Essential New Word of the Week: nappetite (definition hint: so…sleepy…)

German is kind of a crazy language. The average German speaker sounds like a tracheotomized Klingon, and the vocabulary is nuts. By smashing together suffixes and prefixes, they can cram a whole sentence’s worth of information into one word. For example, whereas I might say “subway,” the Germans might say something like “Der Undergroundenzoomentracken.” They have a word for everything.

I learned this while on a recent trip to Munich, because I experienced a situation that English was ill-equipped to handle. Specifically, I needed a word that described the feeling one gets when accidentally fulfilling what should have been a lifelong quest. For the record, that word for is Scheisseporn, and I encourage you to Google it as thoroughly as possible. Especially if you’re at work right now. Trust

You see, it occurred to me that it would be worthwhile to travel around the world, looking for the single best drinking experience that life had to offer. I could go to titty bars in Thailand, wine harvests in Tuscany, and frat parties at {insert your school name here}. But the whole idea was moot, since I was having it smack in the middle of the obvious winner, anyhow: Oktoberfest.

“I was in real danger of passing out and drowning in a random beer puddle.

Ah, Oktoberfest! The legendary event so often imitated, but never duplicated. If you take the time to understand her, she’ll welcome you in and show you the time of your life. For a modest price. She’s like a whore with a heart of gold who’s also your best friend. And her nipples squirt beer. There’s no drinking venue on planet Earth that can measure up.

How did I reach this conclusion? Take a peek through my Oktoberfest diary, painstakingly transcribed by a team of experts who specialize in decoding drunken, nonsensical, beer-stained texts written in mustard on the back of coasters.


I traveled to Munich with a couple I’ve known for years, Sylvia and Jason. They’re great fun to drink with, and all the logistics of the trip were taken care of. Which suited me, because I planned to mortgage my entire capacity for thought. Left to my own devices, I’m sure I would have ended up sleeping under a bridge like a fairy tale troll. Fat German children would wander past and poke me, en route to their candy houses.


We arrived at the gates, not really knowing what to expect. And what we saw was…a carnival? There were kiddie rides, cotton candy booths, and a midway full of games, run by inscrutable Bavarian carnies. I admit it, for a brief moment, I panicked. This was Oktoberfest? But as I walked through the grounds, the enormous beer tents soared majestically into view. The canvas swayed, almost as if to reassure me….


Even though we were a solid 90 minutes early, the crowds around the doors did not look promising. We originally had planned to visit the beer tent(s) that most interested us; we soon realized it would be a mad dash for wherever we could get in. Jason spoke a little German, but he was flatly unwilling to create a diversion by yelling “Look! It’s David Hasselhoff!”


Our coordinated assault on Germany would not be deterred. We split up, each armed with a BlackBerry, and within 5 minutes, Sylvia found a way in and texted us. That’s pretty much how the Allies won WWII, by the way. We met up in the Hacker-Festzelt tent. I couldn’t exactly pronounce the featured beer, but as long as I could pantomime drinking, I could make my intentions clear enough.


The tent was filling up fast, and without a seat, you couldn’t get served. People who showed up late were doomed to shuffle around like painfully sober ghosts. We were about to try our luck at a less popular tent (there’s apparently one sad area that served only wine—but that would be like going to the Red Light District to enjoy the architecture). I suggested we take one last look at a loft, high above the main floor.


To our general dismay, we saw that all the tables were either taken or reserved. Except…one wedged in right behind the waitress station. It was a crappy table, but then again, there were literally thousands of people wandering around aimlessly. We sat, feeling triumphant. At that moment, no force on heaven or earth would have been strong enough to pry my mighty buttocks from yonder bench. The hard part was over.


We were soon joined by some strangers. Italians, as it turned out. I was hoping for some icy Teutonic beauties with blonde hair and blue eyes, or at least a stereotypical German fatso in his best lederhosen, but no such luck.


Safely ensconced, I could now take a minute just to appreciate the scope of everything. This tent was enormous, and stuffed to capacity. No word of a lie, there had to be over 10,000 fellow beer-lovers in that tent. Moreover, it was lavishly decorated, and, despite the fact we were sitting next to five sweaty Italian men, delicious aromas were wafting all over the place.


Just about every girl in the place was dressed in the traditional Oktoberfest costume. We called it a Fraulein outfit, and unless you were some kind of cleavage-hating extremist, it was easily the sexiest thing Germany has ever produced. These outfits could make the most flat-chested, mustachioed hildebeast into a $5.99-a-minute fantasy come to life.


Under an hour away from start time, and the anticipation was building. Meanwhile, there was plenty of other stuff to be had. A pretzel vendor, for example, was hauling her enormous basket of baked goods to each table in turn. Oh, I like pretzel day. We enjoyed some with a kind of a lemony cola. Soon, I thought, my head would feel like that pretzel—salty and twisted.


It was time to risk the dreaded meat coma. First we tried Leberkase, which Sylvia helpfully described as “Fancy German Slab Dogs.” It’s only a matter of time before that catches on stateside. We also tried Weisswurst, a kind of white sausage that seemed to defy the laws of physics. I mean, the innards of cows and pigs are presumably not fluorescent white. But no matter…beer soon!


The moment has arrived! The Mayor of Munich walked in, escorted by an Oompah-Band. That’s exactly the kind of perk I wish my job provided. The Mayor ceremonially tapped the first keg to launch the event. I don’t know this man, but I have to assume this and this alone was the reason he got into politics.


Patiently waiting to order our first beer. That’s OK, we were in an out-of-the-way seat, and the place was really coming alive. Those waitresses were amazing. They carried a dozen or so heavy, full steins at a time through a densely packed crowd. I don’t know how they did it, but I bet the grope-factor was pretty high.


To pass the time, I wrote a rhyming couplet: Still waiting with a powerful thirst; things were taking a turn for the wurst. Also, every 10 minutes or so, the band played what must have been the Oktoberfest anthem. It was a catchy melody, perfect for swinging a beer stein back and forth. If only we had some…


Still waiting, and getting increasingly frustrated. I thought if I heard that damn song one more time, I’d stuff schnitzel into my ears. Those asshole Italians next to us were not helping, either. Every time the waitress came by, they would wave her off. We just couldn’t get her attention, and our moods were starting to seriously darken. Even though I was trying to pass as a local, I was one sour Kraut.


Finally, finally, FINALLY! We have been brought beer! Life has become, as Sylvia and Jason put it, “sunshine and kitten tails.” We sang: Ein Prosit! Ein Prosit! Der Gemuetlichskeit! I don’t know what it meant, but it was a happy song for us once again. Also, it seemed to clear out a lot of my phlegm.


Surely this beer was brewed by angels. I’m usually happy enough drinking whatever swill my local will serve by the pitcher, but this was enough to make me into a bona fide beer snob. I swore to give up all those inferior non-German brews with the palate and character of a scab-infested whore who enjoys walking into manure-caked walls. See, I even got the lingo down pat!


Even though the service picked up, we started ordering two at a time for ourselves. For all we knew, our entire table could have been annexed at any time. And the three of us did share Polish ancestry. Anyway, the beer was going down way faster than it had any right to. Especially since it was served by the liter.


After beers number two and three, a buzz started setting in—the kind of buzz one can only get from downing an insane amount of booze while surrounded by an enormous party containing cleavage-flaunting teens. I wonder what the German word for that is. As I got my drunk on, I started taking some great photos of, ahem, the German Alps.


After the fourth liter, it was time to break the seal. I saw the sign for the delicately-named “pissoir.” This is apparently an actual word, but the drunken 10-year-old in me couldn’t help but giggle. Pee-logistics could have been a wet, embarrassing nightmare, but those efficient German minds really came through. There were no urinals, but a wall-to-wall metal trough with just enough of a water flow to keep it sanitary. Since I had to piss like a racehorse anyway, the trough was just fine by me.


Number five, and the Oompah band was still tootling away in the center of the tent, when more musicians sat down right in our loft. I didn’t really understand their purpose, but I called them Horst und der Glockenspielers. (That’s German for “Horst and the Glockenspielers.”) They played a happy set, and sat right down to enjoy Oktoberfest. This is the point where my memory starts to get a bit hazy, but I think they were wearing funny hats as well.


By this point, I had consumed six liters of Hacker-Festzelt’s finest and eaten more sausage than a lapsed Catholic girl making up for lost time. On top of that, I was still fighting jet lag. In retrospect, I was probably in very real danger of passing out and drowning in a random beer puddle.

It was time to pack it in for the night. Jason and Sylvia managed to smuggle out souvenir beer steins; I knew I was way past the point of inconspicuous larceny. Back at our hotel, we crashed, hard. I didn’t even have a bed, but (I think) some kind of leather collapsible S& M bench. And I was either too drunk to notice, or else I kind of liked it.



Older, slightly wiser, and not all that lucid, we made sure to go early on our second day. Having made a large deposit in the German National Bank of Karma, seat-wise, we were more than ready to make a withdrawal. We bustled into the Paulaner tent, and found a place right in the middle of the action. We would be close enough to see each drop of beer trickle down our neighbors’ mustaches. And their husbands’ mustaches, too!


Killing several hours in advance of a drinking binge was a formidable, and some would say, unproductive challenge. But Sylvia, ever the thinker, ran out to buy us a German card game called Skat. And if you actually followed my earlier Google instruction, you’ll know to be weary of anything German with a name like Skat. But this seemed to be a standard card game, only with instructions we had no hope of understanding.


The security at Oktoberfest was somewhat baffling. They wore identical uniforms, and marched around in packs of four, giving stern warnings about this and that. Now, normally I’d avoid an easy Gestapo joke…and this is no exception. But in an effort to keep it lighthearted, their “uniforms” were actually red shirts that read “Fashion Police.” That’s probably hilarious to the refined German sense of humor.


The Fashion Police have put a stop to our game. With unruly men in tight lederhosen climbing on tables to deal with, you’d think they wouldn’t be so concerned with three inoffensive Canucks. Especially since there were dozens of people playing Skat all around us. Maybe it was because we were making up our own rules, and they involved the wagering of sausage morsels.


We were joined at the table by another group of sweaty men, this time from Croatia. I wanted to make conversation, but the only thing I really know about Croatia is that one of their members of parliament is also an Ultimate Fighter. I’d love to see something like that happen in the U.S. Senate. This topic ate up about 12 seconds, and then it was back to stony silence, punctuated with random muscle-flexing.


Drinking on the second day began with a great deal of fanfare, though Mayor Von Kegtapper was nowhere to be found. Once again, the featured beer was delicious, the tent was full of action, and I found myself wishing it would never end.


Beer two went down more easily than its predecessor. Meanwhile, the Croatians were still making noble attempts at conversation, and, as the only one of us who could even locate Croatia on a map, I was translating for my friends. From what I could tell, they were time-traveling bodyguards who also happened to hate Italians. Well, I may have been projecting a little, owing to the events of the previous day.


On my third beer, I noticed that there was a family sitting at the next table over. It’s nice how Oktoberfest can straddle the line between wholesome family fun and drunken debauchery. It’s even nicer when that line gets mashed into strudel; the son, a kid no older than 10, was enjoying a beer and there were a few empty steins in front of him too. I was horrified. Not at the morality of allowing a minor to drink, but that he appeared to be on pace with me. I vowed to either pull ahead or else call the Fashion Police.


More beer came, and the party started picking up. We ordered a mountain of food, which came served on a 6-foot plank. Aye, it was a beautiful plank-feedin’. All kinds of breads, meats and cheeses were artfully arranged, along with a shitload of radishes. I think they were meant as some kind of festive garnish, but we still shared them with the Croatians. It’s probably more than they got in the communist era.


There were a few bombshells walking around with sashes reading “Mamarazzi.” At first I thought this must be a German word meaning “show me your bratwurst,” but I eventually figured out it was a play on “paparazzi.” These unbelievable women were photographers. Fully aware it was just a way to fleece the public, I happily allowed myself to be snapped, along with Jason and Sylvia. I got a souvenir, and the chance to chat up a camera strumpet. Best 10 Euro I ever spent.


With my liver signaling an unconditional surrender, I set out to remind that organ just who was in charge. We said goodbye to our neighbors and set off to another tent. Everything was still packed, but it was possible to find seats without waiting too long. The band in this tent was playing more popular music. Which, for the Germans, equated to a 70’s medley. You have to be a special kind of wasted to enjoy polka arrangements of YMCA, and Copacabana.


We finally landed some tablemates who spoke English. Naturally, they came from China, and they were spending a semester in Munich learning German. This little UN reenactment nearly brought a tear to my eye, or maybe it was two days worth of smoke, not all of which was tobacco. Of course you were permitted to smoke in these overcrowded, flammable tents! It’s Oktoberfest!


Drunk, exhausted and sweating pure alcohol, we knew our time at Oktoberfest had drawn to a close. With a great deal of sadness I tried to take it all in, so the memory would last forever. One last pretzel, one last song, one last beer. I had experienced what was, arguably, Earth’s biggest party. And that’s when I realized English lacked a word to describe my feelings at the moment.

There were ups and downs, but the brain cells that managed to survive the great beer flood of ’07 will surely remember Oktoberfest fondly. And here’s looking forward to ’08! Ein Prosit!

Essential New Word of the Week:

nappetite [‘næpa tajt] n

When you’re a kid, enforced napping is an embarrassing reminder of your weaknesses. At least, that’s what my kindergarten teacher used to say. But now that I’m an adult, my views have changed. Naptime is happytime! In an ideal world, my workplace would provide a comfy couch in an anonymous corner for the drones to recharge. As it stands now, I have to hide under a pile of coats.

There’s a whole spectrum of nap intensity. From the low-end siesta all the way to a power schluff. Clearly, this burgeoning science is in desperate need of some terminology. Which brings us to “nappetite.” It’s a fairly straightforward term used to describe one’s increasing desire to put everything aside in favor of a quick sleep. And now, as this article represents the most effort I’ve put into anything for weeks, I’ve built up a strong nappetite. Time for a wee rest.