Once upon a time, there was a girl named Emily. Emily enjoyed going to dingy bars filled with dingy people. The music was fist-pumping, the drinks were blue, and her signature dance move was an intermittent "sexy" hair flip. She yelled out Chappelle Show quotes to people across the street before ducking into Bamba's and requesting extra salsa for her steak burrito.
And then that little girl turned 22. And none of those things were appealing anymore. Emily started requesting no-cover bars only, and scoffed at the girls who wore tube tops in January.
Now I tell you this, not to warn of the woes of growing up. Nor to emphasize what a terrible person I once was (because I wasn't), but to set you up for my personal mindset while going to Lakeview for Oktoberfest.
See, I've never been to an Oktoberfest. I can't think of a good reason why, except maybe the fact that every year I forget that Oktoberfest is, in fact, in September and not October (and COME ON, Shelly.) But not this year! This year I finally remembered! I even spent entire minutes on the interwebs searching for an Oktoberfest, put it on the calendar, and, barring other mildly entertaining substitutions, determined that I would go.
On the el, Joe and I speculated what Oktoberfest would be like. A street full of polka music, leiderhosen, tall beers in glass boots, veiners, warm pretzels...basically, the extent of my knowledge of German heritage. Now according to Sara, that is what Lincoln Square Fest is. Sadly, we learned that tidbit after the fact.
SUSPICIOUS FACT #!: When we got there, we realized that the fest isn't in the street. It's in and around a church. Okayyyyy...
SUSPICIOUS FACT #2: The $5 donation fee was strictly enforced and no where was it posted or stated that it was, in fact, a donation.
SUSPICIOUS FACT #3: Upon entrance of the fest was a large table set up with girls handing out Bud Lights. Joe and I questioned aloud, "Who goes to Oktoberfest and gets Bud Light?"
SUSPICIOUS FACT #4: Once past the beer and into the mass of backwards hats and black North Face jackets, we were no longer able to hear ourselves above the band playing under a massive tent packed with people. "WHAT SONG IS THAT?" I yelled into Joe's ear. It took him a few minutes, but eventually he turned back to me. "SAVE A HORSE, RIDE A COWBOY," he responded.
Now here--right here--is where we should have turned around and gone home. But we'd gotten all the way there. And we had been assuming a level of debauchery. I mean, it's Oktoberfest. So we pressed on, determined to at least find a pretzel.
We passed a girl who was struggling through the crowd, holding a styrofoam plate of oily stir fry. Joe turned to me (we were single-file at this point as we searched the grounds) and we both said at the same time, "WHO GETS CHINESE AT OKTOBERFEST?"
We passed through a bottleneck and out to a new mass of people: those in line for food. There was a booth for cookies, one for Polish food, one for Mexican, there was the Chinese place the girl must have stopped at, more booths selling Bud, Bud Light, and 312 (a local Chicago brew). And--there it was. German food. I could make out, among the items, bratwurst, pretzels, and hot dogs. It was the only German booth in the entire space. There were over 100 people in line. We realized why the girl had opted for the stir-fry.
Joe and I made our way through the bottleneck again, past the guy yelling, "Which way to the pisser?" (as he stood four feet from a Port-a-potty) and into the church basement. There were two beer booths inside, directly across from each other. Their lines seemed to blend together, holding as tight as a zipper. That and an ATM was all that was inside. I just asked Joe if he remembered if this was German beer or more Bud products. He can't remember either. Neither of us could find the end to a line, so we went back outside to the food. Maybe the German food line would be shorter.
It was longer. So we did what any sane person would do. We got in line for Polish food. At least, I conceded, I would get a sausage and sauerkraut.
As we stood there, somehow the pathway for all the traffic became the area directly in front of us. The gap grew bigger and bigger as six people at a time would pass us. Soon we would be cut off from our Polish food all together. We had to do something, and fast. I jumped in front of people, literally bouncing off of them until I had reached the other side. I stood so close behind the guy before me in line, I'm sure he could feel my breath on his neck. The problem was, I had completely cut off some Dude. But I had to stand my ground. Plus, at this point, I'm not sure if you could tell, but I was pretty annoyed at the entire experience. So I stood there and said, "THIS IS WHERE I'M STANDING NOW."
He just stood there, looking at me. "Really? You're doing that?"
"I like the attitude," he said sarcastically, and he and his girlfriend walked around me. I felt like an idiot. That can't have been the best way to do that. But then the guy in front of me in line turned around. "That was pretty B.A." he said. I was THIS close to giving him a from-behind bear hug.
Finally, Joe and I got our 3 pounds of potato (is there any other way?) There had also been no foresight of the Oktoberfest people to set up places for people to sit or eat. Luckily, the fine people of Bicycle playing cards had set up poker tables. I ate my potato pancake on a fuzzy green table across from some foreign kids debating how to spell "radical." And I enjoyed it.
Joe and I deemed this fest "Worst...Fest...EVER," threw away our leftover kielbasas, and left.
The thing is, I had thought I was going out for a tall, hearty lager and some schnitzel (whatever that is.) And what I got was every frat party I've ever been to, but with longer lines for the bathroom. I understand that some people enjoy the noise and the crowds and the plastic cups and the thumping music. But I don't. I don't like any of that. And maybe back when I was 21, I might have. Or at least I could have put up with it. But within those short four years, something must have changed. Maybe it's the boyfriend. Or maybe I've gotten boring. Or maybe none of those things were EVER really the true me but I did them because, hell. It was college.
When we left, we headed over to our friend's place for part two: Whiskey Night. We stood on his roof, drinking spiked warm cider, making innuendos about Knob Creek, and overlooking this:
And it felt so me. Well, 25-year-old me.