Originally published in the September 2021 Issue of the Old Town Crier Magazine
“Grab the Yank!!” I hear from behind me.
It’s September 2004, Oktoberfest. I’m in Munich, Germany at the festival with my friends. And yes, Octoberfest does begin in September, not in October. Modern tradition is to have the festival in the last two weeks of September so that it can end on the first Sunday in October, close to October 3rd, German Reunification Day. We are in the Ochsenbraterei (Ox Roast) Tent sponsored by Spaten. There are two huge oxen roasting on spits in one corner of the tent. Each major brewer in Munich erects a tent at the festival. These so-called “tents” are nothing of the sort. They are enormous structures that are more like warehouses than tents. The larger ones hold approximately 6000 people. Imagine a Walmart that has been stripped bare, a band stand placed in the middle, then the rest of the space filled with picnic tables, that would be one tent.
This trip is a religious experience for any beer drinker. It’s the world’s biggest kegger. Over 16 million people from all over the world will make the pilgrimage to Munich during the two weeks of the festival. This is my first of my five trips to Munich for Oktoberfest. I’m a rookie. And I’m not paying attention to the Australian and Irish group behind me. We had been laughing and joking with them earlier. I’m too busy dancing on the bench of our table and slaughtering German drinking songs at the top of my lungs with my buddies while trying to maintain control of the giant one-liter stein of beer in my hand.
I should be paying attention.
“Grab the Yank!” I hear again. And what I stupidly do not realize is that I am the Yank.