By Tawny Powell
Mark was a drunk, though he wouldn’t admit it.
Instead, he said, “I don’t really drink,” which I know means he can’t because he already told me he’s a writer.
He carried a water bottle full of tobacco spit, discreetly, as if to carry shame like a cheap umbrella, halfway hidden under his arm but still needing it anyway. At least that’s what everything else about him said.
So he’s a writer. A “famous” one. God bless his heart.
I wouldn’t know. I don’t follow anyone famous but Beyonce, but he spoke Needy like a language he’d denied himself. Which might be to say Mark denied himself things like booze on any given night or any real sense of accomplishment. Or himself.
Supposedly, Mark was the last to interview Hunter S. Thompson before he blew a bullet through his skull. Said he’d been asked to interview him specifically because their writing styles were so similar.
Mark, edgy, resourceful, his legs taking up the entire aisle of the bus, as if he needed that much space, plenty of weight to throw around but not much to hold onto.
If he wanted your time, consider that a gift because he didn’t like most people.
Besides, he’s “famous.”
Outside the old school bus window, I get lost in the lush green jungle. Hungry and thirsty for the freedom of nature, I’m so at peace with ‘getting away.’
My ex would be here if I had my way, next to me on this dark green seat, devouring the other Conch Fritter I picked up at the bus station in Belize City. I never invited him. Too afraid he’d say, ‘No’ and of the empty despair that would follow that kind of rejection. From him.
It’s my birthday, anyway. No need to messy this trip with what isn’t.
Mark asks if I want to get a drink later, as if that was something I might actually say ‘no’ to on my birthday. I know this because I had already said, “I can’t wait to get a drink when we get there!” Mark takes the easy way out with women. Perhaps I am a little too available. Perhaps he, too, is fearful of rejection.
Either way, he never called. I got plenty of drinks anyway. At the bar. On the walk back to my hut. In a tent. In the backyard. Of the nature lodge where I stayed.
The tent belonged to the owner’s cousin: a late 30’s gentleman whose wife recently left him and took the kids. He was devastated. And handsome. He kept a tall bottle of rum and tequila in his 1-person pup tent home. He even fetched me a fresh coconut as a chaser. I played popular, emotional American R&B music from my cell phone over the WiFi.
He never tried to kiss me.
An awkward thing happened when we arrived to Hopkins Village via taxi. Myself, Mark and this guy named Will, who seemed pretty cool but didn’t say a whole lot, shared a cab literally from the side of the highway in Belize to the center of Hopkins Village.
Mark said that someone had made his reservation for him and that he was staying at the guest house just across the street from Will. Sounds convenient enough, I thought. But after dropping both of them off and carting out their luggage, the taxi driver took a slow U-turn toward the direction of my lodge, and out walks Mark from the hotel where he supposedly had a reservation.
He mumbled something like, “they’re not being very nice ‘cuz they won’t let me to leave my bags there while I go to the gift shop to get my reservation info” and … I dunno Mark.
Kinda sounds like bullshit to me. But like a kind Belizean, our taxi driver dragged Mark’s enormous, “it’s really heavy” backpack back into the trunk of the Isuzu Rodeo, again, and gave Mark a ride to the gift shop, where he left him to sort out his business.
Seems like Mark gets a lot of free things out of the kindness of strangers. Or by exasperating them.
In hindsight, my solo-travelin-ass is glad that Mark didn’t see where the taxi dropped me off and had no idea where I was staying. Something really tells me: be grateful for that.
And I lied earlier.
He did call. Two days late, like any good drunk.
I had already left Hopkins Village. It was cute but quite boring. My highlight was a motorcycle ride from this tiny restaurant back to the nature lodge, by this adorable but way-too-young-for-me cruise ship singer.
I told Mark I was leaving on Thursday. He must’ve forgotten that too. But he did call.
I was half a country away at that point and totally disinterested in a phone conversation with a man I barely knew who talked way too much about himself for my taste. He gave me the excuse via text that he must’ve “butt dialed” me “on accident.” Of course, followed by, “though not that I wouldn’t want to talk…”
I am not sure what made Mark think I was desperate. Maybe the way I longingly gazed at the Belizean countryside, instead of him. Or maybe because I was alone. He really wasn’t cute though, not even in the pathetic, self-deprecating but I-want-to-help-you-see-the-value-in-yourself-because-you’re-an-artist kind of way.
He wanted praise and compliments – that he would never actually accept – because no one’s opinion mattered more to Mark than his own. Though he wouldn’t dare admit that or give himself any credit.
Mark is the worst kind of person to date.
Or even befriend.
If you meet a Mark, don’t fuck him.
He won’t call you back.
And not because he doesn’t want to. Because he does.
He just doesn’t believe he deserves you.
Don’t fuck Mark.
It’s an empty hole of dread and remorse, like Mark is to himself.
Maybe he is just like Hunter S.
1 interview away from a headshot.
And not the celebrity kind. Or, the celebrity kind.
Either way, I think you know what I mean.
Don’t expect him to call.
Or even lift a finger.
No need to messy your life with what isn’t and will never be.