A Houstonian Abroad: Oktoberfest 2013, Y'all (Part 2)
A word on photos.
Some of what you see here (and in yesterday's entry) were taken with my Sony DLSR, others with my phone. There's no real strategy involved: if I see something interesting, I take a pic. Where I'm going with this is, if you're looking for a gallery of boob shots of women in dirndls, Sie bellen up the wrong Baum. Sorry, but I find it inarguably creepy to take unsolicited shots of people (not that plenty weren't doing it), so anything in this blog was taken with the subject's approval (prior or subsequent), or because the subject in question had placed themselves in a distinctly public posture (the guy chugging yesterday).
Also, it was also really cold both days I was there, so boob shot opportunities were limited.
All that said, I didn't even think to take a picture of my vomit-covered leg. The offending young lady, who upchucked without so much as an Entschuldigen Sie, was hustled off by her friends, leaving me standing unsteadily in the Theresienwiese while assorted passers-by pointed and laughed.
Or so I assume. It's what I would have done.
I suppose I could have approached one of the food stands to see if anyone had a hose, but I doubt they'd appreciate the effect my pants would have on business. Likewise, I wasn't about to subject my tentmates to the sight and/or smell, so I went back to the hotel, which seemed like the prudent course of action at the time. I rinsed my jeans off the best I could, and then - recall the words "prudent course of action" - decided to take a nap.
Don't judge me. I have three kids and hadn't had an uninterrupted six (much less eight) hours of sleep in months. The lure of that twin bed, under the open window gently allowing egress to the breeze/honks/German profanity was too much to resist. And so I slumbered.
Nothing says beer-fueled mayhem like ... radishes?
When I finally lurched awake and grabbed my phone, I honestly thought I'd slept through the entire night (a fact made more alarming by the fact "Barry" wasn't in his bed). Eventually, I realized it was, in fact, 7:00 *at night*. "Perfect," I thought, "I can head back to the festival . Perhaps no one will have noticed my six hour absence."
We'll never know if that's true or not. Personally, I suspect Barry and Jim didn't give a rat's ass about my disappearance, considering the abundance of friendly German (they do exist), American, Australian, and Welsh(!) folks sitting in our immediate vicinity at the Hofbrau tent. What I do know is that I didn't make it back immediately, as I ran into Barry heeling down the Schwanthalerstraβe like a listing galleon (thanks, Sting).
My initial bemusement changed to alarm when he told me he'd been knocked down by some English dudes while in line for the toilets, losing his glasses in the process. Talk about your delayed post-colonial anger. The fuckers also kicked him while he was down, and for the rest of the week he sported a bruise on his abdomen that looked a lot like when Johnny Knoxville took a riot suppression beanbag to the gut.
Barry wishes he had that kind of ab definition, though.
Long story short: we went back to the hotel room, whereupon Jim (the two had gotten separated leaving the tent) and I returned to the festival to - get this - look for his glasses. Hey, you never know. Unsurprisingly, our search was fruitless, and we ended up going back the next morning to what is possibly the most shamefaced place in Munich: the Oktoberfest Lost and Found (or Fundbüro).
"Yes, I'm sure your iPhone 5 is here, sir."
Damn place doesn't open until 1:00, though. So Barry went back to sulk/sleep, while Jim and I, daring transAtlantic warriors that we are, decided to go ahead and - wait for it - hit the beer tents! After the previous night's shenanigans, what could possibly go wrong?
Pretzels: the national food of Bavaria.
Okay, that was kind of melodramatic. In truth, Jim and I hung out in the Paulaner tent for a while without incident before meeting back up with Barry at the Fundbüro (shockingly, no glasses. Lots of shoes, though) and then, having obtained his prescription from his wife back in the States, heading into the city center to get them replaced.
Oktoberfest is easily one of the whitest places I've ever been, but Munich proper is pleasantly diverse. Not that everything's all beer and falafel, case in point the anti-mosque protest taking place in the Karlsplatz. I felt like an asshole for accepting some literature before entirely comprehending what was going on. For some reason, they didn't cover that subject in my college German classes.
Speaking of Muslims, does this guy look familiar?
You have to squint your eyes a little.
Barry's glasses were ridiculously easy to replace. It's tempting to fall down the rabbit hole of assuming no one outside the United States can provide certain goods and services, like express eyewear, but of course a bustling metropolis like Munich came through (vielen dank, Pro Optik). Find me a place on the Continent that gives you more than one ice cube in your goddamn soda, on the other hand, and I'll crown you Holy Roman Emperor.
By the time we got done kicking around the city center and picking up replacement specs, the afternoon was winding down. Barry, for some reason, wasn't much in the mood to continue the festivities, so he settled in for an evening of - I don't know - chamomile and Proust. Jim and I, not having been violently assaulted, decided to spend our last evening at the Spaten tent.
The last in focus picture of the evening.
Jim's superior command of the language served us well, as we were able to slide into a few seats in the quote-unquote "reserved" section with no fuss. We met some folks from New Jersey, and maybe I'm still in mourning for James Gandolfini, but I swear one of the women was a dead ringer for Adriana from The Sopranos. We watched in amusement as a kid who looked maybe 15 hit on her sister (who was 50+) and joined in singing "Ein Prosit" for the umpteenth freaking time and trying to keep our balance on the suddenly swaying benches (not always successfully, in my case).
Two days is more than enough time for Oktoberfest, in my humble, pre-cirrhotic opinion. You can drink more beer than a season's worth of Texans' tailgates in a single day and still have time to check out the rides and marvel at the delightful aromas coming from the inexplicably abundant fish stands. In retrospect, I think I might know why that one girl was heaving.
Jim and I found ourselves milling around with the closing time crowd for the second night in a row, and once again I noticed how generally good-natured all the stinking drunks were. I saw people passed out on the ground or staggering with their torsos more or less parallel to the ground, but no fights. It was like a PG-13 Bosch painting. That's Europe for you. I see more fights at an average House of Blues show than I did the entirety of my time at Oktoberfest (asshole English hooligans aside).
We wisely elected to take a pedicab the whopping three blocks to the hotel, thus ending our Oktoberfest experience. The rest of our week was spent in Austria and then Frankfurt, but was comparatively boring. In closing, I'll leave you with the last pic I apparently took that final night. In the Spaten urinals, you're greeted by pictures of attractive women mocking the size of your penis.
Well that's just mean.
Suddenly the lack of aggression makes sense.
Get the Theater and Arts Newsletter
Exclusive discounts and announcements to Houston theater shows and art events