Thursday, June 02, 2005
farewell to the Hurricane
Yesterday was my roommate Ben’s birthday and his last day at work. Today he leaves NYC to return to Seattle after three years here. I want to assure you that I say the following with a (nearly) unblemished record of heterosexuality, but he will be missed.
I first met Ben in the summer of 2001 and almost immediately we disliked each other. At that time, Ben was spending the summer between his junior and senior years of college interning as a legal assistant. Having graduated in May, I started as a full-time legal assistant in July, a few weeks after Ben. If I recall correctly (and I think I do), Ben was extremely threatened by me.
You see, before Jason moved into town, the law firm was Sheriff Ben's country. Ben was the funny guy who liked to drink, while I was initially shy around my co-workers, unsure of how they would react to me being a borderline pedophile and alcoholic. However, as the summer progressed and I came out of my shell and started to establish myself as the #1 funny guy/drunk, things between Ben and I got more intense and inimical.
The culmination of our dislike for each other came not in the form of a confrontation, but rather in a singular silentious incident. In mid-August, a week or two before Ben was to return to school in Seattle, our law firm had its annual boat cruise for the legal assistants. This was back in 2001, when law firms, banks and pretty much every other business had money to burn on things like a five-hour open bar boat cruise around New York harbor for a bunch of spoiled 22 and 23 year-olds who were already making $60,000 a year. This was my first experience with the work open bar and I learned that night what would be cemented over the years: people always hook up at these things. Always. Everyone ends up making out, even the guy with the one stumpy arm and the Hungarian girl with b.o.
And so, drunk and sexual predator that I am, I was on the prowl. Ben, drunk and sexual predator that he is, was also on the prowl (you can probably see where this is going). The boat cruise ended and legal assistants dispersed all over the city to other bars. On this particular night, I had my eye on a co-worker who I later became good friends with, Jessica. Ben was after another co-worker, Jessica's friend and sexpot/minx, Lindsay. Lindsay and Jessica were glued at the hip, forming the defensive position that girls often take when they realize they have had too much to drink and are being relentlessly hit on, and finally decided to go to some bar around Union Square. And so it seemed that everything was in place: I get Jessica, Ben gets Lindsay. It was an uneasy alliance between Ben and I, but one I was willing to commit to for the sake of some drunken smooching. Done and done.
But here is where it got confusing. Not so surprisingly, Jessica was not interested in me, but rather was interested in another guy we worked with, Jake. I was not deterred by this (thank you, Mr. Stolichnaya) and so what resulted was an awkward cab ride: Ben and Lindsay, Jessica and Jake, and me, in the front seat talking to the Indian cab drive about the "fucking British" and the decline of the Mughal Empire (in some academic circles, namely in my fantasy baseball league, I’m considered an expert on eighteenth and nineteenth century India).
While I thought it was pretty clear that I was (unsuccessfully) going after Jessica, Ben thought I was encroaching on his territory and trying to make a move on Lindsay. The result was that he was a total dick to me and while waiting in line at the bar said to Lindsay, “Hey, why don’t we go get some pizza?” Ben and Lindsay walked away to ultimately explore each other in the dark and left me there with Jake and Jessica, who were giving me the “Um, can you leave now so we can kiss?” look. I think I mentioned something about making a cell phone call, walked around the corner, and caught a cab back to Brooklyn. Though one of my first big nights out in New York City, it was a theme that would recur over and over again over the next few years: me, drunk, going home alone in a cab. Sweet.
(Editor’s Note: I was dating a girl at this time, but I don’t see how that’s important here. Thank you.)
And so Ben and I never spoke again after that night. A week or two later, he returned to Seattle and I stayed at the law firm, slowly growing to hate my job and questioning my existence. The following summer of 2002, Ben was to return to the law firm as a full-time legal assistant. A few days before his arrival, I got a call from the legal assistant recruiter:
Recruiter: "Hi Jason, how are you?"
Recruiter: "Great. Listen, you remember Ben Luce, right?"
Recruiter: "Well, he's starting next week and I'd like you to be his mentor."
I don't know exactly why I was picked by the powers-that-be to be Ben's mentor, but I'm guessing the logic behind it was, "Well, they're both fat and they both smell like beer and sauerkraut, so let's put them together." Being a mentor didn't mean much, just that I had to take Ben out for an introductory lunch and then answer any questions he might have in his first few days or weeks at the firm. Since it was on the firm's dime and since the idea of Ben and I sitting in a restaurant sharing a meal and trying to hide our contempt for each other wasn't too appealing to me, I invited a handful of other legal assistants out with us.
As they say, time heals all wounds. At lunch, Ben and I sort of let bygones be bygones and each had about five beers in an hour. When I got back to work, I actually feel asleep at my desk. I got an email from Ben saying something about how his burger and his Guinness made him shit three times in the afternoon. A prodigious pooper myself, I was impressed.
And the rest is history. Not to toot our own horns, but Ben and I and our friend Nevin were pretty much the social guys at work. We were always up for grabbing a beer after work, talking shit about nerdy co-workers, and generally contributing to the deterioration of our health with alcohol or overeating. Also, for two fat guys, Ben and I simply crushed at work, making out with or sleeping with eleven girls that we worked with between us (none at the same time or anything kinky like that), and I may be missing one or two (there was only one overlap and sadly, Ben was with her first - crap).
There is so much to say about Ben but so little desire for me to say it, as I am pretty fucking hungover right now from his going away party last night. But if there's one thing to know about Ben Luce, it's that he drinks like no man I have ever seen. A quick story as evidence: I introduced Ben, who was then just my co-worker and not yet my roommate, to my roommate Brian (at the time Ben was living in Brooklyn and Brian and I were living with a girl - seriously). The first night Ben and Brian hung out together without me, Ben came over to our place to have some beers. "Some" turned into "enough to kill a rhinoceros". Brian, new to Ben's drinking habits, was so astounded by how much and how quickly Ben was drinking that when Ben would get up to go to the bathroom, Brian would write down how much he was putting away in order to show me later. It was that unbelievable.
And there are so many stories, but again, my brain is hemorrhaging and I'm running on fumes here. Stories like Ben going to an all you can drink lunch, then a Yankee game, then an all you can drink dinner, then showing up at our door shirtless, covered in vomit and suffering heat stroke; Ben coming up to BC with me for a football game, drinking all day at a tailgate, then collapsing in the kitchen of a party, then falling down the stairs of the house (one of the most hilarious things I've ever seen); Ben sitting on a bar stool, and out of nowhere falling off the bar stool and crashing to the ground, cutting his hand on his pint glass (also one of the most hilarious things I've ever seen); Ben coming home drunk at 3 in the morning on a random Wednesday night, making more noise than humanly possible and earning his nickname "Hurricane", calling Brian and I "pussies" because we were asleep, and then waking up to find pieces of a Big Mac, french fries, and Chicken McNuggets strewn about the apartment; etc.
But it is not the big things - the ridiculously funny stories, the drinking antics, the overall debauchery - that I will miss most. In addition to being an exemplary drinker, Ben is also one of the nicest guys on the planet. He's bought me many a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich when I was hungover and never once minded that I constantly drank any gatorade he left in the fridge (or at least never complained about it). I think that's why Ben and I get/got along so well; all I do is take-take-take and he just doesn't care and is down for whatever.
And now The Hurricane is leaving New York City. I hope that the quaint city of Seattle is ready and currently stocking up on the Budweiser, Aleve, and Unisom in preparation. And if there is not a 24 hour diner that delivers there, I am sure that Ben will start one himself just to ensure that after a night of boozing he can get his cheeseburger and onion rings. Brian and I will carry on as usual in NYC, but it will not be the same (i.e. it will be a lot quieter and there will be many less empty beer cans covering the living room table). Ben will be back to visit (I don't think he could stay away from the burrito at Festival Mexicano if he tried) and perhaps Brian and I will make a trip out to Seattle, but I doubt it. I don't fly well and Brian isn't legally allowed to leave the state. Oh well.
But we all had a good run. Good luck to both Ben and to Seattle. Brian and I promise to have about sixty drinks for you this weekend. And probably the next. And maybe twenty or so next Thursday. And most likely some drugs too. You get it.