I don't know when I got so cynical. I used to be so light-hearted and fun. I'm still fun. I just don't like as much stuff as I used to. Or the stuff I used to like has been replaced by other stuff; stuff that comes across more cynical.
I went to Oktoberfest in Mt. Angel, Oregon.
It was nice, in a middle American sort of way. If you're not going to drink beer or eat sausage there's not a whole lot there for you other than the music. So that's where my wife and I were, hanging out in a converted barn, watching a polka band. I haven't seen a lot of polka bands but, of the ones I have seen, it has always been full of old men. Men who seem a particularly harsh shade of red and sweat onions. This band was no different only I couldn't smell their onions.
There was one polka band that broke the mold. It was an entire family (like the Von Trapps) and they each played an instrument (really well) and all the daughters were kind of hot. Hot in a Bavarian peasant sort of way but not like Leelee Sobieski (or whatever?)
I was enjoying the anything-goes vibe (the attitude not the musical) and thought it was fun how everybody was so uninhibited (probably a little sloshed) and didn't seem to care who was watching. I've always been one of those people that can't dance like no one's watching because I know that someone IS watching and I'm scared of looking ridiculous.
This deserves a paragraph: I'm not fashion conscious (I know that you match your leathers, like belt and shoes but doesn't everyone know that by now) and I really don't spend a lot of time in front of the mirror polishing my look (or "look.") I don't care what people think of me in a vague sense of the term. If you don't like me, I'm not going to bend over backwards trying to get you to change your mind. It's very hard to embarrass me because I'm confident in my ability to save face. But, yes, I care if I look dumb.
It comes from being self-absorbed - I know this. I believe that there are several different kinds of self-absorbtion (so does Dave Eggers) and I'm the type that thinks everyone is watching them. Not in a paranoid, draw-the-blinds kind of thing but more of a star-of-my-own-sitcom kind of thing. I don't think that it's that uncommon either. I'm sure there are some people out there that know that they are just a supporting actor in this whole show. Somebody knows that they are the villain.
I know that I'm the star. Not of the world, it's too big, but of my own show - I'm the star of that. If I'm on your show, it's a cameo. If you think you're the star but you hang out with me a lot, I'm sorry but you're not the star - I am. Maybe you have your own show on another network but you are not the star around here.
But the Oktoberfest...
It was fun until I tried to do something other than watch the family rock the barn. Beer was spilling over the top of everyone's stein. There were fat, sweating, Germans in lederhosen all red-faced and double fisting bratwurst. They looked like they were on the verge of heart attack and yet they still pushed the sausages into their red, sweaty, bald little heads. You could smell the puke baking in the port-o-potties and the stale beer from the previous nights evaporated off the pavement making the air thick and muggy.
Everyone seemed fat. Disgustingly fat and still eating. Their pores releasing oil and sauerkraut - long, thin strands of pickled cabbage was oozing out of their skin like mugwumps. There were frat boys in home-made lederhosen (shorts with suspenders) their Hooters T-shirts untucked and plastered to their bodies in wet sections.
And there were lines everywhere. Lines for the tokens. Lines for beer, after you got your tokens. Lines for the bathrooms. Lines for water ($1.50) and lines for the garbage can. The narrow streets were lined with small booths boasting the deepest fried whatever. People moved in slow throngs, half the street going one way, the other half going the other way (vaguely.) Even without our cars, we are trained. Like cattle, everyone shuffles from line to line or stops to wipe the grease that's dripping down their chin and onto the front of ther mumus.
It was like a contest to see who could die the first from heart failure. I was starving but couldn't bring myself to eat. I did not want to be one of these people. These fucking people. It was a celebration of several European countries but, as I looked around, it was an event that celebrated obesity and wealth - the reason so many European countries look at America with disdain.