Mr. Barnaby Jepperboom, lamb, mensch, sweetheart that he is DID call last night, in fact, and DID ask me if I'd like to hang out soon. (He's been having a crappy week himself, and is feeling a bit saturnine.)

It's probably about time for me to tell you guys more about him, isn't it?

We met after a mutual friend, who'd been reading my blog, suggested that I hang out with him. ("Maybe he's blog-worthy!" she said.) My friend is brilliant and sweet, and recommended Barnaby using similar terms, so my curiosity was piqued enough that I checked his Facebook page. And--oh, joy!--a total hottie beamed out at me: enormous brown eyes, big boyish grin, short dirty-blonde hair. There was even one of him lying down on his towel at the beach, and as far as I could tell, the temperature was hot, hot, hot.

But ...

After the first twenty photos or so, as I kept clicking, he kept getting ... bigger ... and bigger ... and bigger. In a preponderance of pictures, he appeared to be quite large. Was he a "secret internet fattie"? Hmm. I revisited that pic of him on the beach and confirmed that it was no camera trick, no question of the perfect angle: He was downright svelte--in some of the shots, anyway.

I wrote back to my friend, saying: "I'd like to meet him, but let's just keep it as a friendly thing. I see that his weight seems to fluctuate--and I find that when people are carrying extra weight, they snore! And snoring is a deal-breaker for me."

(Which is true. But it's also true that corpulence per se is also a deal breaker. I just didn't want to come off like a complete prig by saying that.)

My friend wrote back and said, "Fair enough. Although I should tell you: Barnaby used to be overweight, it's true. A couple years back, however, with some help from a nutritionist, he lost a ton of weight. Which means now he's an excessively handsome dude, without the huge ego to go along with his looks!"


Anyway, I wrote Barnaby saying we should become buddies--I think the casual approach is best when it comes to a friend of friend, even if he IS single and hot--and also mentioned that if he was interested in coming along, I'd planned a little outing for that weekend to the Karaoke Night at Hope+Anchor Diner.

After Barnaby agreed to come, he and I decided to met up beforehand, just the two of us, at Sonny's, so we could get to know each other a little first. About five minutes in to our first conversation, we got to the point where he was like, "I don't know why I'm telling you all this stuff," and I was like, "I don't mind if you don't." One of the things that came up was his weight loss, and I was impressed both by his candor and his ability to change habits that had been with him a lifetime. He'd always thought it was simply his genetic destiny to be fat--but after his physician suggested he see a nutritionist, Barnaby changed the way he was eating, began working out ... and eventually he transformed himself. ...

A few hours later, we were doing the karaoke thing with my friends, and Barnaby was sitting next to me on the banquette when he said, "Wow. Fishnets. You're wearing fishnets. I didn't see them till now. It's just hitting me how hot you are."

I turned to him. "Well, considering you've had about 6 Bud Lights by this point, that is not a compliment, pal."

He sunk his face into his hands ... and then peeked out to say, "Can I touch them? Please?"

I laughed. Very gently, he put his hand on my knee and squeezed. Then he pulled me up to sing a duet with him--Dylan's Positively Fourth Street. Later, I drove him home, and he invited me up--was his suggestion that I use his computer to determine the best route home just a pretext?--but I declined. (It was late, I was tired, I liked him A LOT--but maybe I didn't like-him-like-him.)

Yet, on the ride back to Maura Kelly Headquarters, it occurred to me that I'd had one of the best New York nights I'd had in a long time ... and it seemed Barnaby was a big part of the reason why.

Hmm ...

But, folks, I've gone on long enough about this now. More tomorrow!


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Also, here's a poem by the illustrious Deb Garrison about the appeal of firemen. Thank you, Daniel, for sending this in!

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Commenters, my dears: I ALWAYS read what you have to say (in fact, I frequently check OBSESSIVELY to see if you've written) and your notes ALWAYS cheer me up ... so thank you.

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