Jender Bender


Ben and I liked to consider ourselves the original Will and Grace.   Our sarcastic personalities and codependent intertwined friendship is where the similarities stop, however.   Our Los Angeles residences were never very swanky although I can attest that Ben’s digs were always way more vogue than mine.  He actually had furniture, for starters.  And real dishes.

However, the chemistry between the main characters always made us laugh.  We often found ourselves finishing each others sentences and reading each other’s mood with a glance.  He was better than a brother or a sister, he was both.  He was bitter, surly, and hilarious.  Will can be a bit caustic and cranky.  One of the things Ben was constantly saying to me was “don’t fuck up”, in a clenched-teeth-side-whisper-kinda way.  Sweetly encouraging, isn’t it?  Grace, of course, is a free spirit but unorganized and a bit of a chaotic train wreck.  I *may* resemble her from time to time.   Just like the characters in the show, together we found we filled in each other’s blanks and we often remarked that we had finally fused into one big bitch.  His strengths were often my weakness and vice versa.  Except booze, we were both slaves to the sauce.  And happily.

People often referred to us as “Bennifer”, as we were always together and super annoying and most folks begrudgingly accepted us as a package deal.  We sometimes laughed and called ourselves Jender Bender because our stereotypical gender roles were often reversed.  I’d change his flat tire, he’d make me a chocolate mousse.  It all worked out, really.  He helped me with fashion and hair and I’d help him unclog his sink drain or hang up some photos.

The only true constant in our friendship was laughter.  My fondest memories are the times NOTHING was special about what we were doing.  There wasn’t a party or a holiday or an occasion or a trip abroad.  You know, just life.  A trip to Ralph’s for beer hamburger buns.   Window shopping on Melrose Blvd.   Sitting at home flipping through magazines.  Eating a taco in a gas station somewhere.

I’m stunned at how much I’m reminded of him daily.  I’ve absently reached for my phone to call him more than a few times and I’m immediately slapped with the painful reality that he’s not going to ever answer the phone again.  There’s some laughter too, of course.  Plenty of times this summer a situation arose that I knew would have delighted him.  I know that Will and Grace coming back to television would have tickled him, too.  I imagine we would’ve watched together on the phone and then dissected and re-hashed every nuance of the show, giggling like ninnies.

Again, this is where the similarities end with our reality and the hit show.  The Will and Grace on TV will likely go on for a few seasons but Ben and I’s traveling show is over.  I guess I just have to hold on to the re-runs in my memories.  I’m looking forward to a day when there is more laughter than tears when I remember.  As I type this my eyes start to well up and I find myself swallowing hard.  He’s only been gone 5 months now but it feels like an eternity to me.  I can’t even bring myself to delete his number from my phone.  I don’t want to delete him.  I want him back.

I had a job interview last week and as I got out of my Jeep and smoothed out the crinkles in my pants I laughed as I heard his voice in my head say sharply,  “Don’t fuck up“!

I smiled and proceeded to enter the building feeling confident and capable.  Then I heard his voice again.

“I can’t believe you wore those shoes.”

I miss him more on some days than others.


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