Last night, I attended a rural, Midwestern Oktoberfest being headlined by that rose-wielding Saxon, Bret Michaels. Old men accosted our “hot,” blonde, dirndl-attired admissions counselor for iPhone photos they’d tag on Facebook in some Wild-Hogs-inspired renaissance. Methane-addicted cooks in Nikes and backwards caps lugged boiled sausages out of a vat. We chanted vowels that sounded offensively Americanized in a Jamaican-bobsled kind of way. And the anachronistic chassis of the night fell out when an Oktoberfest virgin, watching a game of drunken college football players pound nails with a hammer into a tree stump, tried drawing connections to cultural aestheticization and Nazis.
This was to be the “big night out” for me and colleagues from the college wherein I teach: me, the aforementioned Admissions Counselor Dirndl, a marriedwithchildren advisor, our “single-guy-looking-to-get-laid” study-abroad director, and a Spanish professor. But, the Spanish professor and his girlfriend who runs the campus bookstore—smartly, citing rain—stayed home, leaving a sudden and perceptible imbalance in the night’s IQ and likelihood we’d veer into a bro-infested bar where they would heckle Obama whenever his visage appeared on the televisions. Also, we’d be going to bars with televisions.
When we arrived at a bar with a door guy wearing a amber, light-up Oktoberfest beads around his neck, I found the marriedwithchildren advisor already regaling everyone about a story of his the size of his child’s poop that afternoon.
“Couldn’t we set the bar any higher for those Rhodes Scholars?” I asked.
“I am proud of my kids!” He did that thing guys do when they “fake punch” you in the face.
“But you left them home on Oktoberfest,” Single Study Abroad Guy said.
“They’ll learn,” causing laughs amongst the festing veterans.
I left the circus tent and went inside to get drinks. I’d never been festing. But, it seemed fun. An arsenal of taps in woodcarving ducks and gold script font lined the bar. I pointed at one called Munich Gold. I wanted to be festive.
“The Münchener Gold or Hefe Weisse?”
“Um, maybe just a pint?” I asked, not hearing well.
“Not sizes. Flavors, boy.”
The bartender was four feet tall, size touchdown! bra, and cherry lip-gloss. Someone had sprinkled glitter on her face.
“Oh,” I said.
Re-educated, when I came out to the tent, Admissions Counselor Dirndl took my hand and put it on her chest.
“It’s all sticky,” she pouted. “Some jerk spilled beer all over me.”
“Yeah, it’s wet.”
“You bet she is, Dunstan,” MarriedwithChildren Advisor said.
Godfuckingdamnit…MarriedwithChildren Advisor. Background: he un-secretly hates his marriage. And, he’d announced he’d told his wife in lieu of sleeping with a celebrity, he’d be allowed to sleep with Admissions Counselor Dirndl (she was on a minor cable reality show earlier this year). But, now, seeing both of us, he seized on a new plan for the night. He whispered to me while the others helped a man with a boot-shaped stein attached to a string around his neck get back on his feet after falling over.
“Why haven’t you guys ever had sex? You’re both good-looking and single.”
Not inclined to the precedent of sleeping with colleagues, I batted away his unsolicited wing-manning. But, his haranguing continued.
“Just do it; you’re smart, but you’re sooooo stuuuuupid.”
I ignored him by downing another bite-sized Coors Light cans, like tiny little grenades packed with water and trace elements of alcohol. And then I suggested we explore the festival grounds.
At our first country bar, packed dirndl-to-lederhosen-to-Carhart-jacket-to-Forever 21-top, Eric Church bulldozing into my ears, a shorter man pushed me away at the bar for his drinks. “You social miscreant!” I yelled, but he didn’t apologize. So, I reached over him and removed his glasses and handed them to the baffled bartender.
Four guys had to remove us.
“Learn some manners. You don’t do that,” said a dad resting his iPhone on his beer paunch.
“I will not be lectured on virtue by you, motherfucker,” I announced.
Within five seconds, Single Study Abroad Director had removed me to the sidewalk.
“This place is evil,” I said, as we wandered through the police-cordoned off streets. A drunk tank was set up behind the Subway, with people screaming, laughing, and falling over onto plastic buckets. Lederhosens were having sex with dirndls with the port-a-potty doors halfways open.
Admissions Counselor Dirndl took my hand and led us to the next bar. MarriedwithChildren Advisor, seeing the gesture, kept up his voyeuristic campaign.
“Take her home, professor! Trust me, she wants you to, too!”
Finally, near a window serving pizza, I relented.
“Dude. No more. Just stop!”
When we got inside, I ran to the bathroom.
“Dunstan!” He cried. “You’re being an asshole.”
“I know! I am an asshole. Now, leave me alone.”
He tried following me into the bathroom. So, seeing no other options, I slammed the door in his face. “Listen motherfuck…ouch!”
Then, he pushed through the door, nearly snapping off the hinges, and in a scene pulled directly from a Miller Lite advertisement, yelled, “I can’t do this anymore! I love you man!”
I didn’t look at him, just raised my eyebrows and pretended he yelled at someone else.
“Why don’t you guys piss and take it outside!” Yelled a guy in knitted shorts and a triangle hat punctured by a feather.
“We’re best friends!” He yelled back.
“We’re not. I barely know him,” I managed from the urinal, assuming at any point his fist would collide with the back of my nose.
“Ziggy Ziggy Ziggy oi oi oi!” Yelled a man in a college football sweatshirt, holding a stein, and I ran out.
In the bar, our Single Study Abroad Director was grabbing the ass of a Dirndl Associate of our Admissions Counselor Dirndl, our Admissions Counselor was trying to scale the bar and perform a traditional Bavarian twerk, college basketball players blowing into a large horn, ESPN on the bar’s surfeit of 50-foot television screens, somewhere a rogue polka band was getting its ass beat by local Visigoths, and the angry-faced MarriedwithChildren Adviser storming toward me.
I grabbed the hand of Admissions Counselor Dirndl and ran out the front door; we reached a brief lieu in the traffic.
“What is this!?” I asked, pawing the fabric of her dress, noticing the intricate, crocheted apron tied around her waist. I told her I thought it was beautiful.
“It’s my Grandma’s. She wore it when she was crowned Mrs. Oktoberfest in 1987.”
“Wow. She had a good figure.”
“Are you saying I have a good figure?”
She pressed into me.
“Maybe, we should move out of the street.”
“Um, I’m not in a good spot right now, I just…”
I swiveled to see two of my students in ragged Northface jackets; they’d been festing 24 hours straight. They raised their eyebrows. I grimaced. Admissions Counselor Dirndl grinned at the girls and put her hands on the buttons of my jacket.
“I gotta go,” I said, spinning off into the dark.
“Dunstan! Text me when you’re home!”
Admissions Counselor Dirndl waved to me under a dirty streetlamp. Her skirt bounced, revealing two white kneecapped socks, as a city bus carrying inebriated, shouting festers splashed past in the rain. A man in a triangle hat punctured by a feather was pissing against the outside of a chain Mexican restaurant. The oom-pa-pa of a distant tuba penetrated my brain. I turned and walked into the parking garage to find my car.