On Saturday morning, I woke with an awful leg cramp. My calf was a knotted rope and the pain was intense. I tried stretching it by bending my foot back. Massaging it, I could feel the twisted muscle. For a few minutes, I couldn’t get up, couldn’t stand on it, not at all. Finally able to limp my way to the kitchen, my calf felt sore, bruised, and achey. I decided to skip the day’s walk.
We had plans to go to Oktoberfest at the American German Club of the Palm Beaches, in Lantana. There is a traffic light at the Woolbright exit on Route 95 that has a guardrail covered with bumper stickers. My husband is fascinated with it. When do people put these bumper stickers there? Do they hop out of their cars while waiting at the light? How did this get started? There are several bumper stickers for the Oktoberfest that caught his eye, four of them from over the years. He knew the event was coming soon, we Googled it, and actually found a Groupon ticket for $13 which included entry for two and a free beer each. My leg was feeling better so we set off to drink steins of beer and listen to oompah music.
Parking was in a huge field about a half mile walk to the beer halls. This turned out to be a very authentic Oktoberfest. I know this because I was in Munich back in late September, 1981 with my cousin Kathy. In Germany, they celebrate Oktoberfest in late September. I have no explanation for that.
Here in Lantana, the beer halls are similar to German beer halls, and they are clubs that function all year long, not just during Oktoberfest. My husband wants to join. He isn’t German but he studied German in high school which he thinks may qualify him to join the club, although he has retained only a few words of the language.
The Lowenbrau house in Munich, 1981:
On our first day in Munich, we had a hard time getting a beer. You needed to be seated to get served, most of the tables were full or reserved. By the second day we discovered the Lowenbrau house, full of rowdy tourists from America, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Everyone was standing, on the tables. After a few tall steins of beer walking from table to table got tricky. We met a guy from Minnesota. I will never forget his name, although I am sure it was an alias. Meet Mr. Bert Fart:
I realize this photo is incriminating but it was a long time ago. This is the craziest it got in Lantana:
In Munich they played some inane tune called the chicken song. “Nanananna, nanananna.” Everyone danced along, moving their arms like a chicken’s wings, shaking their asses, and squatting down. I have no idea what it had to do with Oktoberfest or German culture, but we joined right in. I didn’t hear this song in Lantana, but I did see a woman wearing a chicken hat.
In Lantana, things were more civilized. Men and women were dressed in costume. Rich loved the Tyrolean hats decorated with a brush. Maybe because he’s a painter, a man of the brush. I told him this and he said, “That would be a good title for a book. Men of the Brush.” I humored him by replying, “Sure. I could write a book about a character who is a housepainter.”
Older couples danced together, gazing into each other’s eyes. It was very sweet.
In Germany, frauleins serve the beers, four large steins in each hand. I thought I had a picture but I can’t locate it. Here are the frauleins of Lantana:
The ferris wheel in Munich was enormous. I remember flying on a swing above the fairgrounds with a welder from Victoria, Australia who was on a year’s walkabout, traveling the world and looking for work as a lumberjack in the Black Forest. The most phantasmagoric light show I’d ever seen lay out beneath us. Later that evening a fraulein caught us kissing in an alley behind the food stalls.
There were rides in Lantana, your typical county fair type of things. Dodge-em cars, teacups, but no ferris wheel.
This caught my eye:
There’s still time to celebrate Oktoberfest, so get out there and enjoy some German beer and a bratwurst. It is a timeless event.
And if you’re ever in Lantana in October, stop by the beer hall.