Tuesday, September 13, 2011

This Is How We Roll In Bavaria

In honor of Oktoberfest season here in Munich - and because I've been too busy to write anything new - I've decided to re-publish an excerpt from an article I wrote back in 2008 about what to expect at Oktoberfest.  The Oktoberfest Planning Commission has made this required reading for all first-time Oktoberfest attendees so please read the following very carefully.

(OK, I made that up.)

The Four Phases of Oktoberfest*
Phase I: Why are people staring at me?
You’ve had your first refreshing sip of ice-cold beer and are prepared to enjoy yourself but several complete strangers are looking at you as if they’ve known you forever and really like you and it’s just a little embarrassing. So you watch the band and look at the ceiling and gulp beer whenever anyone catches your eye, including your boss who's at the next table three sheets to the wind.

Phase II: I love you guys
You’ve finished your first beer and started on a second when it hits you that we are all connected. You start waving excitedly and blowing kisses to people at other tables and most of them wave and blow kisses back, except that guy two tables over who just threw up into his beer. This is the best phase to be in when you have to go to the bathroom because the deep, genuine love you feel for everyone around you allows you to glide past people and obstacles without getting yelled at or arrested. All you have to do is go to the front of the line, put your arms around the person you displaced - as long as they don't work with you - and tell them you love them... right before you dart into the bathroom and lock the door. When you come out they probably won’t be there anymore and even if they are, chances are that they will back away from you nervously so you're home free.

Phase III: I understand everything now
Finally, the unified field theory has been solved by you and the fundamental nature of the universe is no longer a mystery. The nature of the universe is hilariously funny so you laugh out loud. You share your new knowledge with the person sitting next to you and they totally get it. Now that you’ve solved the mysteries of the universe together you know that you’ll be friends forever. Unfortunately, neither of you will remember any of this tomorrow.

Phase IV: It's all good
In this phase, you have moved beyond understanding everything to a quiet, content acceptance of everything exactly as it is. Suddenly you realize that this is a perfect time for a Fischsemmel, which is pickled mackerel on a Kaiser roll with a slice of onion.** As you take that first tangy and slightly chewy bite your happiness is complete.

*There are actually 5 phases but Phase 5 happens the next day and isn’t nearly so nice as the other phases. I won’t say much about Phase V, except that it is a lot less full of universal love, omniscience and Fischsemmel than the previous phases. 

**It's better than it sounds.


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