Back-Door Mark: The Oracle of P.B.ST
Mod Note: Blast from the Past - "Best of Eddie". This one is originally from November 2010.
My buddy Pat lived in a condo on the beach, and it was a righteous location. When I say on the beach I mean when you opened his front door, you stepped out onto a large fenced-in deck, and when you went through the gate your toes were in the sand. I lived a little nearer to the harbor, where I kept my boats. (That's right, bitches. Boats. Plural.) The thing that Pat and I had in common (aside from our love of strong drink) was that we were both commodities traders for the same firm in our late 20's. Needless to say, I spent a lot of my free time at Pat's place. His deck was a mecca for beach revelers and bikini babes.
It was there that I met Back-Door Mark. Mark lived in a 350 sq ft studio apartment behind Pat's place. That's how he got the nickname "Back-Door" Mark, though he used the moniker's obvious sexual connotation to his advantage with the ladies. His apartment was so small that he actually had a Murphy bed that folded down from a cubby in the wall. He was an average guy: average height and build, average looking, a college degree from nowhere special. But Back-Door Mark was remarkable in two ways: he almost never worked, and he got more ass than a toilet seat.
I used to light up when Mark came around, because I knew the day was about to take a turn for the absurd. Mark slept with so many different women that he couldn't keep them straight. One day, this really hot chick came rollerblading up to the deck where we were all drinking and called out, "Hey, Mark!" with a smile. He looked at her and acted like they were old friends when he said, "Hey...uh...you!". I found out later this was a chick he'd slept with on two different occasions and he didn't even remember her name. That's not the worst part.
She came in, grabbed a beer, and started hanging out with us. Pat and I were laughing to each other because we knew Mark didn't remember her name, but we weren't prepared for what happened when she finally realized it. She looked kinda hurt and then said, "Mark, my name is ______" and it was the first and last name of a world-famous actress (think Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johanssen, etc...). Pat and I were floored. It was odd enough to forget the name of a hot chick you'd slept with twice, but to forget one that shared a name with a famous actress? Unbelievable.
Even more unbelievable, Back-Door Mark convinced her to take him out that night and, yes, he bedded her again.
Back-Door Mark was a renaissance man in the late 90's without even knowing it. His rent was $400 a month, his car was paid off (and was a respectable compact), and his monthly nut came to less than a grand. He had some job that I want to say was real estate-related (mortgages, I seem to remember) that didn't require him to be in the office very often, and I think he pulled down about $40,000 a year.
Pat and I would knock off early from time to time because the majority of the commodities markets closed no later than 1 o'clock in California. We'd head back to Pat's place to drink, and we'd find Back-Door Mark at least two or three ahead of us on the deck. He actually caused a problem for us once when a stripper flew in from Atlanta to hang out with him and she was tanning on the deck topless in a thong while our wives and girlfriends went berserk.
The fact is, Back-Door Mark had it all figured out. While Pat and I were killing ourselves to make the big money, Mark was working about 25 hours a week (if at all), living on the beach, and pulling more wool than a New Zealand rancher. When it came to blowing off steam, all three of us were right beside each other at the bar and Pat and I envied his lifestyle. Mark literally had to give Yahoo! Personals a break every couple months because he'd slept with every chick on there and was in danger of recycling.
There were many times back then that I looked at Mark and thought to myself, "Why am I doing what I'm doing? This guy has everything I have minus all the bullshit I have to put up with. Sure, he doesn't have a big house or a couple of boats or a fancy car, but he's got everything he needs to be happy and he doesn't stress out about jack shit."
I think you younger monkeys would do well to give this some thought. Racking up a shitload of student debt, busting your ass for four years to achieve a GPA worthy of more than a cursory glance by an IB recruiter, going through the frustration of the interview process and getting rejected time after time is all just par for the course. God forbid you actually get hired. Then you're really screwed.
What do we have for our big winner, Bob? We've got two years of 100+ hour weeks of mind numbing clerical work, a shitty apartment he'll almost never see, and an asshole boss who makes him jump through hoops for his own entertainment!
It is possible today more than ever before in history to make $2-3,000 a month without ever leaving home. I'm here to tell you, if that opportunity existed when I was in my early 20's, I would've given Back-Door Mark a run for his money. It's all in how you manage your lifestyle. Mark paid $400 a month for a place 50 feet from the beach instead of $3,000 a month for a place right on the beach. He could tell you which bars were serving what free food during Happy Hour based on the day of the week. He knew how to live the minimalist lifestyle without giving up anything important.
Before this post gets any longer, I just want to encourage you younger guys to consider the alternatives to the rat race. Most of us older guys remember some guy from college who bailed and became a bartender in Ibiza and just enjoyed his life instead of chasing a buck. On some level, we're all envious of that guy.
I actually re-connected with Back-Door Mark recently on Facebook. He's exactly the same. His photos are all of him with beautiful women hanging out at beach bars. He's got the same smile on his face in every one of them. He's into his 40's now, but the girls he's with have stayed the same age as back then. Incredible.
Why we put so much stock in what a guy like Warren Buffett has to say instead of listening to guys like Back-Door Mark is beyond me. I'm probably going to get a lot of hate for promoting the "slacker" lifestyle, but I know some of you are going to see the wisdom in it.
Am I wrong?