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
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
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.