Flatoberfest 2020 Part 1: Pre-party

 FLATOBERFEST - The Day Before

Friday, October 23rd, 4PM - The City Park

There they were, Trey and Tico. Smiling and offering their hands out towards me; their

knowing eyes bewildered that I was already a flat earther. Their smiles, a little downcast, upon

hearing that I already had the knowledge they were trying to offer.

There’s Joshua, buddy of my friend Joe Hill, down from Minnesota. His Youtube channel,

Authentic Intent, is pretty cool. We’re standing in the sun, talking. It’s a Friday in late October

and he’s happy to be in the sun… It’s snowing cats and dogs up north.

There’s other people here, but I don’t feel like talking to anyone else. Some fella named: “Rich” made me put on a name badge. Meh. The gang of 100 or so is at the pavilion grilling up hot dogs or something, and I’m kinda on one of the outside tables, taking notes, being all talked out.

The evangelism is already in progress, however. A mom with two teenagers kids took some photos of themselves in front a “Research Flat Earth” banner. Quickly did the FE Preachers descend on them and hand them literature. It wasn’t as awful as I supposed it would be. The preachers were genuinely polite and the people were genuinely interested.

The gig here started at 4PM and it’s a little after 5PM. The grill is smoking, and Mark Sargent has seven people around him and he’s obviously teaching them important things. I saw Karen around here somewhere, and Jack too… But I suppose in the running of the event, one can’t take the leisure of intro/retro[spect] in the middle of an event you’re trying to push along. I know, I've been in their shoes before.

From somewhere in the crowd, a voice calls out: “THE EARTH IS!!!” There is an unsteady pause and one brave soul yells: “FLAAAAT!” To which the call goes out again: “THE EARTH IS???” And now that everyone knows what to do, the call comes back: “FLAT!!!” It’s full of fun and lots of people are left with smiles on their faces.

Elijah David, a prepubescent photojournalist, just sat down with me, to have a brief conversation on the metaphysical realities of aliens in an intra-terrestrial setting. Wow. And to preface the whole conversation, he asked me if I wanted to: “hear something surreal.” Uh, yes, young prophet… Speak on.

I circle among the white men in their mid 40’s, introducing myself to this person or that, just getting a gauge on all of the people there. It’s intriguing, finding the assortment. It’s interesting, finding target audience. I think that maybe I’m the target audience, being a 49 year old white male… And I must have fallen in with all the right crowd here tonight.

As the sun set, I encountered a few wonderful people that I knew from Facebook and from other Flat Earth Meetups before. Justin, who I met in Chicago, was here. And as it turns out, he’s the one who sent me the link to this conference in the first place. Oh happy day to meet someone that I had already known before. Greg Wiska is also here, and we have a lovely reunion. He may be my oldest “Flat Earth Friend” here that I’ve known, or maybe it’s Nathan Thompson (pictured in his globe mask on the cover of this article.)

Good old Nathan Thompson, always up to his crazy and zany antics. What a swell fella. I had written a short story with him and I at a diner being chased by the Smithsonian, that appeared in my latest Horror Collection, Adelphoi. He tells me thanks and that, yes, he received his signed copy. Funny guy. He brought along his hound dog and sandwiches for all the folks who may have been a little hungry after the barbecue.

Speaking of food, a groovy bunch of cats decided to cook up some authentic German Fare and it was on like Donkey Kong. Mixing in with all the food was the Blueberry and Raspberry smells from exotic E-Cigarettes and Marijuana. Ah what a delightful mix of peoples. I did partake in the food and had a hand in flipping some Chicken breasts… Miss Kay claimed to have been “roped in” to chicken flipping as well… So I gave her a break and did my best grill work… I did help with the food, but did not partake in any smoked substances during the shin-dig. That’s just me.

I talked to Jennifer, another person [on the spectrum] like myself that was Torah Observant as well as Flat Earth. We shared our common woes of being misunderstood for this and for that again and again. God bless the people of the non-mid-bell-curve mind… We are a blessing to those who love us.

Travis #1 and Travis #2 were entertaining wistful musings about the moon and how there just may be 28 of them, all different… All moving in a large circle. I applauded Travis #2 in his search to find truth. I do not know if his quest will pan out anything substantial… And yet, I smile at his zeal. We need more open eyes. Real Eyes Realize Real Lies.

So it’s 7:00 and the good old sun has set and the pavilion lights shut off. It’s still “The Golden Hour” so there’s just a wee bit of light left, but I’m a little concerned. I know that the group has the area until 9:00 so I, being a former stage-tech, set out to find the problem. I find a dial and crank it over and three of the nine lights come on. That’s alright, but not quite enough, so I find the maintenance phone number and ask him to call me back. After a while I give up, set an alert in my mind to watch the dial and two more lights pop on, giving just enough illumination. Maybe we’ll be alright. It’s not my gig, so I let Karen B know about it, but she seems overwhelmed, so I leave good enough alone.

Around 9, I start grabbing volunteers to help me with the trash. I grab the 55 gallon containers that were stationed by the locked Mens’ and Women’s restrooms, and start dumping. Travis #1 is right there with me. I told him that I wanted to find him tomorrow and chat more. Cool guy.

I check in on Rich (who is now seated with another Rich) and ask about the head count again. We count the name badges and come up with the number 130, but I suspect that those coming and going were around 150… Rich was inebriated enough by this time to not give me an accurate account, but that’s alright… I’ll see everyone tomorrow.

An announcement goes out - Someone’s lost their key fob for their Viper! What? So now I’m out there scrambling with my flashlight on my phone to try to find it in the grass. Whoops. Someone found another fob, not the one we’re looking for, and lo and behold, the first one was found as well.

Randomly, there's three fellas eating Street Tacos that I haven't seen before. Who are these fine gents? I need to say hello. This ought to be interesting. I walk up to them and ask them if they knew the earth was flat. One brave soul asks me to tell him all about it. So I launch my best prepared speeches and he's right there with me. It's obvious that we're teasing each other but the diversion is appreciated and it's kinda hilarious. They laugh as they finish... Obviously on to better things that little old me... I'm sure I'll see them tomorrow. I gather up their trash to their surprise and tell them I'm going to go find more trash. 7 Corona Bottles, 6 Dixie Cups, 18 cigarette butts later...

And I'm almost done cleaning when the call goes out by the main event logistician (that’s what I call the guy who gets stuck with the grunt work and the sound board and moving chairs) comes by and tells us to vacate. I grab some more trash and empty beers and we’re out of there, headed across the street to the Shriner’s Club, who actually have a super-cheap bar. I get a Malibu and Pineapple for $4, tip $1 and move outside to the Karoke and the Bon-fire. Cool.

After many folks work up the nerve to get up there, I figure it’s my time to kill it. And I do. System of a Down’s Chop Suey has never sounded more horrible, but who cares? It’s just a silly song. I laugh at myself with the audience, changing one of the lines to: “And I don’t even know this song!” telling them that I sang it once in the shower and it sounded great… Ha. Good times.

So I hit the head, say bye to folks and head back over to Motel 6. Now I’m in my birthday suit, writing this and it’s almost Midnight… In twelve hours the one day conference will begin.

I’m sure to have just as much fun tomorrow as I did today.

Flat Earth people are wonderful.