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Final Death Row Meals in Panama

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Written by Matt   
Saturday, 10 January 2009 14:36
Panama death row"In my country, sick " I tell them, trying hard not to sound like an imposing tourist, sildenafil "if you commit a bad crime, and they are going to put you into the...into the chair for the death, they give to you one last meal of anything you can choose in the whole world. The price is not important and you can pick your favorite thing to eat before...before you go up above our heads to live with god." What the fuck is this kid saying? is probably what runs through their heads first.

It generally takes me a few tries in Spanish to get across the concept of last meals on death row to Panama's taxi drivers. I enjoy talking to taxi drivers in Panama perhaps more than I do anything else if, for no other reason, because we come from such different upbringings. I'll sometimes comment on the small nativity scene he has displayed on the dashboard or perhaps make a tribute to his driving style; "you have very nice turns" I'll tell him. But my newest conversation opener is the topic of death row, a subject about which the enthusiastic of my players cross themselves just thinking about.

Once they get over the hump that is my Spanish description of a lethal injection, or what I now just explain as "death juice" paired with the hand motion of a syringe, I take pleasure in engaging Panama's taxi drivers in the conversation and asking them what they would choose should the grim decision be placed on them some day.

"I think I will go with rice and chicken," one man said, after thinking long and hard for a few seconds. "Yes, a nice bowl of rice and chicken."

"But this is your last meal," I provoke. "That is what Mr. taxi driver will order for his last meal ever? Just some plain rice and chicken? Nothing more...exciting?"

"Well," he pondered. "Maybe with some potato salad, sure. Rice and chicken with potato salad."

"What about to drink?" I ask, hoping maybe that they're saving the surprise selection of some rare and imported European nectar.

"Maybe some Malta soda. Or maybe a Coke."
I once remember reading that some dreadful serial murderer ordered his last meal by writing down a recipe-like list of things; one hot and spicy chicken breast, he demanded. Two slices of sausage pizza with extra cheese, a slice of German chocolate cake, a pint of French vanilla ice cream and a can Dr. Pepper. I always liked that he threw in there the extra cheese, as if to say, to hell with the diet tonight Thelma, it's my last meal.

It is rumored that death row inmates are given a budget of around thirty dollars, which blows some of the predicament from my fantasy scenario. But there's a lot one can buy with thirty dollars. There was another prisoner I remember, who requested six Maine lobsters and a bottle of champagne. While the liquor was not permitted, the guards had arranged for some sparkling grape juice to be served instead which I found to be a nice hospitable gesture. But this is what entertains me so wholly about, what I had come to think of as, the real prisoner's dilemma: the dreaminess, the whimsy, the thrill of being able to choose any food in the world and have a special team of government officials track it down.

This is also perhaps what amuses me so much about my Panamanian taxi drivers: their simple and down-home answers often a reflection of what mom makes or what they grew up on. There are very few glamorous or even finicky answers like filet minion and crepes suzette. No exotic noodle dishes or rare cuts of cheese. And not even a far-fetched option like the Texas inmate who requested nothing, instead choosing to take out and eat his own eyeball. Rather, Panamanian taxi drivers always choose something familiar bringing up the valid point, on several different occasions, that if you choose something extravagant and lofty, there's a chance you might not like it.

I mention my Panama taxi driver conversation gambit to friends and they call it unfair, claiming it's hard for anyone to choose their last meal without a significant amount of time to think. I always just figured I'd go with something Mexican, I think to myself. Maybe a massive burrito, maybe a serious plate of nachos. With my last words, I'd suggest the prison warden pull my finger and take out the entire room as a parting gift.

Comments (1)Add Comment
written by Luisa , January 25, 2009
Very interesting article. Funny too!
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Last Updated on Sunday, 11 January 2009 13:25