This entire scenario began back in the heady days of what most university students refer to as “spring break”. In many cases, this involves an exodus from the country (Canada) to a warmer climate for approximately one week of drinking, frolicking, debauchery, and general mayhem. In our case, it was a break from classes to allow us to get caught up in the work we hadn’t yet started.
It was also the time that friends of mine had set aside to bring their wedding party together. Scott E. and Teresa D. had approximately eleven or twelve people in their wedding party, and arranged to have eleven of them meet in Kitchener for a few hours of introductions and too much food. Stefan S., like myself, had been drafted as one of Scott’s groomsmen.
Both Stefan and Rebecca J. were long-time friends of Scott, remembering him back to when the three of them were in high school in Rainy River in northern Ontario. Rebecca wasn’t a part of the wedding party per se, but attended the party as part of the invitation and to visit with friends.
During the course of the evening (which involved many games, some of which gave us unexpected, albeit humourous, insights into certain people’s sex lives), Stefan asked me what I had planned to do at the end of the term. I replied that I had no single thing in mind outside of starting my job. It was then that the idea of a road trip was first suggested. But unlike many other road trips that my friends or I had experienced, this was to be a voyage of an entirely different breed.
Over the course of the next two months, about a hundred email messages passed between the inboxes and outboxes of Rebecca, Stefan, and myself, all intended to coordinate and plan the first vacation I would see in over 5 years. The logistics at times seemed to be a nightmare, and more than once the trip came on the verge of getting canceled. But in the end, the pieces fell together, and the plan came to fruition.
But before you continue any further, you should learn more about who I was traveling with. (It’s kind of important, seeing as I played as much a role in the whole fiasco as them.) Unlike some of my previous excursions, this cast is a small one, so you can come to get to know these people much better and much quicker.
I first met Rebecca J. in the summer of 1992, when I was working for Digital Equipment of Canada Ltd. in Ottawa. One night I was visiting with Scott at his place in Nepean (Scott was working for the Federal Government at the time), when the door bell rang. A moment later Stefan, Rebecca, and Eric walked in the room. Eric is Rebecca’s son, though not by Stefan (Eric’s father is often euphemistically referred to as “The Sperm Donor”).
I must admit that at first I was immediately attracted to Rebecca — she is a very beautiful woman. When I later learned of Rebecca and Stefan’s relationship, I put aside any attraction for Rebecca (it’s a personal policy of mine not to interfere in other’s relationships). This relationship has since culminated with her second child (and Stefan’s first), a darling girl named Thea.
Rebecca is a strong woman: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Strong willed and highly intelligent, it’s hard to wage a battle of the wits with her — unless you happen to be well educated and open-minded, you are bound to lose. Having graduated from Queen’s University in Kingston with a degree in Women’s Studies, Rebecca pursued volunteer work at the “Sex Clinic” where until just prior to the trip she was its director. A full-time position as mother and wife with a husband still in school, Rebecca also searched for a full-time paying job. At the time of the trip, Rebecca was 22 years old.
All I new of Dharmendra N. prior to the trip was that he was one of Stefan’s male classmates, and had a penchant for computers and cars (which according to Rebecca, was all that Dhar and Stefan ever spoke of). Beyond that, I knew nothing of what would eventually become a compatriot on our tour of the Midwest.
Like any Queen’s engineering student I have ever met, Dhar (as he preferred to be called) was well versed in cars. (This habit among engineers is still mostly a mystery to me — even Computer Engineers seem to know far too much about their Honda Preludes.) As Rebecca predicted, Stefan and Dhar talked at length of cars throughout the trip, despite regular protests from Rebecca (often in the form of a change in topic). Dhar was also a computer wizard, having already designed several networks for the Federal Government of Canada.
His parentage of African origin, Dhar was a naturalized Canadian, and like many Canadians he hated the winter. From his parents he developed his taste for spicy food, a taste that unfortunately was never truly satisfied during the trip — even a true Cajun dish in New Orleans couldn’t bring tears to his eyes or sweat to his brow. Dhar was 26 at the time of the trip.
I met Stefan S. at the same time I met Rebecca. Admittedly, I got along with Stefan much better than I did Rebecca at first, but that was due to two things: a sharing of common interests, and my discomfort around Rebecca (a result of my aforementioned attraction — I was a very shy person back then).
Stefan first came to Canada from Germany at the age of 12. He quickly learned the English language and many of the customs. Even today he makes the odd slip of the tongue (although I’ve never caught one), and gets confused when he hears German then tries to speak English, but his efforts to fit in are awe-inspiring.
Stefan possesses many qualities about him that I admire, not the least of which is his complete and utter devotion to his family — both his parent’s family and the one he has with Rebecca. I can only hope that should I ever reach the stage where I am to become a parent, I can possess as much love and strength for my family as Stefan has for his.
Stefan was finishing his second-last year of his Electrical Engineering program at Queen’s University, and greatly looking forward to getting out. Many times he complained about the style of education he received there, and many times wished that he had gone to the University of Waterloo instead. Stefan was 21at the time of the trip.
Lastly there was me, the Observer. More formally, I am Geoff Sowrey. At the time of the trip, I was 23 years old, having completed 98% of my university education. I won’t give you any description of me, I figure that as you read this incantation you will learn who and what I am.