Bored now, so something vaguely cynical and hugely silly.
N.B. This does only apply to duranorak. Anybody else is perfectly free to get into conversation with anyone called Ben, Tom, Alfred or even Egbert. If they really want to.
Also, this is really really overgeneralised and should not be taken as an insult by (or to) anyone called Ben or Tom. I know there are good and lovely ones out there. I just never bloody meet them. :) (Actually I have met two lovely Bens that I can think of, but one of them is very very young and the other is named Ben by choice, not Ben by nature.)
And I am just being very very very silly. Mkay? I don't want to get flamed for this. Please.
All Toms are womanisers. The behaviour of one Thomas Hampson, a baritone of our acquaintance, demonstrates this most clearly - however, this aspect of the Tom's behaviour was also present in Tom Breeze at school. The most heinous Tom from this point of view is however the famous bass Sir Thomas Allen, who appears to be a carefree womaniser, drawing women and girls (including the author) to his side and bewitching them with words before at the last moment revealing that he's married.
This, it must be admitted, is a rare example of fidelity in a Tom. Most Toms are betrayers by nature. One Tom Woolvett (may his Mongolian-speaking, Games-Workshop-loving carcass be mauled by gophers) was essentially the first person to betray and also to destroy the author - the details are too painful (and oh, all right, eight-year-old-ish) to go into.
Toms are callous and wilfully blind to emotion; this was displayed in the person of one Tom Sheffield, who refused to acknowledge (small) tokens of (great) concern from the author or several of her friends when he ended up in hospital for a very mild head injury. To say nothing of Tom Woolvett, but then, it's always better to say nothing of Tom Woolvett if you can help it.
Unfortunately, Toms are always devastatingly attractive - whether purely by looks or by that curious 'x-factor' that some men seem to have. One should not be fooled, however...
...one always is, though, damn it.
All Bens are users. While it can be argued that all humans are users, I would leave that to the non-idealists in the house. The evidence, though, even for an idealist such as myself, clearly shows in life's users a marked tendency to bear the name of Ben. This was first (and perhaps best) demonstrated at school by the musician Ben Pellett, who used the author as a go-between in his doomed efforts to begin a relationship with the author's best friend. Later, not one but two Bens separately and without conferring used the author as a venting machine; like a vending machine only you insert vitriol and get back sympathy.
Bens will only pay you attention when they can't get what they really want, and will make you feel special because you genuinely are the best they can get *at that moment in time* - however, the minute what they actually want comes along, they drop you quicker than George W. Bush can say "uh..."
Do not be fooled by a Ben who says you have changed his life/opened his eyes/saved his sanity/interested him lots; in the latter case all he wants to do is sleep with you, while in the former three he wants to use you as an emotional punchbag and then sleep with you.
Bens will often try to get to you through music. The author can think of four who have done exactly that. They have a curious knack for knowing what music will move you most, and use it to break down barriers built against other Bens. Seriously, look out for this trick - at least four Bens have suckered the author this way. This is linked to the Ben's propensity to declare himself a sensitive or thinking man; Ben Pellett used to play the author love songs he had written to her friend, ignoring the tears he brought to her eyes, Ben-short-for-Benedict-no-honest sang to the author as a way of expressing his love for...someone else, the Ben from the other night observed the author's love for music and tried to use that to manipulate her, and the author isn't even going to start on what one of the other Bens did with music.
Bens always start out appearing both sweet and generous but anything they give you they will claim back without warning just when you're sure it's yours to keep.
This author has, in the past, been fooled by Stealth Bens; Bens who hide their true Ben-ness by calling themselves false names or simply don't mention their Bennity at all. In the most recent case, the author only discovered that the man she was talking to was a Ben by pure chance. And too late. Learn from her mistake! Ask first!
Is the man you're talking to secretly a Tom or a Ben?
1. Within the first ten minutes of conversation, did he...
a) compliment your outfit even though you're not wearing anything special?
b) start talking about blood, quoting George Orwell, or volunteer the reasons why you might be looking so happy/unhappy?
c) tell you about the awful day he had at work and ask what you do?
2. Is he wearing...
a) something relatively loose-fitting and black or blue?
b) something tight-fitting and black or camel?
c) a suit? (The shirt [and tie, if present] can be any colour, but the trousers are black)
3. After twenty minutes of talking, has he mentioned...
a) his pet or computer?
b) his car or favourite game?
c) his history of failed relationships?
4. While talking, has he...
a) taken your hand between both of his?
b) put his arm around you or taken your hand in one of his?
c) looked straight in your eyes for more than three sentences of his own speech?
5. While you've been talking, has he been drinking...
a) gin & tonic, water or nothing?
b) anything he can get his hands on?
c) beer, a combination drink (vodka & orange, cider & black etc) or soft drinks?
6. You've been talking for half an hour. Do you feel...
a) that you'd like to know him better, and maybe make him buy different shoes?
b) that you'd like to fuck him senseless, and maybe make him buy you a present?
c) that you'd like to heal all his wounds, and maybe make him buy an English dictionary?
1. If you answered a, time to politely excuse yourself, you're probably talking to a Tom. That was your breasts/legs/waist he was complimenting you on, not your clothes. If you answered b, run *now*, you're almost certainly talking to a Ben. It's while you're trying to follow what he's saying that you get sucked in, you know. If you answered c, congratulations, you've got an ordinary guy, possibly called Vincent or Russell. Hang in there. He might get more interesting.
2. If you answered a, congratulations, you're talking with a nice, normal guy - possibly a David or a Simon, there are lots of them about. If you answered b, I'm afraid you've got a Ben - tight-fitting black clothes both help with and broadcast their insecurity problem. Don't ask me about the camel. If you answered c, oh dear, a regular Tom you have there. You don't want to know who made those trousers, you probably couldn't afford them with what you made all year.
3. If you answered a, you've got an ordinary man - well, as ordinary as people who talk about their computers get. You may have a Graham or a Robert. If you answered b, that, my friend, is a Tom, one to disengage yourself from asap. Did he ask you what your favourite game was before he told you his? He did, didn't he? I thought so. If you answered c, don't even bother to apologise, just leg it - you're about to get caught by a fully-fledged Ben. I'm sure I don't need to explain why.
4. If you answered a, it's more than likely you've got a Ben on your hands, or rather, one with his hands on yours. That earnest expression as he grabs your hand between his is the Ben equivalent of a movie villain screeching "Ha! I've got you now, Meestr Bond! You will never escape!" If you answered b, you have a fairly affectionate ordinary guy there, well done. In all likelihood it's an Andrew or a Richard. If you answered c, you should have guessed that you're talking to a Tom - he's only using your eyes to watch the fascinating beauty of his own lips moving.
5. If you answered a, look out, sure signs of Tom activity. He's trying to impress you by indicating that you're more important to him than getting drunk. You're not, and you should see him the day afterwards with his mates from work. If you answered b, you have a Ben; if you wrote down everything he said that you didn't understand you could probably have a bestseller in the making. If you answered c, that's just a guy, anything from a Mark to a Daniel.
6. This last one should have been easy. If you answered a, you have an ordinary guy (probably wearing unfortunate brown shoes) and you should go right ahead. That would be a Michael or a Joseph, probably. If you answered b, you've got a Tom - obviously - and if you have, do not follow both impulses, though it might be safe to follow one of them. If you answered c, it's too late to save you, but in case you hadn't gathered, you've just been snared by a Ben. You really should have noticed before, you know.
Yes, *very* bored.