Meet Fred (Frederika) and Fred (Frederik), the happy German couple, about to embark on a long-planned getaway. They have just arrived at the boarding area for daily Flight 2 of the official airlines of the Federal Republic of Emergent Deutschland (F.R.E.D.), after a bit of a hike, to say the least. Their plane lifts off in just 13 minutes, and they’ve had one heck of a time making their way through the sprawling terminal and down the disjointed and rambling concourses, with their food courts and mini-malls and spa areas, to Gate #4713-09f.5 — after a seemingly interminable grind through baggage check-in and passenger screening.
You might say that Fred & Fred are twins (in case you hadn’t noticed). Oh, no, not twins in any genetic or blood-linked sense. No, Fred & Fred are more twins of spirit and habit.
In their teens during the mid-‘70s, each of them became enthralled by the Andean melodies of the Peruvian quartet, Urubamba; still today their album collection contains duplicate well-worn copies of that group’s self-titled 1973 disc, each in plastic-bagged near-mint-condition record sleeves.
Later that decade, they just happened to enroll in many of the same classes at Mihai Eminescu University in the western Romanian city of Timisoara, meeting in a chance encounter hiking one Saturday on the fertile Banat plain overlooking Bega Canal. Though University life (and University degrees) seemed to agree with the disposition of neither Fred, their time in Timisoara proved idyllically romantic. They became a couple, and could often be seen strolling, hiking, rafting, skiing, climbing, biking, jogging, geo-caching, trail-blazing, sledding, bungee-jumping, running, bird-watching, triathloning, spelunking, roller-blading, mushrooming, camping, skinny-dipping, yoga-ing, backpacking, pole-vaulting, canoeing, jump-roping, skydiving, kiting, swimming, frisbeeing, kayaking and otherwise enjoying the rich and varied Romanian terrain for miles about the city.
Through the backpacking community of itinerant European students and free spirits, they became involved with Flying Pig Youth Hostels, and eventually relocated to The Netherlands, to assume management of Noordwijk, a hostel just 50 meters from the beach between Amsterdam and Rotterdam. It was during their stay in Noordwijk that the Freds developed their fondness for a limited (and identical) cuisine. They would dine at least monthly on Rijstaffel, the Dutch-Indonesian smorgasbord, surviving on only tea, water and granola bars all the weeks in between. This no doubt contributed to their identically reedy physiques, while their mutual shunning of shampoos and conditioners and disdain of stylists led to their similar coifs. And, like many couples that are together constantly, they began to increasingly mimic and reflect one another’s attitudes, movements, language and personal idiosyncrasies.
Being the active, outdoorsy, backpacky, mono-dietary sort of duo, it was perhaps only natural that they evolved into their similar minimalist wardrobes. Today it seems that their suitcases, like their wardrobes back home, carry nothing but sneakers, running shorts, tube socks, belly shirts, and tiny handbags. Fred has even given up wearing sports bras as just another unnecessary contrivance of a consumer society (and, besides, Fred says she’s far more attractive braless, anyway. Wouldn’t you agree?).
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