An Ode to All the Benches I've Been Dumped On

Benches are for three things in world: napping, doing hand stuff and breaking up. This is an exploration of that last one.

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19 February 2019, 10:28am

Photo: Flickr user Funk Dooby, via / CC By 2.0

The bench: not quite a chair, not quite a sofa, but an uncomfortable in-between where people relentlessly ask you for cigarettes.

In British culture, benches are for three things. Firstly, there is taking a nap. Secondly, there is formative hooking up; who among us has not done hand stuff or at least been felt up on one? But what goes up must come down, and when not hosting sexually-active youth, benches are used for the opposite of romance. Lastly, benches are battlegrounds for breakups.

A bench is a horrible place to be dumped. I myself have been dumped on many, so know that there are different types of benches you can be dumped on, and each is painful and humiliating in a different way. For instance:

The Park Bench

Park Bench
Photo: VICE

While parks are typically reserved for falling off bikes, doing poppers and taking your dog to shit – depending on what kind of life you lead – they are also widely used for breakups. The park bench is a neutral go-between, perhaps where you had picnics or kissed up against trees in your earlier days of frolicking and fucking. In the eye of the dumper, these happy memories make the park seem like something of an ideal location – and in some ways, it is. One of the most common pieces of advice in times of stress is to go outside and immerse yourself in the soothing arms of Mother Nature, so if you’re going to be dumped, at least you’ll be surrounded by trees and many nearby dogs to pet for comfort before you take the short, lonely walk back to your hovel.

Despite being the most scenic, however, the park bench is actually a particularly merciless location. Sure, there are leaves, but the reality is you'll be sitting on a bench that's probably dedicated to someone's dead relative, having your soul ripped out to the sound of joyful children at a nearby playground.

Pro: You can make a massive scene.

Con: That massive scene takes place in front of children and other happy couples, highlighting you as the sad social pariah you really are.

The Bench Outside the Train Station

Liverpool Train Station
Photo: VICE

This type of bench is a particularly calculated dumping-ground, as it shows your partner is expecting a nice and timely ten-minute trashing so they can catch the 18:15 back to wherever the fuck they came from. Station dumping is also particularly cruel, because one could be forgiven for thinking that the two of you were off on a surprise jaunt somewhere nice, like the seaside, but instead you've spent £1.50 on a bus to a station to be dumped, and now have to spend an additional £1.50 getting the bus back so that you can cry alone in peace.

Pro: Good transport links to inner-city areas.

Con: Crying hysterically in front of emotionally repressed commuters is not a good look.

The Café Bench

Cafe Bench
Photo: VICE

The café bench is a wonderful place. Sitting outside a cafe with a nice hot drink in your hand and some comfort food at the ready, you will be dumped in a fairly civilised manner: "We can't see each other anymore. Would you like another coffee while we talk about it?" 'FUCK YOU!' you scream internally as you say aloud, "No thanks, just a diet coke."

Pro: You get a free drink.

Con: It’ll taste like shit because it’s full of salty tears.

The Museum Bench

Ah yes, the thinking man's dumping spot. As well as being the most aesthetically pleasing, this type of dumping is very well thought through, as the other person is hoping that the silence and general austereness of the surroundings will stop you from crying hysterically and lying on the floor yelling, "Please don't leave me!" Unluckily for them, they have picked the Tate Modern, where it is perfectly acceptable to do this, as people will think that you are a piece of performance art.

Pro: You might make it on to some art blog about heartbreak in the modern age.

Con: Tourists taking pictures of you in your lowest moment.

The Beer Garden Bench

Bench Outside Pub
Not technically a beer garden but our office is in East London and it's February, so. Photo: VICE

Probably the place where you also met. And where you will now religiously frequent in the hope that you might bump into one another again – "Wow, I did NOT expect to see you here, but seeing as I have, shall we talk?" – and reignite your sad little romance. This bench is particularly grim; people around you are eyeing up their bumble matches and you're being dumped.

Pro: You don't even need to move after it's happened; you have already arrived at your post-breakup destination. Congrats, drink up!

Con: You didn't realise it was possible to have a shit time at your favourite place in the world (the pub), but it is definitely possible: it is happening now. You lost your chirpse, and worse yet, you have also lost your local.

The School Bench

Where the depressing trend of being dumped on benches all began. The OG bench. The bench before all other benches. You are in Year 4 and have spent the morning blissfully engaged to Joseph in Year 5. It is now lunchtime, and Joseph has heartlessly called-off the playground marriage that was due to happen this afternoon. Where did it all go wrong?

Pro: Never mind, you secretly didn't really want to have to hold his hand anyway, and if anyone asks you can say you're just sitting here on time-out from a game of tag.

Con: None. It is good to learn from a young and tender age about heartbreak and how this will be your new reality, over and over, until you finally meet the one or end up alone like your weird aunt.

The Bench That Happens to Be There 50 Minutes Into the Ominous 'Walk' They Asked You to Go On, and Now You're Knackered from Talking About Your Feelings But Also Because 50 Minutes Is a Long Time to Be Walking Around and Now You Just Really Fancy a Sit Down TBH

Liverpool Street Bench
Photo: VICE

To conclude: if your lover ever offers up a bench as a rendezvous point, say no. Taking what we now know about benches into consideration, it's probably best to remain standing.

@elizafrayn

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