By Erin Sherbert
By Howard Cole
By Erin Sherbert
By Erin Sherbert
By Leif Haven
By Erin Sherbert
By Chris Roberts
By Kate Conger
Breaking my psycho look, I laugh. It hits me how stupid this all is.
"Uh, I don't know?!"
"If you pass the test, what will you do with this information?"
I regain my psycho composure and tell her I'd like to be a positive role model. She smiles. She looks pleased. I wisely say how my other friends are serving life sentences on the installment plan! (Nice cliché.)
"You've grown up a lot, haven't you?" Rolonda adds, shaking her head.
[Pause] "I think so. Yeah."
"So you came here to clear your name?" [I nod vigorously] "Are you ready to face the lie detector?"
"Are you sure?"
[With certainty] "Yeah, I'm ready to face the lie detector!"
"Let's get you hooked up."
"OK, let's do it!"
Members of the crew spray the set with a smoke machine to create an eerie, netherworld effect. Home viewers see intense Hank hooked up to a lie detector machine; the test is to be administered by Dr. Ed Gelb, a man who has polygraphed the likes of Jon Benet Ramsey's parents, Snoop Dogg, and Axl Rose.
"Remain still," the doctor authoritatively says. "The test is about to begin."
The studio lie detector test is actually a shadow play conducted for the cameras. The real lie detector test was administered early in the morning at Dr. Ed's intimidating office, which is filled with plaques from the Los Angeles Police Department. I tried to keep as quiet as possible around Dr. Ed, a man with an extremely dry sense of humor. I figured he probably knows more about the parole system than I will ever learn.
After searching the Internet, I decided the best way to beat a polygraph test was to put a tack in my shoe and poke myself when each question was asked. Thus, one tack in one shoe. I'm not sure if this helped during the morning session. But it was very uncomfortable.
For the faux re-enactment of the test, Dr. Ed says, "The advice, Hank: The attempt at any countermeasures will invalidate this test." The accompanying screen graphics read: "Says he did not smoke marijuana while on probation."
"Do you plan to tell the truth on this test whether you knowingly used marijuana while on probation?" Dr. Ed asks.
I stare straight ahead like I'm harboring disturbing secrets. I shift my eyes back and forth, taking in the information Dr. Ed is providing as my forehead strains and my eyebrows make intense peaks.
"Yes!" I say.
"Did you do marijuana while on probation last January?"
[Extreme close-up] "NO!"
This is true; I wasn't on probation last January.
"This test is now over. Remain still for 10 seconds please."
Then comes the cunning teaser: "When we return: Is Hank really on the straight and narrow, or is Hank really just blowing smoke?"
After a big buildup, Rolonda slowly opens an envelope, as if this were the Academy Awards. I'm all prepared to freak out -- extremely -- when she says I failed, perhaps even storm off the set. Streaking might be involved. Rolonda lets out a shrug and sighs.
"Hank, the lie detector has determined ... that you ... are ... [She shakes her head] Hank, you're telling the truth!"
The music turns triumphant.
I raise my arms in the air in victory: "HEEEEEEEEEY!"
I laugh. Rolonda laughs.
"I knew it, because I was telling the truth," I remark.
"You were telling the truth," Rolonda adds.
The music turns sappy and inspirational.
"Hank, this is a really big day for you, because you've been vindicated. What do you want to say to your parole officer?"
I look directly into the camera.
"You're a motherfucker!"
The director asks for a cleaner version.
"You're a small little Mr. Potato Head!" I say. "'Cause I proved myself right!"
Rolonda lets out an over-the-top laugh. I look pissed.
"So now that you've been vindicated, and that must be a really good feeling."
"Yeah, it feels good," I say with a blank expression. "It just proves I've been telling the truth the whole time."
The sappy music builds. Rolonda looks at the positive.
"The good thing is you had a bad experience, but you found some good in it!"
I expand on her theme, explaining how I turned everything around for the positive and flaunting my Jesus T-shirt.
"Hank, you're amazing!" she says, touching my arm. (I'm a story of hope and inspiration for Rolonda and others!)
"Anything else you want to say? This is your big day," Rolonda says with a warm, bonding smile. "You say whatever you want."
I break a smile for the first time, looking directly into the camera. "I'm just saying: When it comes down to it, stick to your guns, and the lie detector doesn't lie."
There's mention of sending a copy of the show to my parole officer. Rolonda goes up for a high-five.
"Give me some loving on that one, babe," she says.
"All right!" I say. We high-five.
"You've been vindicated," Rolonda says. "Thank you."
"No," I insist sincerely, "thank you!"