I’ve known Ben (AKA Salty Ned AKA GentlBen7 AKA Nedriguez AKA Little Bennie Half Ass) for most of my life. In the days before we were totes BFFs Ben was the tall (like, really tall) kid from another school that played on all of our YMCA teams. We didn’t spend much time together outside our crappy, uncoordinated upper-middle class youth teams. And when Ben finally started attending the same school as me (Carmel Middle), we weren’t exactly besties either, although our paths certainly crossed.
No, the greatest bromance in modern history didn’t really start until High School. Ben was the first one of my peer group to turn 16, and not content driving around in a hand-me-down minivan or piece of shit Chevy Cavalier (yeah, that was me), Neddie rolled in a classic BMW 2002 that smelled like old leather and class.
We drove around listening to almost nothing except the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and Men at Work’s Business as Usual.
Ben lived in the boonies at the time, so he’d come over to my house and hang out before basketball practice pretty much every day and we just kind of adopted him on a part-time basis.
My parents never really treated me like a kid (I think my sister wore them out), so I could do pretty much anything I wanted. This, of course, meant that I rarely did anything bad. And it’s not like Ben and I got stoned and drunk all the time (in fact, I’m a little ashamed to admit that we never did–not once), but I don’t think Ben’s parents (Big Don and Collette) liked it one bit. I don’t know if was that I looked lost and confused when they said Grace once before a meal, or if it was the fact that I didn’t like lima beans, but I’m convinced that Big Don had it out for me for being a bad influence on Little Bennie Half Ass. Here’s a picture of Big Don:
Mean, right? To be fair, I had no idea how to relate to an adult. But don’t worry, because after a year or so (once I learned some manners) Big Don and I become besties also, and he’s pretty much a second dad to me now (Big Don doesn’t hug you, he tries to crush your spine with love).
Since high school, despite never living in the same town, Ben and I have remained closer than close and cemented our bromance by taking a brocation together to Maui this last summer.
I SWEAR we’re not gay. Well, at least I’m not.
Anyway, the short of it is this, there are very few people I’d consider a brother but Salty Ned is definitely a part of that very small club. So to mi amigo, the one-and-only Neduardo, I’d like to wish a happy birthday and very merry Christmas, NotZombies style:
Happy Birthday Benjamin.