WORD ON THE STREET: Hey Mary! How are you and Mark doing? I talked to both of you about two months ago.

MARY: Wow, hey. You remembered my name. Yeah, we’re alright.  We actually started dating right around then. We first saw each other at a Starbucks—we met through a mutual friend—and we were immediately attracted to each other. We later talked about how it was a mutual feeling when we first locked eyes.

Oh yeah? What first struck you about him?

Ha ha! Actually it was his nose—he has a very Italian nose. He’s really insecure about it but I fucking love noses [laughs]. Especially that one.

Do you ever pinch it to just to piss him off?

No, but I kiss it. And I nuzzle it. You know, like Eskimo kisses.

So how did you and Mark start talking?

Well, he adored me. That’s probably what kept me coming back. He was just such a sweetheart; very affectionate.

Did you and Mark go do something your first night?

No, but we would see each other here and there. Mark later told me he would look for me every day, you know,  trying to purposefully bump into me. He was always the same—flirtatious, but in the good way, and not in the obnoxious way, which I get all the time and totally turns me off. The way he did it was just really sweet.

What was Mark’s approach?

Well, he would listen to me in conversation, like just like a friend, but he would give me compliments, good ones, so that I knew he was paying attention to who I am, as opposed to just what my face looks like, or my tits. He said things that genuinely led me to believe that he was beginning to see who I was—and genuinely liked who I was. That’s appreciated.

What’s the nicest thing he ever said to you?

Hmm…I can’t think of it right away. We’ve been fighting so much, lately. He’s actually the shittiest boyfriend ever. What I’m describing is how he was when he first drew me in.

When did things get rocky?

When I realized Mark’s not capable and/or willing to do the things for me that I had done for him. For instance…there are many different ways to show love and affection, right? …Like thinking of that person when they’re not there. If you walk by a florist and you see white roses—and you know those are her favorite—you buy her the white roses. Or, you’re in a record store and you see the favorite album she lost—you buy her the album. Things like that. I had done some things like that for him, and then the time came where he had the opportunity to do something like that for me and it just never happened….Or…let’s be real…I had bought him dope several times, because he doesn’t make money as easily as me. Then there was the time I didn’t have money, and he had $30, and instead of getting me one bag and him two, he got himself three and me none. There were other things, like I would buy him a gigantic thing called Tilt in the morning, and he wouldn’t even want to give me a few sips. He would just grunt and complain. He’s very selfish and it’s becoming more and more frequent. I’m just realizing that’s who he is. He hid it well, at first.

That sounds frustrating.

Yeah, and he lies about things. He’s just very consumed by taking care of his needs and doesn’t seem concerned with being with someone else in the way a relationship requires.

Where’s Mark right now?

Where is Mark right now? Probably passed out on a park bench or crashing into a wall. I don’t know; he’s inebriated wherever he is.

Do you like him inebriated?

Nooo, he’s terribly obnoxious. But, then again, when he’s completely straight in the morning, he’s miserable. But then, in the middle of the day before it’s too crazy, he’s normal. You know, he’s not fucked up to the point where he’s stumbling on his words and being boisterous. He’s straight enough to have a civilized conversation. And be sweet.

He’s at his best in the afternoon.

Well, it all depends on how much money he makes….I think sometimes it’s my fault. I’d never had a relationship on the street before. Maybe my expectations are too high—that’s what Mark tells me—and that I’m expecting too much from him. What I keep telling him is all I expect is decency, to be honest, to think of me when I’m not there, to be where he says he’s going to be. And to not be so selfish. There’s no reason to treat me that way…but he’s so conditioned by what he’s been through on the street that he just treats everyone in this way—as if it’s him against the world.

I think that’s a common theme among us young men.

Yeah, but I think you should put that aside when you meet someone you’ve supposedly fallen in love with. He tells me he “loves” me all the time.

You’ve been together two months and you’re using the L-word.

Yeah, that started about a month ago or so. I said it first. I was the one to say, you know what, how about we just be boyfriend and girlfriend and be committed. You don’t shit on me and I won’t shit on you and let’s take it from there. I don’t remember exactly when I told Mark I loved him, but he had probably just done something sweet.

What’s something sweet he does?

OK, he does do sweet things all the time. He takes my shoes off every night and massages them. Every night. And he hugs me and holds me and touches me. Mark is very physically affectionate.

You said before he’s an angel when he sleeps.

Yes! That’s when it’s the most peaceful and beautiful, when we’re falling asleep and lying in bed. It’s just pure affection and innocence, you know? Nobody’s looking for anything, nobody’s being selfish. We’re relaxed, calm, and we’re in the moment.

Is the sex good?

It’s very good! Maybe that’s what’s keeping me going. He’s surprisingly good in bed. I can tell if a man is going to be good with me in bed, just by the way he touches me at first. My reaction to Mark’s first touch was: This is how I like to be touched.

Did you guys do anything special for Valentine’s Day?

I was alone on Valentine’s Day. We’re weren’t really together-together on that day. Actually, my valentine was an overdose.

Oh, fuck.

Yeah, I was on cocaine and heroin. My dealer gave me a gift by giving me $70-worth of coke when I had only bought $40. I figured I would just push this as far as it will go. I put it all in the cooker at once and shot it and I had a seizure.

That sounds painful.

I actually came out of it feeling very good and wanting to do it again. Nobody else wanted me to do it again, though. They took care of me right there—the seizure didn’t last long. Mark wasn’t there that night—I was hanging with my dealer and a couple other girls.

What was Mark’s reaction?

He told me shooting cocaine was no good and he asked me to stop because it’s crazy or stupid. You know, the general caring reaction.

Are you going to miss sleeping next to Mark tonight? Or do you think you’ll find him?

Well, we agreed to meet up at ten o’clock on St. Mark’s and Second Avenue, and if he’s not, he’s in big trouble.

Do you think you guys are going to work it out?

I totally see us having a future—if we left New York and/or just generally got off the drugs and tried to do the right thing and live a good life—the way we were meant to…or the way that would be most conducive to our happiness.

Why can’t you keep the love and the drugs?

Because they make people someone they’re not, and Mark is not a selfish junkie who lies; Mark has become that because of the life he needs to live to maintain the drug usage.

How do you know that about Mark if you’ve only known him to be a junkie?

Everyone has their light, and everyone has their darkness, and his light shines through occasionally when the drugs aren’t as prevalent. The drugs have kind of taken over right now, but it doesn’t mean he has to be that way the rest of his life.

You said you were in jail recently. Mark must have been worried.

Oh, yes he was, but not at first. We had had an argument, because he lied to me when he said he didn’t get any bags out of copping for someone when he actually did. I yelled at him, walked away, and I got arrested just a few hours later. He had assumed I had just left town and that he meant nothing to me and he was pissed.

Why did you get arrested?

I was inside one of my dealers’ houses…narcotics had been watching him and I didn’t know it. So my dealer was expecting his dealer to show up at any moment, and when there was a knock at the door he didn’t look in the peephole and he opened the door wide open. Behind him sitting on the carpet was me and two other ladies shooting dope and coke—that was enough for the cops. Before I knew it we were all in handcuffs. I would have been released the next day, but someone messed up on my paperwork—which happens all the time with people who don’t have expensive lawyers—and I got stuck in Riker’s Island for 20 days on a $1 bail. Once Mark found out what happened he couldn’t have even gone to pay it because I was under a fake name. I was so dope-sick you wouldn’t believe it. I had the worst vomiting, diarrhea, and disgusting aching body for seven days until I finally got medicated with methadone.  But that’s the deal you make with Satan when you start shooting dope—you have to live through that suffering. So my dealer got released, paid our bail paid and ran up to Mark and told him where I was. Mark felt so awful because he had been angry.

Was it was a happy reunion.

Oh, my god. When I first saw him he looked so happy. He jumped on me and kissed me in front of everybody, all the street kids. I hadn’t made someone light up like that in a long time.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about Mark?

[Sighs] That I love him, even though he’s not perfect.



Ps. WordontheStreetNewYork has become nearly unnavigable–and totally inaccessible to me–just yesterday. There’s this stretch of code or something on the top of my homepage that has appeared. My website’s back-end is blog. Does anybody know what to do? If so please contact me at


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