Ben is a comedian and podcaster who lives at the intersection of Stockholm and Myrtle in a basement apartment with a floor covered in piles of wrinkled clothes and opened wrappers and dirty dishes and drugs. Ben is a 33-year-old I met when I just turned 20 and was trying to get over someone else, and we would hook up routinely because he was a five-minute walk away. Ben could never fuck at a normal pace because he would come too fast, so he would constantly tell me to stay still for minutes at a time. Ben would have an excuse like, "I haven't masturbated in a while." Ben's initials are fittingly "BS." Ben and I hooked up for the first time without me knowing that he was in an open relationship, which I found out afterwards by listening to his podcast. Ben talked about me on said podcast, making fun of me so I assumed we were done, and then he texted me a week later and I was intrigued by his desire. Ben, I would later learn, is relentless and careless with his desire, wielding it like a weapon. Ben would say "See you in a couple days" whenever I said I didn't want to see him again and it was the last time. Ben was right when he would say that because I was bored and like I said he was five minutes away. Ben would bribe me with nicotine, hand-rolled cigarettes that I could never master the art of. Ben threw comedy shows in his backyard, where comedians would have to find creative ways to cope with the disruptive rattling of the M train every ten minutes. Ben would not believe me when I tried to break it off for real because I wanted a boyfriend. Ben thought that I was lying or that I didn't know what was right for me but he did. Ben would notice when I took note of something he said and wanted to use it in a piece and he would tell me to give him credit. Ben was wary about me writing about him because it made him realize what kind of person he was. Ben never wanted me to use his name in my writing. Ben knew he was childish but he didn't care. Ben would hook up with three girls in a week and still beg me to come over. Ben would ask me if I wanted ketamine or coke and when I would say no he would ask why and I would say because I didn't want it and then he would ask why and I would say because I didn't want it and then he would say he felt weird doing it by himself and then he would do it by himself anyway. Ben liked to do poppers too and the smell nauseated me when he sniffed it and then put it back in between the cushions of his couch. Ben had a hamster named Midge he inherited from his breakup and when he went to Texas to do comedy shows he realized he forgot about Midge and she died. Ben had orgies with queer people in Dallas and then discussed them in detail on his podcast and misgendered them so they made tweets and hashtags about how he should be
canceled and is a hamster killer. Ben put Midge's cage outside on the Bushwick sidewalk with dead Midge still inside of it. Ben told me about a girl my age he hooked up with a few times who was considering canceling him because her therapist agreed that he had groomed her. Ben believed he had done nothing wrong and so did I because I thought he was an annoying shithead at best but not a groomer, that would take too much effort. Ben's jokes aren't that good; the only one that does well is: "Is anyone here in an open relationship? [someone woos] Oh I see, you fell for that pyramid scheme of love also," and then he would talk about his polyamarous ex who ruined Deerhunter for him by dating the drummer. The night I blocked him for good, Ben got angry with me for mentioning my age in front of his friends: "They know something is going on between us, and they're the type to cancel someone over that," he said when we were safely away, tucked inside a bodega getting cigarettes. Ben is someone I had to block on: iMessage, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok. Ben sent me an email since I started writing this piece with the subject line: "It's come to email," one year, one month, and 15 days since we last saw each other. I smiled.