It wasn’t until about 9am that the car was loaded and actually ready to go.
Additional time had been spent positioning the dash cam and testing the navigation system’s aftermarket bluetooth setup. Everything was ready… and off we went.
In tow was the entire print shop. A desktop computer, dye-sublimation printer, and large, heavy heat press accompanied the hundreds of units of raw, unbranded merchandise.
Furvester was to be more than a simple sales venue, it was an opportunity for onsite production. The entire printing operation was to be relocated to inside the vendor hall, and all the fuzzie wuzzies would be given the opportunity to have their existing art collection infused onto the products of their choice. Such a service is rarely available, especially at such a small event. It is planned — expected, hoped — that such an offering will be irresistible to those in attendance, especially after the first few customers start showing their products off to the others.
As Kiel, Germany slowly disappeared into the distance behind us, Torben promptly fell asleep, as expected, and I was once again left alone with my thoughts.
Life has a funny way of being this magical combination of random, unexpected, and entertaining. So often I am forced to pause and wonder how I got to where I am. Random chance encounter after random chance encounter led me to this point, and, if history is any indicator, will continue doing so. I need only to chase the opportunity to meet new people, and new people will be met. I need only to seed the entropy of life with the willingness to do what others won’t, and the rest will be provided.
Cities come and go, as the navigation system patiently leads me to future friends and acquaintances. The cities fade to countryside, and soon I am driving on large multilane highways that seemingly slice right through the middle of rural farmers’ fields. The majestic combination of sunlight and fog are reminiscent of UFO landing scenes from 90’s-era science fiction films.
My thoughts continue to wonder in random directions, until Torben eventually wakes from his slumber.
Has it been five hours already?
A refueling stop additionally provides the opportunity for coffee, both products of which are considerably more expensive than I’m used to. I comfort myself in knowing that the comparatively high prices tolerated in Germany are justified, as the tax revenue is spent both wisely and effectively. The issues of homelessness, crime, healthcare, and education here are handled so well that returning to America is simply not an option for me. The government here is so effective at managing the truly important things that the annoyed mumblings of the populace are targeted only at the incessant need for bureaucratic paperwork, a small price to pay for a functioning society.
Riding the high of my favorite drug, caffeine, I turn to Torben. “Have you any knowledge of American Classic Rock?” I ask. Of corse not. None of the songs on my playlist are familiar to him, nor any of the bands. He suggests instead My Little Pony music, and I agree.
Why taint this innocent mind with the counterculture-induced drug-praising rock of the 60’s and 70’s, when we could instead be listening to songs about friendship and magic? The choice was obvious — and made me feel a tinge of guilt for having ever suggested otherwise — so we jammed to the overly sweet, overly positive, impressively high-quality sounds that embody that fandom.
Towns turn to villages, and eventually the roads lose their markings altogether. “Where is this place?” I ask rhetorically. “Are we in an industrial park?”
The lyrics of The Eagle’s Hotel California — a song almost certainly unknown to Torben — play in my mind’s eye as we search for the venue that supposedly exists on this tiny back road, and, it suddenly appears before us. A huge ‘Furvester’ banner visible from the distance, the convention is found. “This place must have been cheap to rent.” Torben muses.
I pull into the nearly empty parking lot, and into an open spot near the main entrance. It would not be long before this lot was full, however: we were one of the first to arrive.
A bright pink My Little Pony character decal adorns the rear of the car parked directly in front of us. I allow Torben the opportunity to notice this himself — which he immediately does, much to his gleeful approval.