Our dear friend, Brian Riccioni, passed way too young a few years ago. It's around this time of the year when Ann Marie and I most often think about him. Neither of us can do so without shedding a tear. I can't tell you how generous and kind Brian was, except to say there have been very few people we ever met with a heart as big as Brian's.
I used to do the dopey powerlifting in the video below from time to time ... mostly to make believe I wasn't ageing and still had some juice left (not the steroid kind—the life kind). I only lift in RAW meets (drug tested).
It's been a very long time since my last meet. Brian was there rooting me on and filming. I usually missed my first lift because I used it as my last warm-up weight. I simply ignored the command to lift from the judge and whipped it up. I usually made my second lift, and almost always failed on my third (because I just didn't have the stamina for a 2nd strict lift). It was always #2 that I made or bombed out (bombing out = missing all 3 lifts—I’ve done that twice). I missed my third in this meet as well. There were several better lifts than mine the day of the meet below. The applause at the end of the one I made was just other lifters and an audience being very kind. I never lifted for medals and often made (and make) fun of the damn things, because powerlifting meets cost upwards of $50 - $100 to enter, and when you get a trophy or a medal, trust me, you've paid for it. Mine remain in the attic. I enter(ed) the meets to challenge myself. I’ve never been able to beat my best lift of 30 years ago … I doubt I ever will. I can’t lift again until February (my surgeon told me), so I have to wait to begin the climb back to something respectable. I’m almost afraid to see how much strength I’ve lost since before the surgery.
The knees are shot, as is my lower back, but I’m hoping the weight loss will allow me to compete (with myself) on all three lifts again (deadlift, squat and bench, although my deadlift and squat were never very good at all). The wife hates when I even talk about this stuff, never mind write about it. The next big challenge for me is hiking up Washington Mountain in New Hampshire on June 20 of this year. That came about because of a terrific writer, Darren Rome Leo (with a book coming out this year, The Trees Beneath Us). He and some other friends (Rick Ollerman, associate editor and author at Stark House Press), Ted Flanagan (author, EMS professional, and former marine), Patrick Lambe (author and artist). Darren suggested the climb a couple of months ago. I saw it as a challenge I can't refuse. My hiking mates are all good friends and terrific writers/artists. Like Brian, they are also incredibly good people/friends. And make no mistake, they are each professional ball-breakers (just as good as myself at the craft of ball-breaking). These days I’m using that Mountain hiking goal to continue with the weight loss … and to honor my dear friend, Brian. I’ll keep his voice in my ear as I attempt to not make a fool of myself on the mountain. I’m not cocky about this adventure. I’ll be 59 when I try it … (and hopefully another 40-50 pounds lighter) … and I’ll be grateful that Ted (the EMS professional) will be there … it’s also good that Darren, Rick and Patrick will be there, because no matter how much weight I lose, they’ll need help hauling my carcass up (or down) the mountain should I fail.
But there’s no way I’ll fail. I told the wife if I turn or break an ankle, I’ll crawl up that mother----er.
Brian ate dinner at our house a few days before he passed. It was playoff time in the NFL and he was down on his luck. Still, he showed up at our door with a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue. He was that kind of guy.
The Mountain will be for Brian. My next crime novel, Tommy Red, will be dedicated to Brian and another friend lost way too young, Tom Mistretta. Read our tribute to Tommy here.
Brian’s voice …
Next week’s Temporary Knucksline will feature an SNHU MFA graduate and all around GREAT guy, Ted Flanagan (my EMS crutch on the mountain).