Marker's Mark


So my buddy, CT, likes to test people.  She does so in a number of ways.  She may ask many questions which seem to be of no importance, i.e. "Do you like rice pudding?"  Believe it or not, she categorizes all the answers and profiles people.  She likes to ask people to do things for her in order to see just how far she can push them.  She also shares a common trait with me in that she likes to annoy people by deliberately messing up facts.  It is something that drives people nuts and only is amusing to the one doing it.

She decided to do it to me one night when she, Jeff and I were at a bar.  She had already had a few drinks and her thick, Southern accent was beginning to lightly slur.  Because we were sitting at the bar, it was difficult for the three of us to have a conversation.  It didn't help that the bar was hopping that night.  She broke our silence and asked rather loudly as she pointed to a bottle of Maker's Mark, "What is Marker's Mark?"

"Some kind of whiskey."  Jeff replied purposely ignoring her calling it by the wrong name.

"Marker's Mark..."  She pondered.

It wasn't unusual for CT to misread things and let her brain fill in the gaps with what made more sense to her.  I decided to correct her to save her the embarrassment of looking silly and said, "It's Maker's Mark, CT."

CT began her tirade pretending not to hear me, "Marker's Mark.  I like that!  You got a Marker and he puts his Mark on it.  That shows it has quality.  Marker's Mark: I like that.  Ya know, I think that's gonna become my new drink.  I like it when things are marked by a Marker-"

"It's Maker's Mark."  I said through gritted teeth.

"Oh that Marker's Mark.  I really like that-"

I nearly shouted.  "IT'S MAKER'S MARK!"

"It's Marker's Mark and it's gonna be Marker's Mark 'til the day I die!"  She retorted.

There was a brief silence and then CT went on again, "I like that, Marker's Mark!  I'm not gonna drink anything but Marker's Mark from here on out-"

By now I had realized that she was deliberately trying my patience and knew the one way to shut her up.  "Do you want me to buy you a shot?"

CT's thoughtful look became a scowl and she softly replied, "No."


I know it's a pointless story but it haunts me every time I am at a bar or liquor store confronted by that squarish bottle with the red wax.  Others have told me that they also initially read "Marker's Mark."  While I can see how the eye could play such a trick, Marker's Mark doesn't make any sense.  A craftsman type person or "maker" of something proudly places his mark on it.  It's like a painter signing his work of art saying, "I approve of this."  Marker's Mark is redundant.  And what the hell is a Marker anyway?  Are we talking about those crayola things and the marks they leave?  Or is a Marker a type of person or profession?

I can picture a Marker being a very old profession.  Marker's learn their trade through apprenticeship.  They must have impeccable reading and writing skills and above all exquisite penmanship.  Like today's notary public, Markers sign and draw up documents.  They are not acting as lawyers but as official assistants to lawyers, royalty and prominent businessmen.  A Marker usually has his own individual stamp seal or "mark" which he embosses on the important documents he officiates.  

So one day in the 18th Century, some men approach this noble Marker who looks like a cross between Alfred Hitchcock and Samuel Pepys and speaks with Hitchcock's rich, buttery English accent.  He is ill-fitted in a suit of fine threads worn by men of distinction.  It's tightness around the collar pinches his neck drawing attention to his double chin.  He does not adorn jewelry or frills and chooses a simpler degree of elegance.  The two men have an idea that will make them all a fortune.  They want the Marker to link his mark with their whisky company.  A marker is known for their mark among colleagues, some more famous than others.  A Marker has never lent out his mark to anything other than documents.  This particular Marker never much thought that anyone would be interested in his particular seal except as witness or an administrator.

One of the men convinced him, "Marker's are known for their marks.  Your mark would state that you approve of this whisky.  It lends a little bit of class to our brand for associating with a man of a respected profession."

The Marker mulled the idea over and eventually agreed.  He felt that as a Marker, he deserved to dictate what his mark should represent and not just do as he was told.  With a stamp of his mark, he branded the whisky and became the most famous Marker in the world, hence the story of Marker's Mark.


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