by Sam Winston
A MOMENT FROM MUNICH
When he hit the ground I thought for sure he was out cold. If not at least seriously bleeding. The music and the crowd of thousands were so loud that hardly anyone noticed. If he hadn't fallen at my feet and spilled half a liter of beer on me, I probably wouldn't have noticed either.
I was in the middle of explaining to friends how I thought the stereotype of German culture (beer, sausage, women in dirndl and a lot of cheering) strangely resembled the stereotype of American masculinity (Beer! Football! Cheerleaders! Meat!). That is why, I was saying, so many Americans love the idea of the Oktoberfest. Whether my German companions didn't get my parallel or my German was incomprehensible above the din of oompah music I'm wasn't sure. Nevertheless, they looked a bit perplexed.
Just then, a guy came crashing into my legs at the foot of our bench, punctuated by a succinct thud. He had landed forearm and beer first, followed by his cheek and forehead smacking into the upright beer stein that wedged perfectly in between his face and the ground. One could argue that he was trying to save his beer given his arm posture, though half of it still ended up on my leg. Regardless, it was clear that the ground had come up quicker than he was ready for.
At first, he just lay there not moving. I looked at my soaked pant leg, up at my friends whose perplexed look had turned to shock, and back down at the limp body at my feet. Several people were offering him hands to get up, but he still didn't move. With help from another person, I finally picked him up. He wasn't hurt. He was wasted.
I asked him if he was okay in German. He didn't respond, still trying getting his bearings. Then I noticed that his two friends decked in American surfer style shorts and hats had been standing a few feet back jostling and laughing with each other at how hard their boy had just ate it. One of them yelled, "Dude! Where your's beer?" His half hearted attempt to find it tickled his friends even more. "Dude! Where is it?" I picked it up for him, still about a third full of foam, and placed it in his hand. "Yeah!" they said embracing him finally. "Holy crap, dude!" And they dragged him off for another round.
I turned back to my friends and said in German "exactly."
Be sure to check the upcoming print editions of Gambit for a complete article on who reigns supreme, Mardi Gras or Oktoberfest in Munich?