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My own private Benjamin

I can't sleep, (which, what the fuck? I got three hours of sleep last night. I should be unconscious, but Mia woke up at 12:30 to eat and now Chris is snoring and I'm wide awake.) so let's climb into the wayback machine and take a trip all the way back to junior high.

I know, junior high is a scary place. I'll hold you, don't be afraid.

Seventh grade orientation, earth science class, last class of the day, and all of the sudden, there's this guy. Preppy-looking, dark hair is some crazy pompadour, blue eyes like oceans or lasers or I don't even know what just blue like you would not believe and gorgeous. I was in love. I was so much in love, that on the bus on the way home I told my best friend all about him and how in love I was and that his name was Benjamin. Benjamin, Benjamin. I clearly remember saying it a few times like that, all dreamy and gooey.

Except his name wasn't Benjamin. Benji turned out to be this sweet, goofy kid sitting next to my new one true love and I guess I heard wrong when the teacher called roll, or else I was blinded by my love. And I wasn't the only one. The school had this thing on Valentine's Day where you could send someone a red carnation for a dollar. I sent one (anonymously, of course) to not-Benjamin, as did all of my girlfriends. As did every girl in the school, if the red carnations crammed into not-Benjamin's notebook at the end of the day were any indication. (I never got a carnation. I was a huge dork in junior high. Oh, and in high school. Dorks are sexy though, right? I made it look hott.)

Not-Benjamin turned out to be a really nice guy. We were friendly during his junior high preppy phase and friendly during most of high school and by the time he was a long-haired, unwashed, scraggly hippie senior year we were good friends. I was madly in love with him for all of seventh and eighth grades. Oh, and ninth grade. And part of senior year too, which was a little awkward since I was dating one of his best friends at the time. Not-Benjamin was good at all the arty things I was interested in, but mainly he could write. Man, could he write. He was the first person who really impacted me with his ability to manipulate words.

One day, while we were hanging out in a cemetery (don't ask) we started a contest to see who could give up their particular crutch for the longest. Not-Benjamin wasn't allowed to smoke and I wasn't allowed to be sarcastic. Unfortunately, I also wasn't allowed to just not speak, so I was doomed. Not-Benjamin worked hard to bait me, and I was doing ok, until he said "I love you, Beth." I said "Oh I love you too, not-Benjamin," and he went straight for his lighter. I crashed and burned, because it cut too close. I was over it by then (mostly), but not far enough away to remember it charitably and laugh. I'm laughing now.

I've only seen not-Benjamin a couple of times since we all left town after high school. The last time was 10 years ago, maybe a little less, and it was awkward and weird. Or probably, I was awkward and weird. Since then, I haven't heard from him. And then yesterday, I read Isabel's post about myspace and logged in to the account I never use and searched for people who had graduated high school with me. And there, in the "last person I expected to see here" category, was not-Benjamin. So I emailed him, and he emailed back.

And because I am dumb and this whole thing where I tell people about the other blog but not this blog has become too confusing for my poor, addled brain, I mentioned that I had a blog. I tried to get out of it, but naturally at that point I had to cough up the link. Not-Benjamin is reading my blog. I'm a little embarrassed, and I don't know why, so I decided I may as well just go all the way and post this, which is about the most embarrassing thing I can think of for not-Benjamin to read, and then I no longer have to worry about it because the damage will be well and fully done.

So, everybody, say hi to the first boy I ever loved. Oh, and tell him to be nice to me about this or risk the wrath of the internet. Y'all could work up some wrath on my behalf, right?

(Oh, you guys got that the title is supposed to be a play in My Own Private Idaho, right? Not on Private Benjamin? Swear.)

Comments (31)

Boy, can you write, sugar. I'm blushing asunder. Thank God for your words and your memory. And whatever you do don't sick this presumed graceland-bloggosphere memphis mafia of yours on me, Elvis. There's lots of folks out there, and lots of 'em ain't named Benjamin. But I am glad to the gills that I heard from you today :) Thanks for the nod, and I reckon that carnation too -can't rightly call it anonymous anymore can ya? Love to the fam':)


Well, I was gonna tell him to be gentle and nice or suffer wrath all the way from australia... but he's already done gone and been super nice.

Great post by the way. ahhh, first loves. I remember mine well.

Smoking is bad Not-Benjamin! ;)

Hi "Benjamin." I picture you looking exactly like Beth's pretend celebrity boyfriend, Clive Owen, just without the hott accent. Is that about right?

I remember my first love...7th grade. It seems like so long ago.

He appears to be behaving himself, so no need to conjure up wrath!

Hello, not-Benjamin.

I used to hang out in cemetaries too. We lived across the street from one.....we thought it was cool.

Hi Not-Bejamin!

Heehee, it's just been a Myspace kind of month, I guess.

Hi, Not-Benjamin.

Oh, MAN. That was painful to read. At least my first love had the decency to turn out to be Incredibly Gay, and also to tell me that before I professed my undying love to him. (It was only 30 seconds before, but still before!)

Also, dorks are WAY hott, but boys just aren't able to appreciate that kind of thing until at least college.

Also also, hello, Not-Benjamin! Be nice to Beth or I will send my band of trained attack cats after you!

aww! that's so cute :) hi, not-benjamin!! :D

Not-Benjamin, did you ever have a crush on our dear, sweet Beth? When you said that you loved her, was it really bait for her to be sarcastic, or were you using the baiting technique as a cover to say what you really wanted to say to her all along.

And what ever happened to the real Benji?

My space is a little scary - the far reaching hand-tentacles of my space. eeek!

Hi, not-Benjamin.

What a great story! I have a similar one for my BIGGEST high school love! Short story: 8 years later, found him on myspace, talked to him on IM, and sent him the link to a post I did last summer about him...ACK! Really, just needed to get all those feelings OUT THERE! Have talked to him a few times since and he's a GREAT guy!

Awww, that was sweet and BRAVE! I'm glad Not-Benjamin posted a nice reply 'cause we internets could really open up a can of virtual
I'd like to find my first love just to see what he's been up to over the past 20 years. Hmmm...

I was expecting to hear that Not-Benjamin was a well-known writer, and you had just read in Entertainment Weekly that he had a book published, and that you drove down to the bookstore and found his book and looked at the author picture, and YES, HOLY FUCK it was HIM! and you hated him for having a book published first because YOU were supposed to do that.

Because that happened to me, and his name is Brady Udall. Google him.

Hi Not-Benjamin! Wow, Beth, I don't know if I'd have it in me to post that story knowing my first love was going to see it. I'm impressed, and not only by the guts it took to write that, but also by the way it was written. You are talented.

I actully *did* think you meant Private Benjamin. Heh.

I was just thinking about my own not-Benjamin while doing dishes tonight. Get outta my head, Beth. ;)

Hi, not-Benjamin.

Such sweetness.

Aw. You are so adorable! As is not-Benjamin. Man...memories of first love...that can be sooo fun. Good writing, missy.

Hi There, Not-Benjamin.

How sweet of you to be the very first commentor here. You sound super cool. Oh, and Beth is a new through-the-internet-waves-or-whatever friend of mine (I can call you that, right Beth? I mean, either "friend" or "stalker" - friend sounds so much, well, friendlier, doesn't it?) so I hope you "stay cool, never change and keep in touch." (as quoted from all Jr. High and High School yearbooks everywhere.)

Great post, Beth. Thanks for sharing.

Amy :)

ok I might love not-ben based solely on his comment.

Also, My Own Private Idaho is one f-ed up Movie Beth.

I heart you for that.

Hi, not-Benjamin!

My story isn't nearly as sweet as yours. I decided to look up a former boyfriend of mine from high school and the only thing I could find was documentation of a criminal trial where apparently he had robbed a convenience store for some drug money. Boy do I know how to pick 'em.

This was lovely. Is anything more awkward than junior high? Ack. So glad to see Not-Benjamin turned out to be worthy of your attention. Hi there!

Beth, you made him so vivid, I'm in love with him myself. Plus, just like a previous post said, it made me remember my own Not-Benjamin. Hi, Not-Benjamin! And I, too, want to know if you ever had a crush on Beth.

Glad you didn't marry Not-Benjamin, cuz then we'd have Not-Chris and that would be sad. Even sadder, we'd have Not-Mia.

Great story, made me remember my first love who shall remain a NOT and we'll leave it at that.
More photos of the Bean, please. BTW, Please, pretty please, email your mailing address. Auntie Anni has a present for Mia's 1st birthday. . .She is a July baby like me and Uncle Ander!

Anni :-)

PS Hi, Not-Benjamin. Didn't mean any offense.
You're cool with that, right?

Anni :-)

Hi not-Benjamin...

Yeah, I live in the small podunk town where I went to high school. I run into my ex's (or their wives) at the grocery store. I can't even remember the swoony days now that they are balding and getting fat.

The one more 'mysterious' guy from my past now lives the next town over and works at a Pizza Hut (and not even in "management"!). So tragic. So NOT hott.

Hi, Not-Benjamin! I should offer my condolences to you.... for missing-out on the oh-so-fabulous Beth. :-)

Aaaawwwww.....I'm all warm and fuzzy all over...Hugs...

I know we're mostly married mothers here (I think?) but does it seem to anyone else like we're flirting just a little bit with Not-Benjamin? I'm conjuring up a Joey Tribbiani voice here, "Howyou doin'?"

Hi, Not-Benjamin. ;)

Beth, you're indeed very brave for posting that story. I have had a tendency in the past to just wait until I've had many beers to confess to former crushes that I had a WICKED crush on them in high school. The last time I did that I never heard the end of it because it was at my brother's 40th birthday party, to his buddy in high school. He acted appropriately flattered, but really he must have been thinking, "Please. Stop. You had buck teeth and braces and glasses. It was horrifying." And would have been illegal. But I digress.

I love this post. It reminds me of my own years in Junior High (but at my school it was a heart shaped suckers we sent for .50 cents and not a flower).

Anyway, my favorite part about this post is that not-Benjamin was the first to comment. Which means he is really reading this blog.

(Oh, and I found an old boyfriend on Myspace. Do I contact him or will he take that to mean "I want to leave my husband for you", which I don't! I also found my ex-husband. And I WILL NOT contact him. No, I will let him continue to be a loser on Myspace. And I will stalk him [and his new loser wife] from afar. I am sick.)

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So the Fish Said...

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