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Beers, bratwursts and great big knockers!

Heidi RicePost IndependentGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

“Ein bier, scheisskopf!” Husband-Head bellowed in a supposedly German phrase that I have no idea where he learned. He then lifted a full mug of beer and took a big swig.And I knew he had no clue as to what he was saying.”Ummm, you really don’t want to say that phrase in Germany when ordering a beer,” I advised him. “You just pretty much called the person serving you a ‘sh–head.’ The traditional word for cheering with a beer is ‘Prost!'”But Husband-Head was practicing up for Oktoberfest, which officially begins on Saturday and will last for the next two weeks.Octoberfest is a natural celebration for Husband-Head. His birthday falls in early October. He’s half German and from Wisconsin – a state which boasts a large German-heritage population who like to consume lots of beer and bratwursts.Wisconsin, in true German fashion, also prides itself on its oom-pa-pa polka music. If you’ve never heard this type of music, you’re in for a real treat. “I don’t want her, you can have her, she’s too fat for me … HEY!” is a traditional polka song, along with the “Beer Barrel Polka.””Roll out the barrel … we’ll have a barrel of fun!” Husband-Head sang loudly along to his German polka songs CD. “Roll out the barrel! We’ve got the blues on the run!”Husband-Head has always wanted to go to an authentic Oktoberfest in Munich, although the now world-famous festival is celebrated all over the world.”Let’s go to Oktoberfest in Munich and you could wear lederhosen and I’ll wear a dirndl,” I suggested enthusiastically.”If you’re talking about those little leather shorts the men wear, that’s not happening,” Husband-Head said firmly. “Only women should be in little leather shorts. Tall women … with legs up to their neck … and long blonde hair …””Three … two … ONE!” I said, snapping my fingers and trying to bring him out of his self-induced hypnotic state as he thought about the idea.But Oktoberfest is a big deal for a lot of people. Along with the celebrations that are held around the world, apparently more than 6 million people alone attend the festival in Munich each year.Because I knew this and because I couldn’t afford for us to go to the real deal, I decided to throw Husband-Head a surprise Oktoberfest party for his birthday one year.I bought a bunch of Beck’s beer, some Jgermeister for shots and served some traditional German fare, including bratwursts, sauerkraut, large pretzels and spatzle – which I think is a kind of noodle, but certainly doesn’t sound very good. “I zink I’ve hat too many Jaegermeisters,” a guy named Hans might say to his buddy, Joachim, while at the Oktoberfest festival. “I zink I’m going to spatzle …”When Husband-Head came into the house for his surprise birthday party, we plopped a traditional green Bavarian hat on his head and put a mug of beer in his hand.”My … vat beeg knockers you haff!” he smiled, immediately getting into the spirit of things as he eyeballed my outfit.My sister, Gretchen, (yes, our names are really Heidi and Gretchen) and I had purchased some dirndls – the traditional dress worn by German women who want to show off their breasts with the peasant-style top. But because we didn’t have traditional German attributes, we put large balloons in the tops of the dresses to make ourselves look … umm … more appealing. Actually, we used them to balance the tray of Jgermeisters we were carrying around and serving to the crowd.At the authentic Oktoberfest in Munich, visitors eat huge amounts of food, that include hendl (chicken), schweinsbraten (roast pork), haxn (knuckle of pork), steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick) and other delectables.And according to 2007 numbers, festival-goers consumed nearly 7 million liters of beer. Many pass out due to drunkenness and these patrons are then dubbed “bierleichen” – German for “beer corpses.”The mass consumption of beer also explains the need for nearly 2,000 toilets and urinals at the festival. Although, using one to find a quiet place to use your cell phone is highly discouraged …Reports say that even with the available portable potties, inebriated festival-goers apparently still urinate on the hills and trees surrounding the festival grounds.The Rodgers & Hammerstein soundtrack from “The Sound of Music” plays softly in the background …”The hills are alive … with the sound of …”Heidi Rice is a staff reporter for the Post Independent. Her column runs every Friday. Visit her website at http://www.heidirice.com to purchase her book column collection or blog with her at heidirice.wordpress.com.


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