On Mark

by Chuk Kittredge

So there I was, Thursday afternoon, kicking back on the couch, reading a little Machiavelli - y'know, world domination tips - when in walks Joy. Like a breath of fresh air. She's there to talk about Mark. So he drags his punk-ass off the couch, throws her a little sideways leer, and starts talking. Words pouring out of his mouth, little bombs of rancorous pride dropped from the heights of his lofty idealism. All I wanted to do was eat my plate of cookies, but the thing about Mark is, once he starts he doesn't stop. At anything. So I ran to get my Dictaphone, to transcribe these little tidbits of Mark's wisdom. The whole time, I can see this thought running through Joy's head: Bodice-ripper? Scary Mark? Evil frickin' Jesus? This kid's a tool.

I guess I ought to tell you a little bit about Mark. You'll read more, and better, about him from Joy, but the cat's my roommate, so I suppose I owe him at least this one courtesy. See, Mark is supposed to be this big steaming pile of trouble, right. I mean, you've heard the stories - how he dropped out freshman year to have an affair with a married woman. How he goes through women like a scythe through grain, leaving nothing but the print of his jack-booted heels amidst the swirling chaff of heartbreak. How he's some kind of a drug lord. You probably know them all better than I do. But kids, really - there's only one thing you need to know about Mark. He's just a big dumb puppy dog.

Yeah, he's got the leather jacket, the long hair, and the vaguely serpentine eyes. Yes, the sick sense of humor, the fondness of drink, the moral code straight from Epicurus. But, I mean, the kid's just kinda lame. Trust me. I live with him. I have to watch him wink at his dumb self in the mirror every morning. And he never even puts the seat up. A big, dumb puppy dog that isn't even housebroken.

Oh, but he's a womanizer, right? Lipstick and broken hearts and torn stockings, and all that. The kid's got a girlfriend who he's madly in love with, and has been for the past year and a half. They're too cute. To see him wrestling with her on the kitchen floor (and her winning) - I mean, it's to die for. Oh, but the drugs. He sold PCP. Crack to little kids. Angel dust to storm troopers. Truth is, Mark gets a whiff of that benevolent herb and starts singing "Positively 4th Street" at the top of his lungs. In a raspy voice. Totally out of key. And that's another thing - how can somebody who owns every single album, studio or live, that Bob Dylan ever made - how can this guy be a drugged-out homicidal maniac? And trust me - he has every single frickin' one. I mean every. I swear to God, if I hear "Go away from my window/ leave at your own chosen speed" at three a.m. one more time, I'm gonna choke the kid, evil reputation or no.

Now don't get me wrong. The kid's got a mouth you'd hope he never kisses anybody's mother with. He can't handle his liquor. I mean not at all. And he'll take a brick to the side of the face and still not go down. Trust me. I've seen it. But evil? Scary, even? Maybe when he's grinning like a lunatic, and you can almost see the pornographic thoughts running through his thick little skull. Maybe then. He's just a big box of id with no assembly instructions and batteries are not included, thank you very much.

And style? Style?! First things first. He lost his leather jacket somewhere, probably when he was all drunk and stupid. So now he's borrowing my old one, but the shoulders are way too big for him, and he kinds slumps when he walks so he looks like some homeless guy. He hasn't had a new pair of pants since middle of sophomore year, and he wears my old Bill's Pizza Palace shirt with the bleach stains on it. Says he likes when people wonder if he's a townie. I guess he didn't think it was so funny when a prof called Security last week to come drag this white trash out of his classroom.

I mean, he tries. He tries hard. You know, he really does. He tries to be that guy, the bad boy, the rebel without a cause. But fact of the matter is, he's still an idiot. I mean, he doesn't even know how to drive a standard. How can you be a bad boy and not know how to drive stick?

But what would I know? Hell, I just live with the kid. I mean, he's all right, I guess. If you go for that whole quasi-bad boy thing. Maybe. I don't know. Whatever.