Suddenly, Last Winter
Prelude to 1981 TAFF Report: Stu Shiffman

Published April 1981 in Visitor's Pass ed Dave Langford & Stu Shiffman
Scanned by Dave Langford

The anticipation was almost unendurable. Everyday during the crucial week last December I felt that I must call muvian guru T. Hughes of Old Virginia and learn the truth. Yes, that terrible eldritch revelation that would mean that I was the new TAFF delegate or provide an excuse for suicide. Oh, how could I continue to live if the sinister and evial (and thin) Gary Farber, hidden in the Forbidden City of Seattlewa, were to triumph over me? I was a great pain to my friends.

"Stu," said Sue-Rae Rosenfeld, "you are a great pain to your friends." "Shiffman!" remarked D. Potter casually. "You are a meshuggenah!" "I'm sorry, Stu," counselled Moshe Feder. "We all feel for your personal anguish and dreary life full of pathos and terror – step on that roach please, Potter – but you'll have to buck up and win gracefully. There is no other alternative. I can only live this trip vicariously if you go to Yorcon and write a report. Thou art the Protagonist ... so go and protagonize." My erstwhile co-editor on Raffles, "The Fanzine of Wise Cracks", Larry "Scoop" Carmody of the Mineola Carmodys, was curiously absent because of some lightweight excuse like Work. Otherwise, I am quite sure, he would have lent symmetry to this episode by telling me this:

"Stu," Larry would have said, "you are a great pain to your friends."

This publication has been inspected and approved by Special Agent F.M. Symbolist of the Fanzine Bureaucracy International. It is rated A-1 and safe to drink.

Eventually my torment was ended. Now began the most harrowing moments of all – finding people to tell so that they could congratulate me. This was not too difficult ... great masses of fans live in my apartment building. I climbed to the second floor (our building has British-style numbering of the floors) to Sue-Rae's apartment. Huge numbers of fannish layabouts were there for tea and cookies.

Carmody was there, as he had spent the day not looking for an apartment to share with Frank Balazs. Frank is one of the very few people with degrees in Folklore and Hungarian to be working in Herb and Spice shops. He labors at "Aphrodisia", a nationally-known store in [Greenberg] Greenwich Village;

D. Potter sipped her tea gracefully, the Tall Black Woman with One Blond Shoe. She looked surprised to see me. I'd mentioned earlier that I hadn't felt like being with people that evening. She had responded, asking how that involved them. A mild ook upon her. It furthers one to seek the True Path.

My announcement was made was made, in my usual "ah, shucks" manner. They were wildly appreciative.

However, I now discover that I start all conversations with "Well, as TAFF Administrator for North America ..." This must stop ... but my doctor says that it won't clear up for a couple of years yet.

(See the next exciting issue of Raffles, its number five, for the next pre-TAFF report fragment. It's entitled "Shiffman meets the Vile Huckster, or Sci-Fi Horror in the Comics Dungeon", Be there and be square. Or at least rectangular.)