October 12, 2018
I guess this was inevitable. When someone – or something – arrives on the scene with the ferocity of a meteor striking Earth, thus sparking a heated battle between allies and foes, the creation of fan fiction can’t be far behind.
And so it would be written that a gentleman by the name of Matt Kerstetter would take it upon himself to honor new Flyers mascot Gritty in such a fashion.
This week, Kerstetter released “The Gritty of Brotherly Love,” a groundbreaking literary work described as such:
Love, fame, power, respect, the Phillie Phanatic had it all. However, a changing of the guard in the form of a terrifying, yet beautiful mascot sends his life into a downward spiral of chaos and confusion as Philadelphia becomes the ‘Gritty’ of Brotherly Love.
It is a long piece of fan fiction, with many a reference to people, places and things familiar to Philadelphians: Copabanana, G. Love & Special Sauce, John Kruk, Tony Luke’s, Condom Kingdom, Kung Fu Necktie, Mayor Jim Kenney and the like.
It also delves into the Phanatic’s psyche in more ways than one, but most notably its initial inclination to brush Gritty off as “just another poser” who he confronts at the Please Touch Museum unveiling.
“The Phanatic walked away. Embarrassed. Humbled. Broken,” it reads. “As the door to the museum shut, he could hear the crowd going wild. This wasn’t the Phanatic’s city no more. He’d been banned from using that very same hot dog cannon months ago.”
The fan fiction then takes a somewhat erotic turn, as fan fiction is often wont to do. More on that in a second. First, allow Kerstetter to explain why he's done such a thing.
"When Gritty first debuted, there was such a negative, visceral reaction. People were disgusted by him. The term 'nightmare fuel' was used, but I thought he was the coolest, funniest thing in the world. It was those damn googly eyes," said Kerstetter, a 30-year-old originally from Burlington, N.J., who now lives in Brooklyn and works on the "technical side" of television when not performing improv. "He reminded me of the Phanatic instantly."
When he saw video of the mascots together at a Phillies game on September 29, the creative juices started flowing and wheels started turning.
"I turned to my wife and said I was so happy that they were in love," he recalled of what inspired what "could be the premier semi-erotic, action-story fanfic about him."
Over the subsequent days, he wrote while hoping that "nobody beat me to the punch." That nobody did left Kerstetter "flabbergasted."
So, back to the story.
After a “Mascot-Off” competition devolved into a furry-fist fight, the author has the Phanatic leaning in to kiss Gritty. The next 10 chapters are marked “removed due to explicit material” despite being billed as “the greatest night in Philadelphia history,” with that being how mascots shared “unadulterated pleasures” in public.
Spoiler alert: The story picks back up with an epilogue dated nine months later. The message Kerstetter hoped to impart with that salacious turn?
"Love who you want to love. Be who you are," he said. "If you're in the ninth inning of your life, you go down swinging."
I’ll let you see what that’s all about for yourselves via this link. (Oh yeah, I'm sure this isn't the last piece of Gritty fan fiction that will hit the market, but it's the last that we'll write a story about.)