Oktoberfest is a special time, when our desire to get drunk for no reason inspires us to forgive our German friends for that whole Holocaust thingy. Granted, I’ve never held a grudge against the Germans, but I have to be careful living in Los Angeles, as there are countless numbers of elderly Jewish ladies in grocery stores who will lecture you on concentration camp crematoriums if they overhear you praising Oktoberfest, Volkswagons, or Bavarian creme pie.
California may be the best state in the nation for Oktoberfest, because no one with German heritage lives here, so all our celebrations are utterly ridiculous and borderline insulting. Los Angeles’ annual Oktoberfest is held in Torrance, a South Central neighborhood best known for El Salvadoran crime lords and drug addicts who like to rob liquor stores conveniently located next to multiple highway on-ramps.
Only in Torrance would they host an Oktoberfest that starts in the middle of September. Authentic German bands are flown 6,000 miles from Frankfurt and then ordered to play German-sounding versions of “Sweet Caroline”, “Margaritaville”, and “La Bamba”. Once every two hours, band members stroll into the audience and stand on people’s tables playing their accordions and trumpets, while onlookers slip dollar bills into their belts as if they were strippers. The one Caucasian man who lives in Torrance is hired to impersonate German musician Heino, complete with poofy blond hair and sunglasses, and sing horrible made-up songs that even the real Heino wouldn’t take credit for.
The audience has roughly seven white people in it, all of them wearing ridiculous alpine hats with quills like Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s European Vacation. The other 97 percent of the audience is made up of El Salvadorian crime lords, aspiring El Salvadorian crime lords, and 30-40 Hispanic police officers that the city’s police department believes look close enough to El Salvadoran that those in attendance might refrain from rioting.
As you might expect from my description, this Oktoberfest is – to use the popular slang of Californian valley girls – “like, totally amazeballs.” I did nothing but sit at a table not moving for seven hours, and I was grabbed and forcibly molested by heavyset El Salvadoran women no fewer than 467 times. Beer is served in your choice of 1-liter mugs or enormous glass boots. Salted pretzels are the size of pizzas, and kettle corn is served in large plastic bags that one could conceivably use for laundry.
Around 11pm, a man spilled beer on a teenage 300-pound woman at the table next to us, causing her to jump up from her seat, smash her 1-liter beer mug over his head, and then chase him down the aisle and continue bashing him with the remains of her mug. The police walked over, asked what happened, and after she explained that she bashed a man’s head in with her mug, the police said, “Oh, okay. Well don’t do that again.” Then they left.
On the bright side, that event did clear out nearly all of the seating within a two table radius of that large woman’s group of teenage friends. My friends and I were the only people who remained, and we quickly bonded with her group. They spent the rest of the evening removing their belts and whipping each other with them, and performing slightly pornographic stripper moves on any unsuspecting victim who dared to occupy the newly-open seats nearby.
Our group was accepted by theirs because we had the only authentic German in the entire place. My friend’s buddy from Germany, thick accent and all, was quite the hit of the event. Being the only actual German at an Oktoberfest grants a person untold powers of picking up women. The trouble was, he was so drunk he could barely speak full sentences, let alone hit on women properly.
Around midnight, with us questioning his lack of having picked up a woman at the point, our German friend said, in his deep German accent, “I saw these two blonde girls who looked Swedish, and I told them they looked Swedish, but they were not Swedish, they were from Ohio.”
Half an hour later, he was on a roll with the ladies, but he made a fatal mistake when he briefly left the ridiculously attractive woman he had been courting to use the restroom. As is standard with all women who are so drunk they can barely walk, when he returned two minutes later, she was gone, likely making out with a fat guy across the room. He spent the entire car ride home alternating between angrily shouting German curse words and napping.
If you’re ever in Torrance during October, I’d highly recommend their Oktoberfest. Beer is only $11, a bratwurst and potato dinner is only $147.50, and if you murder a man by smashing your glass boot full of Spaten over his head, the police will just politely ask you to clean up the blood with paper towels. It may not be a real Oktoberfest, but it rivals Germany itself in terms of tackiness and dangerously untreated alcoholism.