2007-03-06: Being Benjamin

Starring:

Elena_icon.gif Ramon_icon.gif Benjamin_icon.gif

Date It Happened: March 06, 2007

Summary: The long overdue dinner with the Gomez's finally happens!

Log Title Being Benjamin


Gomez's Apartment

Finally. The Dinner That Was Long Overdue is….due today. There are plates set, the utensils cleaned, and the placemats broken out and arranged in the small kitchen table. The other Gomez children have been at their grandmother's for a while, so it would be just the three of them as opposed to the six that was earlier anticipated. The smell of spices waft from the kitchen as Elena checks on the pot set on open flame. Steam comes out from the top, and she nods in satisfaction as she sees the corn husks within.

Homemade tamales. She doubts they'll be as good as Catalina made them, but she'll do her best.

She's also got some seasoned rice simmering in the other pot, as well as savory carnitas to eat with the tamales. The condiments are already set up in the middle of the table, and she goes to the refrigerator to pull out the pitcher of Sangria that she managed to make with some reasonably-priced wine and some fruit on ice.

Ramon comes in with cold beer. "We're all adults here," he'd growled on his way out. He comes in with cold beer, and fresh limes, and that is his contribution to the dinner, other than the fact that he actually handled quite a bit of the cleaning. Earlier that day he'd spent some quality time with Elena's data disk, encrypting the crap out of it, and then encrypting the crap out of the encrypted crap, and then encrypting it again. But now none of the weirdness is too firmly on his mind. He's actually relaxing a bit.

Still dressed for work, Benjamin headed straight for the Gomez residence after leaving the office. Along the way, he purchased a recommended Sangria. (after consulting at a liqour store what might be appropriate to drink with the meal.) It is also considered polite to bring a bottle of wine or such to a dinner as a gift. He's just on time it seems as he knocks upon Gomez's door.

She tastes the Sangria a bit and works it around her mouth a little bit. While she didn't usually drink, she promised an authentic dinner so she's doing her best to deliver. She sticks the pitcher back in the fridge, and bustles about in the kitchen. She'll let Ramon get that. Meanwhile, the tamales are done. So Elena takes a plate, and starts putting in the pieces there, still wrapped in the corn husks the way they should be. She's looking forward to this really, it's been a really long time since they've had guests, and she hasn't made a meal like this in quite a while.

Ramon answers the door. "Come in," he says, with a hint of a grin flickering briefly across his face. "Make yourself at home. The rest of the kids aren't here, which means there's plenty of space." His eyes fall on the Sangria and something passes across his face which looks pleased, though as flat as he so often looks its very hard to tell.

Benjamin can already smell the meal out in the hallway, and it's got his mouth watering to be honest about it. When the door opens, he offers up the bottle of Sangria, "I hope this is alright, I don't really make buying alcohol a habit and.. it's a thank you for the dinner." And good manners. "Everything smells delicious so far. I admit.. I skipped lunch, because I was looking forward to this." He sounds a bit, abashed at the admittance.

"I'm glad to hear it," Elena peeks out from the kitchen after setting the food on the table. She's grinning from ear to ear - she looks exhausted, but she's at the very least smiling. She can loosen up, just this once, especially after everything. And cooking, to her, was therapeutic. "You're so awesome, Mr. Winters." She looks at the Sangria bottle - and decides she'll use that instead of the one she made. Just to show Benjamin it's appreciated. "Have a seat! Dinner's ready."

"You will be well rewarded," Ramon promises. "Thank you for the gift." He goes to get a bottle opener for that and then shows Benji to his chair. He himself sits down — he has a suspicion that if he touches food to do more than eat it the stuff will spontaneously combust, so he'll let Elena go ahead and get it on the table.

Benjamin smiles over at Elena as he steps into the apartment. "I'm glad to see you're in a better mood now." An embarrassed flush covers his cheeks at Elena's praise as he takes an offered seat. "You're welcome, I think my mother would come at me with a broom if I forgot my manners." And possibly box his ears, or embarrass him in general.

"Cooking is therapeutic to me, it always has been," Elena says with a laugh. "Go figure huh? I'm always busy but in order to make me happy, I have to -keep- busy. Besides, it's been a while since I cooked something like this. It's….it was my mother's recipe, but I can never do it as well as she does. I hope it passes muster anyways." She takes a serving bowl of rice, flavored with chicken broth and seasoned, as well as the tamales and carnitas to the table, putting it all in the middle. She'll also take the Sangria, gets another pitcher, and quickly chops up some fruit and grabs some more ice from the fridge to make a fresh batch. No need to let Benji know she already made some. But this is rather quick, and pretty soon, there's some Sangria for everyone as well.

"She's lying, she does fine," Ramon says gruffly as he passes serving plates and bowls around after taking his own share, once Elena has sat down. "Do you say grace, Benjamin? And if your mother comes in here with a broom? We will feed her, and tame the beast."

"That's good to hear, I got worried about you earlier." Benjamin smiles at father and daughter. "Based on how things smell, I don't think I'll have a bad word to say about dinner." He kinda figured Elena's being modest, but he nods all the same to Ramon. "No, I usually don't, but if you do, go right ahead." He'll be respectful of any tradition or practice the Gomez's have. "Then she'll pull out the embarrassing photos.. and.. nevermind."

"Papa can say Grace," Elena says, taking a seat. She looks hungry herself, but she's just finished pouring some glasses of Sangria and sets them around the table. At Benjamin's words, she can't help but smile at him. "I'm sorry for worrying you. I've just had a really rough couple of days. I just have to accept that I won't be able to do everything at once, you know?"

"In the name of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit." Ramon crosses himself, then leads into "Bless us, Oh Lord." Bless us oh Lord, and these, thy gifts, which we are about to receive through the bounty of Christ, Amen. It's said in English tonight for Benjamin's benefit. He listens to Elena talk and looks over at the accountant. "I can't keep up with my daughter these days," he admits.

Benjamin nods across at Elena, he knows that feeling. The Sangria is given a brief, wary look. Stick to one glass, and he'll be alright. As Ramon says Grace, he bows his head respectfully throughout the process. Once it's over, he raises his head to divide his attention between the two family members. "I.. don't even think I want to try and keep up with Rose. I have a hard enough time keeping up with myself some days."

"I wish I could relax one day," Elena says ruefully. "I could certainly use the sleep, but it's midterms crunch, and then the Dance Corps, my part-time job. I've been trying to scope out whatever internships I can find in research institutions over the summer too but I haven't had much luck with that….they mostly want graduate students these days and I'm only a freshman in college. And then there are the people who visit me at work, the people I see outside of work…" She laughs. "I wish I could clone myself." Unaware, of course, that a certain friend of Eric's could do the very thing.

Ramon doesn't know that, but he sort of gets this pained grimace on his face. A pained grimace of OMG DO NOT GO THERE. He takes a long drag on his sangria to just…aid in the process of Not Going There. "Have you gotten a chance to sit down and talk to her?"

"No wonder you seem stretched a little thin." Which is an understatement. Benjamin glances at Elena, then muses aloud, "I wonder if there's an ability like that.. there seems to be one for everything almost." He takes a sip of his Sangria, it's a small one, and maybe he won't go too goofy with food in his stomach. "A couple of times.. I'm just.. having a hard time connecting with her."

"Maybe. I'm not surprised anymore," Elena groans. Okay so maybe that's a lie. She almost fell on her butt when Jack showed her his. She picks up a serving platter, that with the tamales, and passes it over to the guest. Benjamin did say he was hungry, and he was also the guest. To her father, she passes the rice. Benjamin and Ramon can just exchange plates after they're done with theirs. But at his bit with Rose, she listens, falling silent. Her father would probably have some insight.

Ramon, as usual, just doesn't answer right away. He has to think this through. He's got to settle the food on his plate and take a few bites while he mulls it over. He speaks in his own good time, and says at last, "My guess is that she's feeling as clueless and as lost as you are. Unfortunately, if that led to solutions I'd have something figured out about Manny by now, and the best I've gotten to is lock him in a closet till he gets over it."

Benjamin takes the platter and helps himself to a first serving, passing the platter on once he's done. This is kind of weird for him, not used to anything resembling a larger meal. "You're probably right. I know already that she keeps things under wraps.. like when we got spooked at the park on Sunday, she covered it pretty good." He does laugh at Ramon's solution though.

"Was that the event you were talking to me about a couple of days ago, Mr. Winters?" Elena says, glancing over to Ramon. "Someone scared him and Rose while they were walking in the park. The man was carrying a sword. A sword of all things. I thought that stuff only happened in John Woo movies." She takes some carnitas into her plate, and takes the plate of tamales whenever it is passed onto her. But at his solution on Manny, she can't help but quirk a smile. This isn't the first time her father has said something like that about her brother.

Ramon's eye sort of twitches at this story. "Some guy mugged you with a sword?" He decides to pour a little more sangria for himself. "Are you both alright?" He eyes Benjamin, but he certainly doesn't see any gaping sword wounds or anything.

"Yeah, that's the one. I've heard about people being accosted or robbed at gunpoint, but never having a sword pulled on them." Benjamin continues with the plate pass around and serving. "No, he didn't mug us. That's the thing. He was just.. creepy.. he seemed.. I don't know, more interested in Rose. I hope he wasn't a serial rapist or something. I put him to sleep.. and we ran for it. He also had a gun he was trying to pull out."

"More interested in Rose?" Elena says, looking startled. "That IS really creepy. No wonder you were a little wigged out." She would be too. Her father would've just brought out the van and rolled the sucker over. But that was her father, he was like a direwolf if his own were ever threatened. At least, this is what she believes anyway. She takes a sip of her Sangria, and starts digging into her tamale. God, she was so hungry. "How old was he?" she asks. "About middle aged? That's usually how it starts, and Rose looks really young."

Ramon's eye starts twitching like that direwolf. "It is a good thing that God did not grant me the power to put people to sleep," he says gruffly. He'd have put the man to sleep and then stomped his face again and again and again and…he takes a bite.

"Uhm… he looked youngish.. maybe in his twenties, I really.. didn't pay attention to his age. He just.. he was too creepy." Benjamin admits. "I did the only thing I knew how to do." THen, he's waited long enough and he digs into his meal. As he did with the cake, his enjoyment of the meal is written all over his face. Wait, what? Ramon said somethi.. oh yeah. Waiting for his mouthful to be swallowed he looks to Ramon. "I just wanted to get Rose out of that situation. I mean, the guy had a gun and a sword.. So I put him to sleep, we ran and I called the police after him."

"You did good, Mr. Winters," Elena says, nodding in approval. For all Benjamin's mildmanneredness and cluelessness towards having a teenaged daughter, the Sandman wields the most powerful weapon of all: Common Sense. …………the second would be a pair of legs that he uses smartly to run with. She takes a sample of her tamale, and by the look on her face, it looks like she's still not satisfied with it despite attempting to copy her mother's take on it numerous times. But she eats. Because she's hungry. She was busy, and exhausted, and food helps with that.

"Ought to have taken that gun," Ramon says sagely. "Next time, you take that gun, and then you press it right to the man's balls. And you wake him up and you say, I don't know who you are, you sorry spawn of a diseased whore's morning after remorse, but if you look sideways at my daughter one more time, I will first blow off the right one, and then? I will blow off the left one." Ramon thinks for a moment, then shakes his head. "If you had my accent this would be scarier, but alas."

There's the slightest twinkle in his eyes though.

If Elena's not satisfied that the meal is to her expectations, Benjamin doesn't notice. As far as he's concerned, his days of Mexican restaurants are over. Just as he takes a drink of Sangria, he starts to choke at Ramon's words. The glass is set down and he thumbs a fist against his chest. He's shocked, amused, and horrified at once!

She stares at her father, wide-eyed, and then? Elena….bursts out laughing. And then she chokes a little bit on a piece of corn husk. " *coughcoughcoughcough*….Papa!" But oh god. Oh god. She needed that. She could see it too, in her head….

Ramon, wearing a black trench-coat and his teeth clamped around a stub of a cigar, the cherry burning with a red as angry as Fatherly Rage would allow. He strides over to the Anonymous Sword Wielding Man as he's down on the ground, grabs his own gun from his flailing grip, and pops a couple of caps at the crotch area. Of course, since Elena's brain is still somewhat stuck in the PG-13 range, the camera pan is from the back of Anonymous Sword Wielding Man's head so one doesn't see the bullets go in. Just the little messy splatters of blood that fly off. This is proceeded by ASWM's screaming, clutching between his legs, and screaming about how the severe trauma inflicted through the epidermis and into his testes have effectively eradicated the mutant seed he was going to use to populate the world with his Anonymous Sword Wielding Spawn, which was his dastardly plan in the first place.

She stops laughing, and takes a gulp of her Sangria.

Ramon grins to see the reaction — a pretty darn good grin while he's at it. Somewhere in all this he is, oddly enough, healing of what had kept him from ever smiling when all this got started. When things get scary sometimes all that's left is laughter. He reaches over to clap Benji twice on the back, smirking. No dying. Its a waste of a good dinner.

Once Benjamin gets over the shock, he too starts laughing. A cough is heaved out at the slap from Ramon, who's given a thankful look. No, he's not going to die. Tonight anyway. He gives the elder man a thumbs up to signify he's good now. Another drink of Sangria is taken now to clear his throat, and he does not choke on this one.

She wipes a tear from her eye, Elena grinning over at her father before taking a sip of her own Sangria. She didn't usually drink - but Sangria barely counts as alcohol anyway, what with the ice and fruit. She takes another several quick bites of her meal before looking up. "Oh, Papa, I forgot to tell you but a friend of mine tells me Mr. Winters can sing very well," she says, grinning impishly over at Benjamin. SEE YOU RUN AWAY FROM IT THIS TIME, BENNY BOY.

"Sing?" Ramon asks, looking over at Benjamin, eyebrows lifting. He wants to know about this. "I must admit this is something I never would have suspected about you. What were you singing?"
In goes another bite, and the timing is just not on Benjamin's side tonight. He chokes and coughs, forcing it down. Eyes watering, he throws Elena a panicked expression, but not for the coughing fit. Can't talk. Coughing. Will hide under table now.

She smiles over at Ramon. "I wasn't there, so I don't know. I heard it second hand. A friend of mine thinks he's a good singer," she says. "But Mr. Winters likes classic rock, apparently." She looks over at Benjamin. "What kind? Like the Beach Boys and the Beatles?" she asks. She honestly wants to know. Ramon probably knew Benjamin better, but save for the fact that he has a daughter, is an accountant, and can sing? She knows very little about him.

"I don't think he wants to talk about it," Ramon observes in rather sage fashion as he…leans over to clap a hand on his back again. He decides to refill Benji's sangria as it all keeps going down the wrong way. "He is not going to enjoy the meal," he observes ruefully, "If we keep forcing him to take it down the wrong pipe."

Benjamin is just.. very embarrassed. And anything Ramon's picking up off the guy, think about taking an introvert and shy individual, throwing them on stage at a packed house at Madison Square Garden, that's about how Ben's feeling right now. "It… it's no big deal.. really.. Jane.. she was just.. being nice and.. giving me a hard time." Another drink is taken, and sure Sangria is a very weak drink.. it's still going to catch up with the guy. "I.. like all kinds of music.. It's okay. I.. also sometimes.. do impersonations." Once he's warmed up enough to people. It's just, been a really long time since he last really used that sense of humor he has buried deep down.

"Wow Mr. Winters. Did you used to do…..I don't know. Theater or something?" Elena asks, propping her chin on one hand as she smiles openly at Benjamin. She's trying her best to get him to lighten up and revel with being Benjamin for a few moments. "I think all I can do on stage is dance. That's about as artistic as I can get. I'm too much of a nerd, I think, to be able to do anything really creative like act or sing."

Ramon has already displayed his only artistry, but he looks intrigued too. "Like politicians and stuff?" he asks. He can relate to having difficulties relaxing though, so he is trying not to push too terribly hard. He finishes off his drink and pours another as well, then starts serving himself seconds. He always polishes off his daughter's food fast.

Benjamin shakes his head frantically. In between all of this, he's working on his first helping, and having no difficulties draining the Sangria. "Some," he says, looking like he's at least trying to open up. He's been an introvert all his life, but it's only been in the past year he's clammed up tight. "Not very often though." Just on a rare display of when he feels comfortable enough. He's just about ready for a second helping himself now.

She smiles, still watching Benjamin from where she's seated, but Elena doesn't push into it. She can try, but these things just sort of come out really. But she just watches both men gorge on her food - it gives her more satisfaction than actually eating it. And then, her cherry red phone rings from the kitchen counter. The ringtone is from 'Canned Heat' by Jamiroquai….which means it was Tia, probably bugging Elena yet again about dance stuff. And with the competition coming up next week…

"Papa, I'm sorry, I'll have to take that," she says, standing up. "Mr. Winters, please help yourself." And then she goes to grab the phone off the counter, and head for her room to chat with her group leader. And thus, leaves the men to talk.

Ramon simply nods when Elena takes the call, though he shoots her a worried look. He chews for a long moment, then admits, "I'm not always sure what to say either. You know? You go for this whole long while, going through motions, and when you branch out finally it can be sort of crazy, trying to figure out how to do it."

Benjamin nods to Elena as she goes to answer her phone. He looks to Ramon, not quite sure of what to say to that. So quietly helps himself to another spoonful of rice. "Then you have a crazy period of months, where your whole world is just.. upside down."

"The upside down is eventually going to look like the new normal," Ramon says after a long moment's thought. "That's what happened to me, last time my life was turned upside down. One morning I woke up, and all the new facts of my life were not new, they just were the facts of my life. I expect the same will happen with all this madness."

"That.. probably makes the most sense of anything I've been told." Benjamin says in between a few thoughtful bites of tamales. "I struggled to come to grips for so long.. what went wrong in my marriage, the divorce, all of the paranoia, one thing after another." Another drink, then, "It's insane, it's dangerous, it drives me up the wall, but I feel alive."

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