Kate Schaefer (kate_schaefer) wrote,
Kate Schaefer
kate_schaefer

Remembering Stu Shiffman

I can't remember meeeting Stu, but it must have happened at the 1976 worldcon in Kansas City. By the 1977 world in Miami Beach, I knew Stu and had a minor crush on him, which he ignored. Stu always sucked at flirtation, but he was fabulous at friendship.

During the late seventies, it was easy to take the train from New Haven to New York City for a weekend and stay on somebody's couch or floor. Stu's floor in Washington Heights was not the most comfortable place to sleep, but I was more flexible then. I didn't go often, because train fare was about eight bucks round-trip, and I didn't have eight bucks to spare. I went often enough that I can remember Stu explaining Indian food to me. "It's really good this way," he'd say, sweat and tears streaming down his face from the five-star hotness. Mine came with one star, because my midwestern taste buds had never experienced curry before, let alone hot curry. Stu also demonstrated the wonderful sauna qualities of Szechuan cuisine for me ("See those dark red things? Don't eat those"). I think we didn't learn about spicy Mexican cuisine until we had both moved to the west coast years later.

Stu was utterly sweet and kind and quietly fierce. If I were completely collected, I'd have an anecdote to go with each of those adjectives, but I'm not, so I don't. I needed a shoulder a lot when we were in our twenties, and his was reliable.

We used to worry that he'd never find a partner -- because he didn't look! because he didn't notice when people exhibited great interest in him! because you would need to whack him upside the head and then quote lines from about fifty old movies before he'd get the point! -- and then Andi Shechter whacked him upside the head and knew which old movie lines to quote. They've been partners now for so long that it's a little weird to remember that they became partners at a point that we thought then was really late in life -- around thirty or so, practically middle-aged. Now, I think it's the stage when you just get going. It was about the same time that I found my partner myself.

Andi made Stu so happy. Stu made Andi so happy. She got his jokes; he got her jokes. Their interests weren't all the same, but they overlapped in a way that worked well for both of them. They lived together in Boston for a while, then moved to Seattle, where they lived in our basement for a few weeks before moving into the ground floor apartment in Greenwood where they lived until very recently. It was downstairs from Jerry and Suzle's apartment, a continuation in a way of the New York neighborhood where Jerry and Stu had shared an apartment.

They had some serious stuff to deal with over the years. Complicated health, job, family, finance: the things everyone has to deal with, only more so, much more so. They supported each other throughout. The last two years, since Stu's stroke, have been exceptionally hard. Their wedding in July, after so many years, was a joyous occasion, one of the best parties I've ever attended.

Oh, there's more I want to write, much more, but for now I'll stop. Goodbye, Stu.
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