Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ben's Birthday


I've carried his picture in every calendar book I've ever owned. It's a reminder to stand up straight and keep my nose clean.

In this picture he is the young prosecutor of evil politicians in Washington or Samoa or someplace like that. In this picture he is younger by almost several decades than I am now. Yet in this picture he is already a father to two kids and he has agreed to take in one more - his wife's teenage cousin (me). A thirty-something battling injustice with two small kids takes in a teenager? Man, crazy don't even cut it, but he and my cousin did just that.

And once there, he let me punch him as hard as I could, put make-up on him, come home late and, ok occasionally stoned (but only twice with the stone part - well, at least that I can remember), pour new friends into an already kid-filled house, and each time the phone rang, get out of my way as I ran down stairs and through rooms, screaming "IT'S FOR ME!" (It rarely was).

He's now a judge, black robe and everything. And he fights for the American Way - you know, the one we used to have. He's fair and he's smart and that's rare, so bad guys hate him and the rest of us get to breathe easier.

Years ago at another milestone birthday of his (and the one I now face), I thanked him for teaching me who Highly Salassie was, how to play cards without the threat of violence, and that I always had a home and a family. Such small unimportant things. Maybe for others as normal as dinner on the table or milk in the fridge. But they were enough to keep me off the streets and out of bad, bad things. I told him then and today I tell him again:

Because you were a stupid thirty-something taking in an insane teenager I am not dead.

So, Happy Birthday, Ben. Happy, Happy Birthday. Put on that black dress and go kick some bad booty. Me? I'm going to take a deep breathe and give gratitude I'm still around to watch.

6 comments:

Bucko said...

What a mensch! He looks like Clark Kent, sans glasses, and from what you said, he was and still is Superman.

Your words make me look again at the things I've held in my wallet, propped up on my desk, the views I've taken for granted, and the people I say hello to on the street.

Thanks!

Bucko said...

And is that really a dimple on his chin? *sigh*

c.o. moed said...

Yes! That is a dimple and Yes! He IS Superman disguised as Clark Kent! Except when he's trying to get out the house. Which I just want to point out to some readers who might know this - YES! That's where I get it from. Ok?

Anonymous said...

This brought tears to my eyes! What a great guy. What great fortune your bring out in people. Happy birthday, Ben!

Gallivan Burwell said...

Ben became my hero right away when I met him when I was about 10. He was such a mix of tough guy and sweet guy. I remember him in the Goldstein's living room putting his arms around me and kissing me on the top of the head, which was a very Gallivan family thing to do, though at odds with the Mickey Spillane tough guy who told the detective hired by his family to surveil he & Judy for some reason I never grasped, "If I see you again I'll tear you into little pieces and sprinkle you on the sidewalk." No Gallivan ever said such a thing to anybody, but boy, did I wish I could.

cricket said...

Thank you Thank you Thank you Ben that crazy Teenager grew to be my friend and I'm so grateful!!!!!!!!!!!!! To You and all the others who saw what I see.... Awesomeness encased in a gorgeous bod lol mwah