How YOU doin'? Name's Mark, but my friends call me Skid, so you can too. I drive a '74 Chevy that originally came from the factory with a smelly diesel motor in it, but don't hold that against me. I scored it from Turner's, after some dude blew up the diesel and dropped a ZL1 big-block in it that ain't exactly smog-legal. I also removed the restrictor plate from the carb to give "The Piece" more grunt, so don't blow up my spot because what The Man don't know won't hurt him, and since I don't ever have to smog-check my truck, he'll never know. I roll with a club called Draggers Inc., which is full of guys and gals that like to race and drag rocker. I'm the new guy at Sport Truck-well, that is, me and "Baller T" Gomez are the new guys, but I'm the newest. I'm not real qualified for magazine-type work. I work construction and the door of a local college bar, but Mike wanted me here to tell my tales from the road. I keep it real-real stupid. You'll learn to love me, though. Since I got this job right in the middle of the holiday season-that's Christmas, dummies!-I figured I'd tell you about a harmless X-mas Eve trip to the mall that happened recently.

I hate holiday shopping. It's ironic that we spend countless hours fighting traffic and long cashier lines full of angry old ladies, all the while songs of happy-happy-joy-joy emanate from the P.A. system inside the mall. Don't get me wrong; I love waking up on Christmas morn, anxious to share in the gift giving, but it's just the getting there that is extremely irritating. This is especially true if you drive a lowered truck and need to go to the mall to pick up a present for the old ball 'n' chain. Every trip to my local mall makes me wonder what road engineers were thinking when they designed speed bumps the size of boulders. I mean, couldn't they think of less destructive ways to keep the ricers from speeding through the parking lot?

Anyway, my friend Jake and I had to go to the mall right in the middle of the holiday rush to pick up the Sawzall I ordered for my girlfriend's Christmas gift. Yeah, she wants one, but she just don't know it yet. When we arrived at our favorite mecca of commerce, we found ourselves stuck in a line of vehicles that was moving at a neck-snapping 2 miles per hour. I cruised past the high-school chicks standing outside the movie theater at the mall, right up to a control arm-killer speed bump. I raised up the Chevy and positioned my truck at an angle to sneak over the ominous mound of asphalt. I felt the rockers contact the speed bump, and I heard the usual scraping sound as I dragged up to the top of the bump, but then something unusual happened. As my rockers reached the peak, all four of my 17s lost contact with the pavement and left me teetering in the air. My truck was literally balancing itself on the rockers atop this massive speed bump and I was going nowhere fast. The transmission pan, mufflers, and rockers were all creaking under the weight of the truck and the noise was God-awful. Thankfully, Jake is a fat bastard and helped move the truck by sitting in the bed while I goosed the gas pedal. One smoky burnout later, we were off the bump and parking The Piece.

As we got our stroll on, I remembered that Mom's really wanted a treadmill so she could exercise while watching Oprah and eating Ho Hos. Who am I to deny a middle-aged woman her right to happiness? I found the perfect one that had a cool racing stripe and a 128-ounce cupholder inside a sporting goods store. I grabbed a sales ticket for the Gut Buster 2000 and headed to the counter to pay the tab. On the way to the checkout line, a pimply faced kid still fighting the effects of puberty said in a broken and slightly annoying voice, "Let me go pull that from the back."

Off he went, as I sat and thought about what kind of damage I had done to my truck. He returned pushing a handcart with mom's new fat-burning machine and asked where my truck was parked without so much as checking to see if I had paid for the treadmill yet. My sense of morality kicked in for about, oh, I'd say a second, before I blurted out, "It's right out front by the bus stop." I followed right behind my new best friend as he huffed it to The Piece and even loaded the Gut Buster into the bed for me. I was so stoked about the freebie that I almost forgot all about buying that Sawzall for my girl. I even tipped my new best friend, which is something I almost never do. Realizing I still had a wad of X-mas cash in my pocket, I ran back into the mall to "buy" more gifts for the rest of the Hankey clan.

Inside another chain store, I sauntered from aisle to aisle, looking in other unsuspecting shopper's carts for schwag, grabbing the latest G.I Joe action figure with Kung Fu Grip for my little brother. I hadn't even made it over to the hardware section of the store when I noticed that there was some commotion coming from under a rack of women's clothes. Being the fine upstanding grownup that I am and having some sense of responsibility, I properly yelled at the obnoxious youngster under the rack and said "Don't you know how to act in public? Where's yo mama?"