When the inmates are all snugly locked in at night in their ultra-secure dorm, it’s nice to know they’ll be thinking of me.
Last month I wrote the column “27 Things I Want to Do Before I Die.” One of my wishes was to “donate enough money to have my name immortalized on something like a school, or a library, or maybe at least a cage at the animal shelter.” Suddenly, with no further effort on my part, this dream has come true. I now have a dorm named after me in the largest California residential institution of its type, The Avenal State Prison. Here’s the letter I received from reader (and dorm resident) Lou Gary:
We noted that #13 on your list of “27 Things I Want to Do Before I Die” is to have your name immortalized.
Voila! And you didn’t even have to “contribute” any money.
Not only is your name immortalized, you will sleep better knowing that miscreants are locked up in the dorm bearing your name. I’m sure that for some living in the dorm, this change will be unwelcome and make their sentence that much harsher:
Con #1: “Hey, homie, which dorm you in?”
Con #2: “The Raymond Lesser Dorm.”
Con #1: (sucking air through teeth) “Jeez, I’m so sorry, man.”
One good thing about prison is that changes like this tend to be permanent. (However, if Dave Barry were to inquire, we just might have to change the name again.)
We hope this helps you in your quest. Good luck with the rest of your list.
Attached to the letter was this memorandum:
I haven’t been able to personally thank Mr. Gary for his part in instigating this honor, as he doesn’t have an e-mail address or cell phone in the cell where he lives. So I want to take this opportunity to thank him publicly. And Lou, when you read this, I want you to know one important thing: In addition to his Pulitzer Prize, Dave Barry already has a sewage pumping station named after him in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Don’t you think those are enough honors for one guy?
I also can’t help wondering who is currently residing in my dorm. Are these guys embezzlers or murderers? I hope we don’t have any ex-congressmen or bankers in there. But, the way the residential housing market is nowadays, I guess you have to take whoever you can catch.
I also received a letter this month from reader Danny Prall, who said he wanted to help me fulfill another of the “27 Things I Want to Do Before I Die”: “4. Go scuba diving with a whale shark. I’m not sure why this is on my list. I think this must have come from somebody else’s list. Or else it was on my list of ’27 Ways That I Don’t Want to Die.'”
Well, Danny wrote, “I’m a retired PADI SCUBA instructor with over 3,000 dives, and snorkeling with whale sharks matches anything I’ve ever done.” Danny then pointed me to his website for more info and photos of when he took the whale shark trip, including videos of swimming amidst 70 of these giants.
One of the photos showed a kind of gnarly looking, partially healed leg wound and contained this note: “Steve Irwin’s fatal encounter with a stingray in Oz was a freak accident. The odds against that one are less than buying a winning lottery ticket (for millions, $5 payoff doesn’t count). However, one of our trip members DID have an encounter with a whale shark that resulted in an accident as the result of an attack. This was the wound two days later. However, the attack was by the human, who got too close to the shark and suffered an abrasion wound.”
Danny, what kind of abrasion occurs to a person who accidentally attacks an otherwise friendly 15-ton wild animal? Is it anything like when I stubbed my toe in the dark kitchen last night searching for the last piece of apple pie?
Danny’s site also said, “WARNING! Small children of average size under the age of five or six are in danger of being inhaled by whale sharks accidentally as plankton or small fish, so leave them at home. We’d hate to see a whale shark choke on one of your offspring, resulting in the unfortunate demise of a whale shark. Old, extra-sized folks like Manny (the trip leader) and me got no worries, mate.”
So thanks for the tip about this once-in-a-lifetime trip. Even though I know whale sharks are gentle and playful with divers, I think I want to put on about 100 more pounds, to be on the safe side, before I sign up for this trip. Although I’m fully grown, I still often act like a five-year-old, particularly when I’m thinking about being sucked into a mouth that contains up to 350 rows of teeth. I also have 25 other things on my list to take care of first. I guess you could say I’m saving the best for last.