OHANA Lounge was the official venue of the Lübecker Stammtisch. I’m not sure if this is the normal location, as this was my first time here. I had gotten the address from Torben, as well as some parking suggestions from Hoopy. I was in a super good mood already, and was particularity excited for this, the second, official half of the furmeet.
Between the drive from Kiel, and the short trip from Vegas Bowling to OHANA, I had consumed almost 5 liters of sugar-free tea, as well as a can of generic energy drink. As a caffeine powered lifeform, my energy levels were running high, and my social skills artificially heightened. I would soon be called “confident,” and forced to laugh, as I’m unsure how much of that particular character attribute of mine is real, and how much is drug induced. I suppose it doesn’t make much of a difference.
I’m quite fond of caffeinated beverages, especially the teas. Yerba Mate being my all-time favorite, when it’s available, which is almost never. If I’m going to be living in a place for more than a few weeks, I usually track down a kilogram of the stuff, but recently I’ve not invested the effort.
The parking lot is easily located, and the sign indicates a reasonable 60-cent charge. The ticket machine is speaking in a drunken haze of digital randomness — the typical gibberish that is indicative of a false reality — the kind of sighting that is a strong indicator that you are actually asleep, or in a coma, and that everything you are currently experiencing is a fantasy created in real-time by (half of) your own brain — but is still willing to give up a ticket, when I politely request one, with a soft push of the only available button. It had briefly occurred to me to do a reality check — a special exercise to test for consciousness — but I decided that I was enjoying myself enough that I’d prefer not to know if this wasn’t real. I suppose it doesn’t make much of a difference. Perception is reality to the person doing the perceiving, after all.
Having just finished with the bowling event, I was in a relaxed, jovial mood. Everyone else seemed to be, also.
This would now be everyone’s opportunity to eat, relax, and socialize. While the bowling event offered some of that, this was far removed from the physical activity, dance music, and general high-energy environment. The suits were off, the minds were open, and the art supplies were out.
I had been asked to reserve three seats, as a few of the people I was chatting with earlier wanted to continue the conversation. Autism, and all of its various associated traits, challenges, and tribulations, were a conversation topic now reaching its third hour. For reasons still being researched, autism and subcultures often go together, and Furry is a star example.
I’ve never been diagnosed, but someone promised to eat a whole box of business cards should it turn out that I’m not autistic. I suppose it doesn’t make much of a difference.
When it came time to order food, I picked the most Keto menu item I could find, a simple salad of tomatoes and cheese. When it arrived, I was happy enough. It was simple, but good. Complacency is useful in some situations, and this was one of them. Food is a fuel, nothing more. I lost half of my body weight by changing my outlook on this. We eat to live, not live to eat.
Soon I would be traveling again, to live with KittyFluff for a few weeks. I try hard to travel light, but it’s sometimes hard to not accumulate possessions. I had, for example, recently, on an impulse, picked up a really cute Furry hat, at a Christmas Market, in Berlin, back in December. I wore it around, had a good time with it, but knew all along that I’d eventually give it away, passing it off to someone else, for them to enjoy. Over the last few weeks, I’d considered a few people for this, but nobody seemed a good fit. Today, however, I found someone.
The hat fit perfectly, they enjoyed wearing it, and asked me where I got it. It seemed a curious coincidence that I had wanted rid of it, as they seemed to really want something like it. So, I gave it to them, but not before making them promise to wear it a lot, show it off, and proudly claim furry to anyone who expresses even the mildest curiosity. The deal was made.
After the meals were consumed, but before people started to leave, I began my furmeet ritual. This simple technique guarantees my ability to easily communicate with most people I met at the event, far into the future. I do this almost everywhere I go, and it’s super effective. It works like this: I hand someone my phone, with Telegram messenger running, and tell them to add themselves. Then I hand them one of my Identity Cards. With these simple two steps, they will remember me forever. At a cost of less than three cents, I have a contact, and they have a list of hobbies of mine, that act both as a conversation starter and common interest finder.
I proceeded to do this, shamelessly, from one person to the next, and added several new contacts that day.
It was at this time that someone noticed the bat art on the front of my card. The conversation, at least at one corner of the meeting, shifted to bats, and out came the sketchbooks. Once again, without really trying, I had encouraged artists to draw bats.
The sketch came out so nicely that I offered to commission the artist, right there, on the spot, for a pencil sketch “badge” of my own.
Cash-in-hand: I was serious, they were nervous. I wanted art, they wanted to hide. Like far too many artists — a curse that has struck almost every one I know — they doubt their own abilities. They refuse my money, insisting they are not worth it. They try to instead give me free art, but then it is my turn to refuse.
We go back and forth for a while, before it is decided that, while I would pay for the art, it would not be until after it was finished.
I left the OHANA Lounge that night feeling like it was one of the best furmeets I had attended. This is a common happening, and has become my expected result of attending one.
Like I’ve said time and time again, the Furry community is a magical thing. Everyone is interesting, and everyone is friendly.
Oh, and I was also invited to visit someone in Sweden. So, I guess I got to add that to my travel plans.
In a few hours I leave for Leipzig, to live for six weeks with a team of fursuit makers.