“Excuse me… are you a Bronie?”

Last week, I had to drive to Springfield, Mass. as early as possible to pick up my photographs at the Big E.  Oh yeah, and pick up my ribbons and pick up my prize money.  Every dollar this year goes to help pay off Cardachrome sooner, so that the 2005 Saturn Ion is mine, free and clear.

So I’m on the Mass Pike, and I notice that my gas gauge is starting to creep closer to that little E.  And if I don’t put some octane in my car before the needle hits the little E, I might not make it to the Big E.

Thankfully, there’s a travel plaza just a couple of miles away.  And gasoline in Massachusetts is about 15 cents per gallon cheaper than it is in New York.

I filled Cardachrome’s tank, then went in to get some breakfast at the travel plaza’s McDonald’s.

While I waited for my food, a group of three sleepy twenty-somethings approached the cashier.  “Can I get a cup of coffee?” one of them asked.

“What size coffee would you like?” the cashier smiled.

“As big as you can make it, and as strong as you can make it,” he replied.

“Guy should probably get his own pot o’ coffee,” I joked, “just give him the glass pot and let him chug it from the opening.”  We laughed.

And then I noticed.  The coffee orderer’s T-shirt had a picture of a cartoon horse on it, with the words “Apple Jack” in script.  One of the other twenty-somethings – the only female among the trio – was wearing a badge lanyard with a picture of cartoon horses on it.  The third person in the group was wearing several homemade buttons – all with cartoon horses on them – all over his T-shirt.

Well, let’s see.  You know I gotta ask this.

“Scuse me,” I said.  “I’m just curious… are you three Bronies?”

“Yes we are,” Mr. Apple Jack said.  “Nice to meet you.”  He extended his hand for a handshake.

“Nice to meet you, too,” I replied, shaking his hand without hesitation.  Hey, no way am I going to question if anybody’s a fan of a particular TV show, when I go to at least three “Weird” Al Yankovic concerts every time he’s on tour.

“We just came back from a convention in Ohio,” Mr. Apple Jack said.  “We have to drop her off in Framingham, and then my buddy and I are driving up to Nashua.”

“Long journey,” I noted.

“Yeah, we’ve been taking turns driving so that we can make it back home in the morning.”

“So what’s the appeal of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic show?”  I asked.

“It’s got great stories, it’s got great animation, it’s just fun to watch,” replied Mr. Buttons.

“Okay,” I replied.  “It’s just that there’s so many people who have absolutely no idea about the show, or why it appeals to men as well as to women.  Some people think that Bronies are adults that still live in their parents’ basement.”

“Not true,” said Mr. Buttons.  “I live on the SECOND FLOOR of my parents’ house.”  We laughed.

Then the girl showed me what looked like a hologram-printed trading card.  “This is a convention-only card,” she said.  “Oh, there’s a small crease on it.  I’ll have to list that when I put it on eBay.”

“How much is that card worth?”  I asked.

“About $300 if it wasn’t creased.  Maybe it’s worth $150 now.”

We chatted for a few more minutes, then we went our separate ways and onto our separate journeys.

And as I traveled to Springfield to pick up my artworks from the Big E, I thought about the appeal of popular television shows and how many of them have spawned their own cult fandoms.  Whovians and Trekkors immediately come to mind, as do fans of televised anime and the like.

So some people are fans of a cartoon about magical little horses.  Good for them.

Now why can’t I find one of those fan conventions that are specific to fans of Downton Abbey?   Now THAT would be cool…