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Prosit!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on September 18, 2009 by davegerry
The Stein Way

The Stein Way

The biggest fair in the world begins today in Munich.

Yes, it’s Oktoberfest. More than six million people will guzzle more than seven million litres of beer and gorge themselves on such traditional fare as (don’t hold me to these spellings, nor the  lack of umlauts) Sauerkraut, Wurstel, Schweinebraten,  Steckerlfisch, Obatzda and Kasespatzle. If you were reading that out loud while sitting at your computer you might need a Miracle Chamois for the keyboard.

There are Oktoberfests held all over the globe at this time of year, even in such unlikely spots as Hong Kong and Vietnam. Blumenau, Brazil and Kitchener-Waterloo in Canada, with about 700,000 visitors each, are annually vying for second place.

I know something about Oktoberfest. I attended the Kitchener-Waterloo event annually for the better part of a decade.

For the first couple of years I was strictly a care-free, debauched imbiber. Here is an ancient photograph, circa 1976 , in which I am absolutely snockered on Pilsner.

Oktoberfest

Not surprisingly, I do not remember this moment. Though I was wearing the prerequisite souvenir beer hall feathered hat, I don’t think I was sporting any lederhosen (leather shorts).       I may not have been wearing any pants at all.

Later, in my capacity as a reporter for the local television station, I wound  up covering Oktoberfest in all its glory, from the tapping of the first keg to the big parade, year after year after year. This was a completely different experience than getting up on a table and doing the Chicken Dance every few minutes. You try eliciting a coherent response from someone who can no longer tell their hand from a pickled pig knuckle.

Reporter: Sir, are you having a good time?

Man: WHOO! YEAH! YEAH! WHA! WHOO! ZIGGIE ZAGGY!  I’M..A…CRAFINACKERSMACKINLUBE!

At which point the individual inevitably slid beneath his chair to vomit on your shoes.

The first house that Angie and I ever owned was a typical two story brick bungalow in Kitchener ($49,000!)  right across the street from the city’s second largest German Canadian club.

Each Oktoberfest evening a long line of buses would cue up curbside in front of our home. They would let the engines idle for hours.

Eventually, members of the merry horde would stumble out of the festhall into the crisp autumnal air and, with a synchronistic grope, reach for their collective zippers.

I can testify that many of them sought relief in the shrubbery at Casa Gerry.

Keeping cats out of the garden is one thing,  pulling a tinkling Dieter from the hedge is quite another.