Oktoberfest solo is interesting. People watching is almost shamefully good when the city is drunk by noon.

October 12th, 2013, 1pm

It was 21.7°C. The breeze was gentle.

“Oh, my…I’m so sorry. I really wish there was some way for you to find someone to go with you. It’s such a shame!”

This is usually the response you get when you mention to anyone that you’ll be flying solo to a social event. Awkwardness, confusion, regret, curiosity, horror. It’s the emotional equivalent of getting handed a shitty fruitcake for Christmas. You don’t know quite what to do with it, but you give an awkward smile back and assure them it’ll be fine, just fine.

I’ve been single with brief spurts of bad decision-making for going on 2 years, but solo concerts, movies, and dining aren’t new for me. There’s something extremely liberating about it, something pure about not having someone else’s perception of the experience to tint yours. It opens you up to the vast possibilities going on in the crowd around you, the hidden narratives beneath the bajillion gallons of beer flowing out of the trucks and down the fronts of lederhosen.

For instance, the two used pregnancy tests in the first Port-O-John I used, boxes and sticks shoved down into the reservoir.

“Huh,” I said, bashing the door aside, stumbling a little in the sand moat in front of it.

I felt pole-axed. It was like my brain was choking on that image, unable to get it down for digestion. Aside from being one of the stranger thing/place combinations I’ve peed on, there was a strong sense of displacement in the objects. I couldn’t file it or tuck it away, so my alcohol-soaked brain kept chewing on it. And chewing on it.

It seemed like no amount of fried pretzels and brown ale were going to drown it out. So, I eventually did what only someone who was a) drunk and b) alone could do - I decided to tell everyone I met about what I saw until it made sense.

I repeated it to everyone from the half-naked guy with weed glasses in the currywurst line all the way down to the beautiful woman in the Audi booth handing out water. I always asked what they thought after I was done. The image must have been pretty bizarre to them; I didn’t get one person asking what the fuck I was doing getting hung up on pee-sticks dropped in a Tupperware outhouse.

Everyone had their theories. The most popular was a person not really sure how the test worked, and decided to use one after having sex in the same toilet. Another revolved around having taken them somewhere else, then threw them into the sewage symbolically before diving into a pool of German beer.

An older woman in a chicken hat gave me what I thought was the best, most likely answer - someone just wanted to make sure they could start drinking before they tucked into the first round. Sure, there’s logistical holes in it, but it paints a resigned picture of the longest two minutes someone’s ever spent in a Port-O-John, followed by an even longer two minutes to validate the first one. Tons of hitched breath, if not for the smell, then for the nail-biting anxiety of instant life changes coming down to pluses and minuses.

I don’t know if she ever got to drink that day. The tests were face-down in the sludge and long-corrupted by everyone else.

I’d like to think that she did. That she was one of the dozens of lovely women in tiny clothes slinging me in loops during the “Beer Barrel Polka.” Or perhaps the woman next to me who yelled “prost!” so loud and hard that her voice shattered during a toast. The best part of not knowing for sure is that you get the luxury of choosing your ending.

Sanna, Shu, Emanuel and Cassie said thanks.

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Allan Lazenby

Wrencher of bicycles, petter of dogs. Active cyclist and a cycling activist. I unabashedly put the worst of me into words.

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