Actually pinch him, because his birthday is today.
Ben is forty-six and hasn't matured past midteenage levels, at best but I wouldn't have him any other way. He can be incredibly detail-oriented, deep-feeling and thoughtful when the mood strikes and when it doesn't he's like a force of nature. Who ever said There's a storm coming probably saw him at the end of the road.
He still thinks it's possible to live on chocolate and fast food and that anything healthy is fair game to be thrown, overhand if need be, at someone else. He has learned to curb that over the years, but only by a little. He's the only member of our family who could put the Christmas lights around the edges of the front roof without needing a ladder or a helper and he's insistent that he's going to go to another meeting even if he's been to ten already this week because he promised himself he would be forever straight. He refuses to get his cholesteral checked because Yolo and double Big Macs, Little Bee.
And then he grins and he stops looking like Frankenstein's monster and instead looks like the handsomest man in the history of all time and it's hard not to hand him whatever he wants.
I'm pretty sure that's why Lochlan is with us and that it has less to do with me than you think.
I'm sure of a lot of things with Ben.
But I still treat him with kid gloves even as he shoos me away to go find Loch or Sam or whoever (just not Duncan right now, not these days until I tell you it's okay, Bridge) and he'll frown because he says he doesn't need to be coddled but I know he likes it in the same way he tells me he's far too manly and big for 'lady' bubble baths until I lead him right into one and he settles back with his arms out wide amongst the candles and he puts his head back, closing his eyes before asking if I have any of the lilac soap I love so much and could I wash his shoulders for him and so I swim around to one side and scrub him down and he smells so good and is so relaxed at the end he's usually asleep in seconds and then I tell myself I'm never running a bath for us ever again because it saps his energy.
When he awakens the next morning smelling like lilacs and sunshine he makes up for it without fail.
Who am I kidding? He's a night and a morning guy but only for me. Half the time when they think he's able to somehow sleep for twelve or fifteen hours at a stretch I don't have the heart to point out he hasn't/didn't/can't and we were up all night positively fucking each other into oblivion. I can't say that. Pretty sure it's obvious though and that's fine too.
Tonight is the big huge dinner with both houses here, and yes, I'm making corn dogs. PJ is making lamb (whole legs and all I can picture are fluffy sheep blobs dotting a mountain field) and I am well-prepared for any food fight that may ensue. For the first time in the history of anything I let PJ talk me into having the same company that is coming to clean the boathouse while Caleb is still away do the main house too. It only upped the bill by like a thousand dollars.
Happy birthday Benjamin. I love you so much it's gross. Just like us.