seclusion with your wife and child (bludgeon all your computers and phones with a sledge hammer and determine to be the only person in the world who refuses to trust himself with a cell phone). Then spend the next twenty years or so choosing only those things that are supportive of your wife and protective of your son. This advice is free. If you take it, ten years from now, by the grace of God, you just could be someone your son might be proud to call his dad—then again, maybe not! It’s your choice!
Used by permission: Christopher Weyant, The Hill
“There are three constants in life… change, choice, and principles.”—Stephen Covey
“We need to teach the next generation of children from day one that they are responsible for their lives. Mankind’s greatest gift, also its greatest curse, is that we have free choice. We can make our choices built from love or from fear.”—Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
“Your Honor, more than a decade ago I made bad decisions, on both a practical and a moral level. I acted selfishly, without regard for others. I am prepared to face the consequences of my actions and accept whatever punishment the court decides upon. I am truly sorry for all the harm I have caused to others.”—Piper Kerman from Drug Trafficking – Woman Sentenced to Prison – Marie Claire
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.