Jailhouse Rock

"I haven't made out with anybody in 36 hours!"

"He's so cute!" she blurted. "Hey, my future ex-husband could be in that cell!"

A female staff member dropped by to ask if we needed anything of a medical nature. Unfortunately, she didn't mean elective pharmaceuticals, and could do nothing about our most immediate collective need -- for fresh air -- so she showed us where the call button was and went on her way.

"This is so not like the movies," Erin groused. "I mean, no cigarettes? And hey -- I don't know about you guys, but I haven't made out with anybody in 36 hours!"

After dinner -- melt-in-your-mouth Wonder bread with a filling of ham and cheese product, a boldly unadorned whole orange accompanied, even more boldly, by orange juice, and creme-filled wafers crumbling with antiquity -- more of us told our stories. Where we'd been picked up: Franklin, Hayes, Market. What we'd been doing: to a woman, obeying cop orders to stay on the sidewalk. We vowed such charming company should meet again, perhaps in a class-action setting.

A sanitary need arose, and our restless snaps instructor took over. She punched the room service button and, after a rather lengthy delay, a male staffer in blue-and-badge approached and opened the bulletproof slot through which we communicated. He didn't seem to catch the request at first. "TAMPON!" she bellowed, and he jerked back as though he'd been shot. The nurse returned and began stuffing stogie-size plastic-wrapped cylinders through the slot, quickly snapped up as souvenirs.

Erin noticed through the glass wall that the staff outside was eating a bubbling-hot pizza. Murmurs of discontent arose, along with conjecture about whether Domino's would accept a collect call from the phone in the cell.

"No -- let's order fajitas!" shouted Erin, and a spontaneous chant of "Whose fajitas? Our fajitas!" broke out.

The evening wore on, 6 1/2 hours for those in our original group (a bike messenger named Cynthia, however, had been cooling her heels for nine hours), until the staff began to call us by name, one by one. Although we had been advised that if we turned up at another of these gatherings within 48 hours our next event would last for days, several of us drew rousing cheers when we turned at the door and shouted, "See you tomorrow!" to the remaining assembly.

We understand the festivities cost our hosts a whopping $900,000. A small price to pay.

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