The Other Woman

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The Other WomanI'll never forget the look on my husband's face when he held Betty for the first time. Cradling her almost reverently with a sparkle in his eyes and a childlike sense of wonder, Jim examined every facet of her sexy, smooth skin to ensure she was flawless and virginal, as promised. It was the way he used to gaze at me.

He spent days researching Betty's numerous talents and learning how to best use and care for her. She was sleek, with smooth curves, a vision of perfection. She sang to him, dazzled him with sports trivia and kept him abreast of the latest news. Betty filled my husband with excitement, mystery and wonder. I, on the other hand, was merely human.

Though I had Bruce-my own BlackBerry-I was jealous of Betty. She was an upgrade, a Storm, and she offered Jim much more than I could. When she first moved in, Jim often disappeared to be alone with her. He'd explore her features and wipe off his fingerprints afterward so I wouldn't know where he'd been. Then he started bringing Betty to bed. While I watched late night TV, he caressed her, learning all of her idiosyncrasies while she chirped with delight. I seethed with jealousy. Jim claimed he needed Betty near him 24/7 because he was on call, but I knew better. I could not compete.

He tried, perhaps out of guilt. We were newlyweds, after all. Before going to sleep, Jim laid Betty on his nightstand, trying to put her out of his mind, but the little vixen would not be ignored. She flirted with my husband with her winking red and green lights and her seductive purr.

Trying to ignore her siren song, I'd roll over and stare at Bruce. He was attractive, a bit older and thicker, but he got the job done. He was mine and I loved him. Bruce was fun and as comfortable as an old shoe, but he and I just didn't connect the way Jim and Betty did. Bruce wasn't... alluring. He tried to make me feel wanted; he'd blink his single red light at me and beep his single note. But it wasn't enough. And Betty wasn't letting Jim go.

I wanted to captivate him the way Betty had. I wanted Jim to leave her in his office when he came to bed and to look longingly at me when he discovered one of my new skills or talents. I knew I could fill her shoes. I could be Jim's personal assistant, update him on the latest sports and weather, post to his Facebook profile. He didn't need Betty.

But first I had to put Betty in her place. I considered the obvious-hiding her in our compost pile, accidentally flushing her down the toilet, tossing her from the 520 floating bridge-but I knew those methods wouldn't work. Jim would just replace Betty with a newer, sleeker model, a Marilyn, a Roxanne, or a Vanessa.

Instead, I needed a more subtle approach. I had to wean Jim from Betty. I started texting him to say, "i love u," e-mailing useful web links to him and flirting with him on Facebook. I silenced Bruce during dinner and turned him off at night. I even laid Bruce next to Betty one evening, hoping they'd hit it off. (They didn't. Bruce thought she was too superficial, and Betty thought he was just too old.) I even left Jim's browser open to a page on virulent BlackBerry viruses.

Gradually, as often happens, the shine began to come off Betty and Jim started spending less time with her. He'd leave her on the counter when he left the room, and he silenced her when we spent time together. I knew I'd made progress when Jim turned Betty off during date night. He thought I was crying at the end of Gran Torino, but I was secretly rejoicing.

Some things haven't changed. Betty still comes to bed with us, but I'm the one Jim holds. I just hope Bruce doesn't get jealous, either of Jim or this hot little iPhone 3GS I have my eye on....

 

Virgin on Business: Celebrating Boeing and the Interstate

Virgin on Business: Celebrating Boeing and the Interstate

If nothing else, significant anniversaries give us reason to pause and ponder.
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Round-number-anniversary stories are an overused tool in the journalism workshop, maybe because they’re still helpful in pausing to assess where we are, how we got here and where we’re going.

In the case of two such round-number anniversaries being marked this year, those questions about where we’ve been and where we’re going have literal application because they pertain to two hugely significant developments in transportation, both important to this region, although only one is closely identified with it.

This year, Boeing celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding and the interstate highway system marks 60 years since its official launch.

It is possible to overstate the significance to Seattle of Bill Boeing’s venture into aviation. It’s not true that without Boeing there wouldn’t be a Seattle, at least one that anyone would have heard of. Seattle was already someplace by 1916, thanks to the port and the railroads — the earlier contributions of two other modes of transport to Seattle’s creation — and events like the Klondike gold rush. Boeing didn’t emerge as the world’s preeminent commercial-aerospace company until well into its middle age.

But would the Seattle region have grown to the size it is and the importance it claims without being one of the world’s centers of aerospace design and production? Would it have developed the tech industries it thrives upon today without the foundation Boeing laid? Would it be a home to a thick portfolio of nationally significant companies? That’s highly debatable and quite doubtful.

As for where we’re going, wherever it is, we’ll likely get there by plane for a long time hence. For all the talk of hyperloops and other technologies, the airplane is still a remarkably efficient, productive and safe method of getting people and stuff from one place to another. There may be revolutions in design, materials and propulsion to rival the transition from propeller to jet, but short of teleportation, the airplane’s place in transportation is secure.

Much less secure are Boeing’s and Seattle’s places in that future. A lot of airplane-building rivals have come and gone in 100 years, and more are coming. It would be nice for both if Boeing and Seattle were still relevant to the discussion of the aerospace industry when the 200th anniversary of Boeing’s founding occurs. 

Meanwhile, the interstate highway system gets little love and a lot of abuse these days, credited with urban demolition, suburban sprawl and desecration of the countryside, not to mention the intangible crime of encouraging Americans to race to their destinations while ignoring the joys and sights of the journey.

Some of the blame is earned; much of it is silly. For people and things, the destination usually matters more than the journey. The interstates rendered the destination possible by making the journey faster and safer, even more enjoyable. And lamentations about not seeing or appreciating the country when viewed from the interstate are sometimes wrong. Take the drive on I-82 between Ellensburg and Yakima, or on I-90 just west of Snoqualmie summit, and try not to be impressed by either the scenery or the engineering feats.

Your cargo, however, is not on a sightseeing trip. It has places to be and work to do, which underscores the massive contribution the interstate system has made as an incredibly powerful economic engine. The modern American supply chain is a wondrous thing; it doesn’t happen without a network of limited-access divided highways, which, by the way, took a lot of traffic off city streets and rural roads, improving life for many.

Unloved as Interstates 5, 90 and 405 are for their congestion, noise, unsightliness, etc., and as expensive as it’s going to be to expand, rebuild and maintain them, give them credit for making urban life possible.  

Monthly columnist Bill Virgin is the founder and owner of Northwest Newsletter Group, which publishes Washington Manufacturing Alert and Pacific Northwest Rail News.