It must be like living in Rio and hating Carnival. Or being a Dubliner who dreads St. Patrick’s Day. Or a citizen of Nero’s Rome who has long grown bored with the repetitive tedium of watching Christians being thrown to the lions. I am part of a beleaguered minority of Munich residents for whom the final two weeks of September is something to be endured, not enjoyed. Ours is the Loathing that Dare Not Speak its Name.
I hate Oktoberfest.
I hate the noise. I hate the crowds. I hate the back alley stench of stale alcohol, sour breath, and undigested meat that wafts through our streets as if a drunken giant had just belched. I hate the febrile atmosphere of borderline mania that descends upon an otherwise relaxed city like a chemical smog. I hate the overpriced beer, the harassed waiting staff, and the loss of personal space.
But, above all else, I hate the jollity. Is there anything in this world more unendurable than forced jollity? That particular species of exaggerated, flushed, gesticulating, guffawing, thigh-slapping gaiety that is forced upon us all once a year because that is when we Have Fun. We know everyone is Having Fun, because it’s Oktoberfest, when we all dress in a uniform in order to Have Fun. The laugher that is a little too loud to be sincere, the umpteenth clinking “Prost!” that everyone pretends not to be irritated by, the arm around the office colleague you don’t like as you dance on tables to music you both hate. Because we’re all Having Fun.
Some believe that hell is an eternity of fire, others an eternity of ice. I believe the damned are destined to spend the numberless aeons of infinity trapped in an S-Bahn with a bunch of drunken teenagers who boarded at Hackerbrücke on their way back from the Wies’n. Oktoberfest is the Saturnalia of modern Munich, the feast of fools when behavior that for the rest of the year would be considered boorish is smiled upon with amused indulgence. Oh look, you’ve had four Maß and you’re drunk. How wonderful. “Ein Prosit, ein Prosit, der Gemütlichkeit!” Splendid, I’ve never heard that before. Do please sing it again.
Oktoberfest is the festival of too much. Enough chickens to populate the Titanic are slaughtered, the liquid volume of beer consumed would float the Titanic, and the degree of flatulence generated by both expels sufficient C02 into the atmosphere to melt the iceberg that sank the Titanic. Well, I’ve had enough of too much. I say it every year, but this time I mean it. I’m staying at home with a good book. No Wies’n for me.
Well, maybe just this once.