Today after work I was walking through the mall and spotted someone I knew, and paused to chat. Unknown to me, they saw the person behind me put a finger to their lips and thus didn't so much as make a face while one of the Firefighter Baseball Team guys basically bear-hugged me from behind (rib-crushing hug, that was) and spun me in a circle and yelled.
Once my heart attack was over, we had a good chat about his upcoming girlfriend's birthday and I gave him some advice when he asked what might be a good idea to do to celebrate said birthday (my advice, by the way, was "Ask her what she'd like to do. Then listen to her, and do that, only come up with a way to make it even more special and unique.") These guys - or, rather, two of them from the original group - have become something of a fixture in my days at the bookstore, and it always strikes me as a bit bemusingly wonderful that they've kinda-sorta adopted me as some sort of gay mascot or something. They're hysterical, and uplifting, and - fine, let's be shallow - really hot.
It's nice to have someone so completely unrelated to your sphere of life actually give a crap enough to give you a surprise hug, or drop by to ask your opinion on the next book they should read, or what-have-you. In a weird way, they give me hope.
"Gratitude," by Felice Picano
Before I begin, I want to mention how this man is a complete short fiction hero of mine. I originally said, of "Gratitude," this:
"Gratitude," by Felice Picano drove home once again to me how stunned I am to be in this anthology. Felice Picano! Ahem. Anyway, "Gratitude" is a really sweet story, and deals with a different sort of romance, the love of being surrounded by friends, and friends-as-family, both of which are topics quite true to my own philosophies of what love is all about. I had a little "aw" moment at the end of this tale.
Since finding out that Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction was made into an audiobook via audible.com, I've been listening to these tales and enjoying how different the experience is when you hear the tales performed. And, I've said this before, Roman M. Wagar does an excellent job.
What hit me even harder this time around with "Gratitude" - which is a tale of a man who makes an incredibly costly gesture of selflessness in a moment of danger - was how the love in this tale isn't lesser than the love in the other tales, even though it's very different. And how wonderfully that changed the tone and flavor of the anthology as a whole. It wasn't what I was expecting the first time, but it was a delight. And that - having read and enjoyed Felice Picano before - shouldn't have been a surprise.