...that's what my friend Nick used to call me whenever I phoned him or came by his office. Used to. I say used to, because this past weekend, in the afternoon of Saturday, January 22, 2005, Nick died. He was 27. Stronzo is an Italian word he learned while on a mission to Italy with his brother Mike. They -- Nick and Mike -- used to call each other that, so I felt pretty special that he would choose to call me Stronzo. It meant that I was like a brother to him.
(I later learned that Mike went to Italy after Nick)
Nick had the gift of making people feel special, even when he did not totally think they were. That does not mean he was insincere, it means that he was so compassionate that he was able to ignore any dislike he may have had for the sake of others.
So now, I grieve for my friend. Not so much so that it overshadows the impact he had in my life. For instance, I could never see a movie again without considering its technical merits or how "do-able" the movie was or what was a good edit or how was special effect achieved. He graduated from BYU film school, and he was so very proud of the successes of his film student friends that made a very popular film this past year.
(The film was Napoleon Dynamite, Nick had shown me Jon Heder stuff before he was mega-famous, Nick is also mentioned in the DVD commentaries on Paducah -- the short film that preceded the film)
He was comically harsh on the things he didn't like. He was such a good person that anything mean Nick said sounded funny. We had many laughs and played some pretty good practical jokes on each other.
I choose now, to remember the joy he brought into my life and the wisdom he often imparted on me. He always encouraged me to be the best I could be, and always had a kind word when I was not feeling my best. I am grateful to have had him in my life for the short time I knew him. I am most grateful to him for fully accepting me without exceptions and without conditions.
I will miss Nick so very much.
By the way:
Stronzo: Italian slang for bastard or shit [turd], it refers to someone one does not like or finds offensive.
I told you he was funny.
(REVISED 1/22/07: Added comments and corrected spellings)