Oktoberfest is many things to many people. For some it is a chance to eat, drink and be merry. For others it is an opportunity to explore a more outgoing side of one's personality. And for many, it is a chance to hit on someone in a really low cut bodice and perhaps stagger home with them.
For me Oktoberfest is a celebration of men in leather pants.
Seriously. There is no man on earth with at least some degree of attractiveness that embroirdered deerskin knickers, a checked shirt and an enormous glass of beer will not materially improve.
Ralf has a fine pair of Lederhosen, dark green buckskin with tasteful embroirdering and hand-carved horn buttons. On his 6'4'' physique... well, let me put it this way, ladies: Ten years ago he showed up at work in cheap off-the-rack Lederhose and I promptly broke up with my fiance and moved to Germany.
But that's another story.
You may recall that last year we had a table reserved in the Hacker-Pschorr tent through an indirect connection of friendship with Frank, the plastic surgeon. This year Toby, who is a lawyer, got a table from a grateful client for opening day. Frank joined us this year as well, as did Elke, Tommy, Dirk and several non-German colleagues.
Dirk, a successful partner in a law firm and the kind of guy whose secretary is always in love with, comes to Oktoberfest to admire 16-year-old girls in their low-cut Dirndls and drink himself under the table. He was openly skeptical of inviting Americans to join us: 'Aw, really? They always throw up so early.'
After about two beers, I joined Elke in search of a bathroom, and like last year we were gone for over an hour. Not because it took so long to find or use the facilities but because Elke wanted to visit several of the other tents and I'm the ultimate drunken side kick.
Elke is director for HR at a German company and cuts a fine figure in her dirndl. I myself was dressed like a man, albeit a curvy one, with tan leather pants and a blue and white checked shirt. Not unattractive but nowhere near as eye-catching as Elke.
Don't think Daisy Duke, think Calamity Jane.
As we strolled the grounds an enormous man with a walrus mustache in the exact same outfit as mine nodded cordially and said, 'Nice pants!' He then drooled at Elke.
Last year I had hit that perfect level of tipsiness to sail to the front of all lines with a drunkenly apologetic smile and get away with it but that was - for me - an unusual combination of circumstances. Elke has that kind of mojo all the time so again we effortlessly cut to the front of the line at two different bathrooms and three beer tents.
Elke's impressive power over others also extends to people doing her bidding, as I noticed when she sent me to buy a bottle of water while she bought coffee. On a mission from Elke, the crowds parted before me like butter.
Ultimately we made it back to our table and our leather clad men and the rest of the evening progressed in the usual fashion, with more beer, roast chicken and toasts to friendship followed by pickled fish sandwiches and roller coaster rides.