1. That it's adorable that he puts a bathrobe and slippers on over his clothing as soon as he comes home from work. He is so reliable in this regard, that whenever one of our friends comes by and sees Steve, resplendent as ever in a green robe and sheepskin slippers, she says, "Ahh, all is right with the world."

2. That his free-form, celery-and-chili-heavy cooking style, which he rarely has time to exercise, but yields lovely things when he does, tastes like his approach to food: joyful and inventive. I still am amazed that he once concocted a perfect barbecue sauce without a recipe and that he made the only meatball sandwich in living memory that made me understand the point of them.

3. That it isn't only habit that I still call him by the dumb nickname he accidentally gave himself 20 years ago. ("I hate it when people mispronounce my name," I'd said. I was 20 and feeling very put-upon. "I mean, what's so hard about WILL-JEN?" "I know exactly what you mean," he replied. "People are always mispronouncing my name as Steve when anyone can see that it's clearly pronounced Stevvie.") I'm still calling him Stevvie. A good, stupid joke should not be forgotten just because a few decades have elapsed; I fell in love with him for that joke, for its quickness, sheer silliness and for making fun of me (gently) and himself (ludicrously).

4. That my mother has never forgotten how tenderly he cared for our family's dying golden retriever, without ever mentioning that it was messy and sad and not even his own dog.

5. That he is a better man at 43 than he was at 23: more thoughtful, more humble, more accomplished and more self-aware. But, then, who isn't better at 43 than 23? He's handsomer now, too.

6. That he somehow manages to be both the largest kid I know and the most comforting and reassuring presence I can think of. I can't quite put my finger on how this is possible, but it may have something to do with his willingness to accept whatever moment he is in.


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