Hi bitches. We were tempted to rant on 9/11 (aka Republican Christmas), and all the bone-headed Q'uran-burning hijinx that make us wonder whether America's become one big Tuscaloosa trailer park. To us, 9/11 is like Thanksgiving with our Baptist relatives. Everyone talks about God too much. They bicker. It makes our tummy hurt. We're glad when it's over.
And it's over. It's 9/12. Nine years ago today, we were with a friend from TriBeCa who was rendered homeless from the attack. We went to K-mart so she could buy underwear. All they had left was a pair of Disney's Pocohantas thongs which she bought while hissing under her breath that we were forbidden to mention the purchase ever again. We like 9/12 much better. It reminds us of friends. And how they help us wade through crap.
With that in mind, we'd like to talk about our friend Mark (not his real name). Mark's a good guy. Heart o' gold. And to know him is to be aware that should you ask him a harmless question like "what's up," you'd better get comfortable. Not only will he tell you exactly what's up, his answer will take longer than a non-stop flight to Pittsburgh. Our cell phone's battery has run out in the middle of his voice messages. He can talk, but he's not a bore. Everything he has to say in his faint Tennessee drawl is interesting. He doesn't repeat himself, much less pause for breath. Stick a pin in that for a sec.
A few years ago, Mark moved down the shore to Asbury Park. Part of the first wave of homosexual homesteaders (homosteaders?), he and his partner bought an enormous old house just steps from the boardwalk and spent years restoring what had become a decaying SRO crackhouse to its former glory. At the time, Asbury was drug infested, dangerous and filthy. But the few rainbow flags sprouting up like edelweiss at Treblinka seemed to suggest it just might turn the corner.
Last week, we went down for a visit. While Asbury Park hasn't quite turned that corner (it still has the air of a post-nuclear Coney Island), it was good to be there. We went to the beach and chillaxed. And it got us thinking about our two favorite memories of "motor-mouth Mark."
First, know that Mark (a musical theater homo) used to understudy for a once-famous 70's disco group who liked to dress up like cops and cowboys and sing about the Navy (yes, they still tour hither and yon caterwauling their musical invitation to "body-body, feel my body," though half of them need a walker to make it to the stage).
On Mark's 40th birthday, he held a cook-out on his front lawn (freshly cleared of discarded crack vials in honor of the occasion). Philipe, the original "Indian" (who's really Puerto Rican), was in attendance, along with Mark's lovely, chain-smoking and thoroughly charming southern mom.
At the high point of the festivities, the faux-Indian (having indulged in heap-big fire water) cranked up the karaoke version of that song about how much ass-sex can be had at a certain Christian boarding house/fitness club. For the next blissful five minutes, Mark, his mom (menthol Virginia Slims parked 'twixt her lips) and an aging (though still sexy) Puerto Rican Indian sang (and did the complete choreography to) this classic homo anthem. All the while, crack dealers, pimps and hos strolled by, viewing the spectacle with a priceless mixture of terror and confusion. That was the day, we're now convinced, that Asbury Park went irrevocably gay. And though life is booby-trapped with harrowing days like 9/11, Yahweh sometimes blesses us with a vision so surreal and delightful everything seems exactly right with the world – even (especially) when they clearly aren't.
The second memory (take the pin out), is about the day Mark's motor mouth saved our lives. One bright July Sunday before he moved to the shore, we bought some sandwiches, packed some beer, rolled a joint and headed into Central Park for a lil' picnic. We found a secluded patch of grass away from the madding crowds. Forty-five minutes later...sandwiches eaten, beers open, joint half-smoked, we lay in the grass, looking at the clouds, listening as motor-mouth Mark waxed eloquently, endlessly, prophetically about the house outside of the city he would one day buy and restore. Suddenly, his soliloquy was interrupted.
"Yo, man...got another beer?"
We raised our head and shielded our eyes from the sun. Standing three feet from us was a menacing thug and his just-as-menacing sidekick. The motor of Mark's mouth momentarily slipped into neutral.
"Um, sorry," we croaked, in our deepest heterosexual voice, "we only brought two."
"Aw, man. Me an' my boy want a f*ckin' beer."
Mark's big blue eyes widened. We gulped.
We feebly held up a half-empty bottle. "Wanna sip?"
"No, f*ggot. I don't want no motherf*ckin' sip. I want a beer and you don't gots none. So watchoo got for a brovah, punk?"
At this point, we noticed the sidekick had circled around behind, trapping us between them. They both stuck their hands in the pockets of their baggy jeans with a purpose. They were armed. Thug looked around to see if anyone was within earshot. Sidekick moved in closer. Things looked bad. We might have peed a little in our underoos.
Miraculously, Mark's motor mouth shifted from neutral to overdrive. His astounding monologue went something like this:
"What's your favorite beer? I like Sam Adams. Lager, not dark. Dark beer's too bitter sometimes. Do you think dark beer is bitter? I think so. Sometimes. Although I like Red Stripe. Red Stripe's good. Do you like Red Stripe? I like your pants. Where did you get them? How do they stay up? Nice and baggy, lots of pockets to put things. Do you have a gun in your pants? I hope you don't because if you had a gun I'd have to assume you're going to mug us or shoot us or something. I mean, if you two were having a picnic the park and some guys came up and asked for a beer and pulled out a gun, I'm pretty sure you might draw the same conclusion. I like picnics, do you? When was the last time you went on a picnic? So are you going to mug us? I hope not. I think I saw a policeman walk by a minute ago. It's a beautiful day and it would suck to get arrested for mugging or shooting a person. I've never been arrested. Have you? Not to suggest that you've been arrested. But you look like you might have. Excuse me a sec. Hey you! Yeah you, the man and lady walking your dachshund! Hi! Beautiful day, isn't it! I'm wondering, have you ever seen a mugging? Do people get mugged in this part of the park? I'm just curious because I think these guys might be trying to mug us! So if you know what a mugging looks like maybe you could come over and tell us if we're being mugged or not. Do either of these guys look capable of mugging a person? What about this one, in the red-and-white Chicago Bulls jersey? The other prefers the Knicks, apparently. He's the one who looks like he has a gun. They both might. Anyway, I think they might want to mug us or shoot us, just FYI. Do you like sandwiches? My buddy and I just had some sandwiches. I had a turkey and provolone on wheat and he had a pastrami and swiss on rye. I like pastrami but I can't eat it cause it makes me gassy. We got them at the deli on 110th and Amsterdam, with the old Greek lady with the mustache. They make good sandwiches but I don't like their soup. Have you tried it? I had their tomato soup and it tasted like spaghetti-o's sauce. It was gross. What's your name? I'm Mark. This is Steve. He's hilarious. He's not talking right now but he's funny as hell. A playwright. Do you go to the theater? I like the theater. Did you see Rent? I liked it, although I found the lyrics to be a bit trite and clumsy at times. I mean, if I want to see a show about dirty kids shooting heroin and singing about love, I'll just see Hair. Rent was Hair with AIDS. But it was okay. I hated Lion King, though. It made my head hurt. I think a hundred dollars is too much to pay for a puppet show, don't you?"
By the time motor-mouth Mark started talking about musicals, our would-be assailants were skulking away, dazed looks in their eyes. For our part, about halfway through Mark's jaw-dropping diatribe, the terror had seeped out of our bones, replaced with quiet awe. "Have a nice day!" he called after them.
That last bit, that "have a nice day!" cemented it in our mind: motor-mouth Mark rocks. And while some folks are chatty in a way that makes us long for a rope and a kick-stool, we can listen to motor-mouth Mark's crapola all day long.
Happy 9/12. We survive.
Motor-mouth Mark sez: "This blog's feed leaves me speechless"