Monday, January 31, 2005

Markie and Dickless

When I was a kid I had two close buddies. On particularly giddy afternoons when we were all hopped up on Butterfingers and Jolt Cola, we’d call ourselves The Three Musketeers. We were:

• Mark, an overweight redhead, lived four houses down from me. Everyone in the neighborhood knew Mark (my sister called him “Markie”) was a bad kid, but he was the only guy on the block my age. His dad was a gruff man, a cop, and he was always working on his gold-flecked 1968 Camaro in the garage (I swear he worked on that car every night for 15 years and I never once saw him drive it). Despite the fact that Markie used to sit on me until I cried, I played with him everyday, mostly because he had Atari and I wanted to be invited over to play Missile Command and eat pork products.

• Doug, a short, mop-topped spark plug, lived two blocks away. Doug was small, but he was mean. He’d do shit he knew would get under my skin just to see if I would cry or fight back or call him “Dickless” (instead of “Douglas”) and run for my life. The backyard of Doug’s house abutted what we called “the wash” – a large, cement-walled storm sewer that led all the way down to the railroad tracks that ran parallel to Los Angeles Avenue. On hot summer days, we’d sit under the tracks, drink soda pop and try to hear our own prepubescent screams above the screeching thunder of the Santa Fe cargo trains that chugged over our heads.

• Me, a tall, 90-pound thyroid case with big feet and a strong aversion to conflict. Unless we were hanging out with Rodney, a mildly retarded black kid from our class who always had milk residue welled up in the corners of his mouth, I was the default subject of Mark and Doug’s relentless teasing – and it was hard to blame them. I was such an easy target. I was skinny. I had a big nose. I wasn’t good at sports. And I was Jewish, which meant every Saturday when all of the other kids were riding their bikes, I had to go to the synagogue with my dad and wear one of those funny beanies on my head. God, the ribbing I took after they first saw me wearing a yarmulke was relentless. “Nice yar-mool-key, fag! What are you, a rabbi or somethin’?”

I don’t believe my parents were particularly fond of Markie and Dickless. I think they would have preferred that I associate with other Jewish boys or at the very least boys who didn’t send me home a blubbering mass of tears, snot, blood, dirt, bruises and hurt feelings every afternoon. But I didn’t care. I was a glutton for punishment, I guess.

We would often chill in the ratty wooden fort in Doug’s backyard, leafing through Doug’s dad’s Playboys and debating whether or not Fritos were better than Doritos. But one day when we were in junior high school, we were in the fort when Doug produced an industrial squirt bottle full of a pale brown liquid. He said it was Jack Daniels, swiped from his dad’s liquor cabinet. I believed him.

Doug and Mark knew my reputation. They knew I was, in the parlance of the day, a puss. I didn’t drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, even cloves. I just didn’t experiment, not because I wasn’t curious but because I knew there would be hell to pay at home if there was any evidence of straying from the path of straight and narrow.

As the afternoon wore on, Doug and Mark squirted the brown liquid into their mouths repeatedly. They were timid at first --- just one squirt at a time. But then they became emboldened, challenging one another to two squirts, then five, then 10 at a time. They kept asking me to try, I kept declining and they kept calling me names.

As the sun began to set, Doug turned the squirt bottle toward me and threatened to squirt me. I pleaded with him not to. He fired a warning shot over my right shoulder, hitting Miss September in the left breast. I told him to knock it off. He laughed at my meager indignance and fired another shot over my left shoulder, hitting Miss February right between the eyes. I stood up and dusted myself off.

“Fuck you guys,” I said, marching off toward home.

“Ooooooh. Big words, Jewboy,” one of them said as I stomped off. I heard the sound of the trigger on the squirtbottle being squeezed repeatedly as I left the yard.

We were never close again after that. I saw them at school from time to time, but we never walked down to the train tracks or rode our bikes to get ice cream again. Last I heard, Mark had gone off to fight in Desert Storm and Doug had married and become a father.

My son has begun to carve out a group of regular friends from his preschool --- nice kids with great parents. I watch them play with their Rescue Heroes figures and pretend to be Superman and become downright giddy when they see each other. It’s quite a sight for a parent to behold --- his child in a moment of unbridled joy and youthful exuberance. But I suppose my subconscious litmus test for my son’s friends will always be whether or not I can picture any of them 10 or 12 years from now sporting a mild bourbon buzz and perusing stolen porno mags.

39 Comments:

At 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, like many folks here I found your blog because of dooce.com. I come back because of your wit. You make me laugh almost every time. This post was much more touching. I bet you're a hell of a dad.

donnaly

 
At 5:54 PM, Blogger deb in sf said...

I'm teary. Those boys were friends with you because you were the only one who would let them feel good about themselves by taking their shit. Ugh. He may have fought for our country or whatever, but I hated that Markie ****. So what if he could disappear his whole hand into the fat folds of his stomach. That's no talent. Bleh. I hate them.

 
At 7:23 PM, Blogger deb in sf said...

Sorry, I meant to say they were friend with you because of that AND because you were the damned coolest skinny jew-boy in town.

 
At 7:32 PM, Blogger Closet Metro said...

Reminds me of the only compliment I ever got from one of my grade school "buddies" "Damn, you can really take a punch!"

 
At 9:12 PM, Blogger amy said...

Wonderful childhood memories. I need to go to my vault and write some of my own. I lived in a town of less than 800 for 18 years. We had no mall, no big stores but the five & dime and only a hardware store. We didn't even have a swimming pool but the Missouri River until 1975. Thanks for the great walk down memory lane. How old are you anyways? I didn't know the swear word "fuck you" till my teens. But I visualized everything down to the gruff cop working on his camero. Goodnight!

 
At 6:54 AM, Blogger LadyBug said...

Very touching. You made me want to go hug my 8-year-old.

 
At 7:06 AM, Blogger honestyrain said...

i prefer to think that neither my son nor any of his friends will ever be the sort of individual who peruses pornography.

allow me my delusions.

 
At 6:45 PM, Blogger deb in sf said...

Oh, yeah. And that Camero was a Corvette.

 
At 12:25 PM, Blogger Harry said...

THIS...is the best. I got to hand it to ya for enduring those days. All of us skinny ones can relate; I'm not Jewish, but all the rest fits like the old glove, including the no-talant sports. Well-told, human. And LHPH son will do fine, I predict.

 
At 12:54 PM, Blogger Shiz said...

Touching. I think all the bullies end up as accountans or insurance salesmen.

 
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Honest really, last time I saw him there he was right in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender".

He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a shiny, new lcd tv to go with that blue suede sofa of yours.

But Elvis said I, In the Ghetto nobody has a lcd tv .

Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger.

Then I'm gonna go home, put ma dancin' suit on, munch me some uppers and freak out to that maaaaaaaaad surfing scene in Apocalypse Now on ma lcd tv .

How cool is that boy?

And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . .

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You give me strength to carry on "

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At 6:11 AM, Blogger hplauze said...

I have been on-line searching for hours for information regarding takamine guitar and stumbled across your blog during my journey :-) Daniel Evans your blog is really amazing! Keep up the great work. Obviously my search on takamine guitar was way off when compared to Markie and Dickless and find it funny how it landed me here. The internet is a funny thing. Anyways, great job on your blogging and keep up the good work! I been searching for takamine guitar for over 2 hours and needed a break from it. I started reading your blog and really enjoyed it.
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At 1:56 AM, Blogger hplauze said...

Hey this blog is not about guitar universe. Silly internet bringing me here :-) Funny I have been doing hours of research on guitar universe and it brought me to your blog on Markie and Dickless. The web plays funny games sometimes. Anyways, I was reading your blog Daniel Evans and I think it is really cool. Keep up the great work.
If you do not mind I may snag your blog and put it in my favorites. I read a ton of stuff that interested me. Keep blogging away :-)

 
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Hi Daniel Evans your blog is really great! Wow :-) As I was out blog surfing and surfing the web for detailed info on beginner guitar I stumbled across your blog. Obviously my search landed me here and it is a little off subject compared to Markie and Dickless, but I am certainly glad I did come across your blog. Did I already tell you I like it! If you would not mind, I would like to add your link to my "favorites" page to come back and read again sometime. Should you ever need it, there's lots of information on this site about beginner guitar. Again, great blog and keep up the great work!
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Well this blog certainly is not about resonator guitar. What the heck! I guess the internet can play some tricks on us sometimes. I have been on-line for two hours
researching resonator guitar and came tumbling across your blog. I LOVE IT! I needed a break from resonator guitar anyways :-) If you don't mind I want to add your
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Even though my search is not on Markie and Dickless I am glad I came across your blog. Keep blogging away!

 
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