As soon as I saw the DEFINING MOMENT prompt I knew there was a post inside of me, it just took me a while to figure it out. Now I have only a little time before Ben and I are going away, so I might not be able to do it justice. For that reason I am going to ask for help from Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman (what did go wrong with those two? I still don’t get it!)
To cut a very long story short (and as Ben feels comfortable I will explain more in the future), there was a stage when Ben and I were full of “sexual tension” but in a situation where we could not act on it. I am going to try an give you a basic idea now although I will have to elaborate in future posts.
I was aware of Ben. He was aware of me. We had crossed paths (through friends and we had chatted together). I had dated a guy called Benedict who had started working for Ben, and then I saw Ben at some of Benedict’s social events with colleagues. When Benedict and I stopped dating, Benedict told me Ben was interested in me (which was weird). Out of the blue, I was assigned to a project working for the agency Ben works for. I thought it was strange at the time. I was just relieved that I was not working with Benedict. (Later, I found out Ben had manoeuvred matters to get me.)
Very quickly I became frustrated with the team I was working with. Whenever I was trying to ask for ideas, steer them in a certain direction, ask them questions about their current strategies and procedures, I kept on receiving an annoying answer – “We should ask Ben”. I did not know Ben very well back then, so I presumed that he was a control freak who did not allow his staff to think for themselves. What I know now, is that Ben was the best boss ever. His staff all loved him and respected him. But back then, before I learnt that, I became irritated. I became challenging about what I thought was Ben’s totalitarian dictatorship. (He is laughing at me.) I got real shirty with him.
Now, I know that Ben is a mild, sweet tempered man. But when I let my irritation with him show (over my falsely perceiving him as a bullish boss who domineered over his staff) Ben was taken aback. What made it worse was that the reason he had sought for me to be the project manager was that he had a huge crush on me (Ben is nodding). So when I started clashing with him, cold shouldering him, rolling my eyes in disdain, snapping at him, he was like “what the hell is up with this freakin’ dame?”
One day, it came to a head, at work, in the offices we were working, in the earshot of the team I was supervising and a score of other people who worked for the same agency as Ben. It was awful. It takes a hell of a lot to upset Ben, but I had been so rude, so snotty, so disrespectful to him and about him, and he heard me call him a shocking name under my breath, and he snapped back at me. He was so mad. I don’t think I have ever seen him so mad since. He says it was because of how long he had liked me, and he did not understand what had happened since I had started working in his proximity. He was only ever nice to me, so why had I decided to be such a bitch?
Without any heed for what anyone else thought, he called me out. It’s excruciating to think about now. Yet I realize that was our defining moment. It was pure sexual tension. I was resentful that the team I was supervising were so concerned with what Ben thought. I had noticed that Ben was the most attractive man I had seen in a suit. I saw how many female members of the team tried to flirt with Ben and I was suspicious that he gloried in the attention he got from them. He was was trying to treat me professionally in the office and hide the crush he had on me. Pure sexual tension that came up a big messy unprofessional argument in front of a our colleagues. Damn!
The result? Huh…can you guess? How many times did people say to Ben, “Why don’t you just shag her and get it over with?” Everyone else figured it out before we did! But it took a while before Ben and I would finally get our game on. Years in fact. But that argument, was the turning point. Ben was so apologetic, and I was too, genuinely remorseful. I had never behaved like that in my life. Ben says he had never had an argument with a colleague, let alone a woman, so he was shaken up. We both made this huge effort with each other. He invited me out for a drink to make peace. I declined (I felt like a baddie), but instead, I made an effort to ring him, email him, text him, in a cheery friendly way. I felt so bad. I was trying hard to make up for what I had done.
Ben and I became friends. We often found each other in the canteen. The messages and calls became “Do you want to catch that movie you mentioned at lunch?” and “I know this great little bistro where they make the best pumpkin pie” and “I have a spare ticket for the Bulls game on Saturday, are you free?” But he was so careful.
Maybe the argument made him more careful. Ben just shrugged. I think he stalled because, just as how I had jumped to wrong conclusions about him, he had jumped to wrong conclusions about me. Ben thought I was sleeping with a long list of guys who I had been out for coffee or dinner with (I was not!) I was oblivious to Ben’s catching sight of me when I was talking to other men. He saw me smiling and laughing and thought I was a flirt. Hey, I smile and I laugh, that doesn’t mean I let every guy I talk to shag me.
When I finally realized that Ben had presumed a lot about me that was untrue, I was resentful for some time. However, he and I were communicating so openly, Ben was able to remedy the damage done. After what I had done to him in a professional environment, I always felt guilty and with a little buttering from Ben, I could easily let go of any perceived offense. He and I remained friends. In fact, our friendship was steadily deepening and just waiting for the right time for us to act on the feelings that were developing.
Ben was not sure why I was not flirty with him. I was not flirty with Ben because I felt like the world’s worst witch because of how I spoke to him in front of all his staff. I was trying to be on my best behavior. For some reason, being on my best behaviour made want to talk about serious subjects with Ben instead of messing about with him. But overtime, it was the deep discussions we were having that ensured he got beneath my skin. I did not find Ben boring in any way, I found him alluring. He can debate any subject and he has a profound grasp on logical reasoning and emotive persuasion. Ben is very attractive physically, but with his words, he could melt the iciest heart and cause someone to love him.
At the end of that project I mentioned, I went on holiday because I was feeling low. It had been building for a while. I wanted to go away and switch off to work for a while. There I met Simon. I had mind-blowing sex with Simon the first night I met him. I came back from holiday telling everyone about this amazing guy I had met. Simon and I dated for another eighteen months. I have mentioned this before, but if it was not for Simon preferring polygamy to monogamy, I would still be besotted with him. (Ben has a sad face.) But when I finally accepted that Simon was not going to change, Ben was one of the first people to know I was “available”. He did not waste any more time.
See what I mean about this being a long story! Still, I think that argument was the turning point. As I have mentioned, there is more to our story, and I am so glad the way it has worked out. But the argument itself was just like that scene in the movie Far And Away, with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.
If you stick with the RASPBERRY RIPPLES blog, I am sure that overtime I will have reason to write more about how Ben and I eventually became Ben and Jen, the dynamic duo that can’t bear arguing.