January 2010 Hanging with Shorty. He even has a cooler of the Blue Stuff on him!
In 2010 I attended my first con as a vendor. My first steampunk book, Thomas Riley, had just come out and I picked a con that seemed pretty cool that was close to Nashville. It was Shadow Con. Honestly, I was a bit nervous. I had no idea how smaller cons worked or how people would be. I'd been to San Diego Comic Con before and to Dragon Con, but never to a more regional and strictly fan driven one. This time I was on panels and selling my own book and really on my own in the world of Fandom for the first time. That can be scary! I mean, did the steampunks speak in British Accents all the time? Would everyone judge me for my limited knowledge of Klingon or my poor skills at Warcraft? I had no idea.
At Shadowcon, I set my table up and everyone was insanely nice to me. They all were so cool. This includes one Stuart "Shorty" Bergman. He was a huge man with long hair and beard. Instantly intimidating. He was the nicest guy you could have met. He welcomed me to the con, hung out at my table and talked about, well everything and I just met the guy! Later, I ended up at his little room party in the hotel where we had "The Blue Stuff" which he then told me was his version of Romulan Ale. It was like a billion different kinds of liquor with Blue Curaco for color. At the end of this life defining conference, Shorty even sold me my first bottle of Mead, which I was really excited about.
I saw Shorty several more times, at Midsouthcon and again at Shadowcon the following year. We talked Facebook after I moved to Washington and he always made it a point to chat me up when he saw me online. I still regret not being able to go to the Memphis fandom con he helped launch.
I found out yesterday that Shorty's battle with Cancer had ended and I wouldn't get the pleasure of seeing Shorty's gleeful face or cheers him with a nearly poisonous amount of Blue Stuff.
Shorty was so kind to me when I was just starting out and he helped ease me into an entire culture that I was quite nervous about when I started. And through the years, he always stayed in contact. Fandom all over has lost an icon, a bright light, and a hell of a guy.
Rest In Peace, Shorty. I will miss you.