"Why is the beau so inappropriate, aside from a penchant for muscle cars?" a colleague asked recently.
Because he's my high school sweetheart, for starters. We grew up a half mile apart on Samish Island, an hour's drive north. Now we live a half mile apart on 57th Street in Seattle, when not respectively gadding about the globe.
He's one of my best friends, who's heard every fleeting grouse and boast and fear, including the conviction that a flea bomb could ignite the furnace.
IB reads Excellence, the magazine for Porsche owners. I walk, cycle or curse our inept public transport. He's prompt. My clock's stuck on Mediterranean time.
He despises fiction; I can't devour enough. He's allergic to garlic and onions, the foundation of 90% of my vegetarian recipes. The man's acrophobic, I rockclimb.
His third decade mainly unfolded in Skagit Valley, working what jobs came to hand: at a nature conservancy, tool-and-die design firm, Shell oil refinery ("I was Homer Simpson!"). I ricocheted around European cities, clawing together a media career.
He's inappropriate because his parents vote Republican and mine once tried to start a commune. Because he never appears in public without his Seattle Mariner's baseball cap, while I scruff about in secondhand cashmere and Alfani pink tweed. Because his living room contains a partially-built bicycle; mine a legless coffee table, which I pass off as Asian-fusion minimalism.
He's scared of sponges and plunging stocks. I'm scared of eating kitty kibble when I'm 64, thanks to a measly freelance pension.
All that, of course, could be overcome: like the Osmonds, we might play the "little bit country, little bit rock n' roll" angle.
Except he finally merits the name in earnest:
IB has taken up with the German backpacker.