For 50 weeks of the year, I'm not really all that interested in going to Germany. But then Oktoberfest comes along and I am once again kicking myself for not being there.
Apart from lack of money, my main problem this time around is that I don't have anyone to go with. The child bride doesn't drink and she's not really a fan of being stuck amid a huge crowd of drunkards. Considering that some 6 million people are expected to take part in this year's German boozery, it's a good bet that Rachel won't be found anywhere near Munich over the next 16 days. If anyone out there is interested in going next year, let me know. My only requirement for a travelling companion is that you be able to lie convincingly -- you will need to do this when we return home and the child bride asks if I drank too much.
"No," you will say. "He was very well-behaved. To be honest, I think he missed you so much, he didn't really enjoy being there."
For those of you playing along at home, two devastating wars and countless soccer defeats have resulted in a general disinterest in Germany and German things here in Britain. Oktoberfest gets very little play. To be fair, though, Britons have their own massive beer-drinking festival -- they call it "Saturday."
For international viewers, as a big thank you for providing us with beer, sausage, pretzels and two ego-boosting wars, Americans host Oktoberfest celebrations in towns all across the country, including places where German influence is almost non-existent, like La Mesa, Calif. (it is from that city's Oktoberfest that this blog gets its name). These events are similar to our St. Patrick's Day celebrations in that the focus is on eating and drinking and reinforcing comical stereotypes. We also do this with Mexicans and Cinco de Mayo.
One of the best single-location* Oktoberfest celebrations I've been to is held at Gasthof zur Gemütlickeit, in Minneapolis. A large tent is erected in the parking lot and then filled to heaving with people and a polka band that is loud and raucous on a Gogol Bordello scale. The band is so loud that you don't so much hear it as feel and think it; it becomes a constant, coursing through your skull, that, when matched with beer consumption, destroys your ability to string together coherent thought. Each time I've gone, I've walked away feeling that it was one of the best nights I've had all year.
*As opposed to those celebrations that take up several city blocks and feature several vendors.