I walked in to Oktoberfest alone. I was armed with a cardigan, some cash and a solid conviction to mingle. Munich was the last stop on my solo trip to Germany and partying with strangers at Oktoberfest had been on my bucket list for a while.
It’s impossible to not feel intimidated when you first walk in to a beer tent alone. First, the tents in Oktoberfest are not really tents. They are massive halls with hundreds of tables and thousands of people. Second, you need a spot at a table before you can get served any beer. Which means you need to break in to a large group of very drunk people, all of whom look pretty happy in their current company and are at least three beers ahead of you.
So I went from tent to tent, and table to table and it wasn’t too long before I stumbled into a group of American soldiers, clad in lederhosen (leather breeches, part of a perfect Bavarian outfit), looking dapper AF. They were lapping up beers in the most Americanised of all beer-tents at Oktoberfest, where even the traditional Bavarian oompah band was stuck with a setlist that included endless repetitions of Billy Joel.
What is it with Americans these days?
He was all of 22 and as pretty as a boy that age could be. In my beer-goggled memory, he is a young Cillian Murphy with a southern American twang, minus the cheekbones. Before I knew it, I was pandering to the American just as unscrupulously as the oompah band on centrestage. Intellect or originality weren’t really on the menu, although Kashmir somehow did come up at one point. I was wearing my shortest denim shorts, red lips and some cheap plastic flowers in my hair, so subtlety wasn't what I was going for either. I did manage to get some intel about what these soldiers were doing in Germany that I cannot disclose (or remember), but tonight is not the night for espionage.
Tonight is the night I learn why any 22-year-old would vote for Donald Trump.
At some point, probably during a bench-top dance session, the 22-year old and I bonded over a shared love of something mundane (French fries?). The flirting (or my denim shorts) seemed to have worked. And thus began the rest of my night.
He was fun, delightfully uninhibited and extremely drunk (we both were). We soon left the beer tent and went wandering around, indulging in games and rides that only Germans could think are a good idea at a festival centred around over-consumption of alcohol. We went on roller-coasters, played darts and I bought balloons that looked like pretzels. We made loud, inappropriate Hitler jokes and silly boomerang videos. We bought into everything Oktoberfest had to offer. Like I said, originality wasn't what we were going for. He called me Miss India and I called him Forrest Gump.
The big revelation happened while we were sharing our last meal of the night (there were several). Among the many Americanisms we talked about that night, we didn’t really touch base on the then ongoing elections. The alcohol was starting to wear off and we were probably running out of things to say to each other. I brought it up, casually enough. What followed was a pointless, ridiculous conversation between two drunk people discussing one of the most pressing issues of our times.
For just one second, I fought through my ale-induced haze to ask him a simple question, and he fought through or succumbed to his, to answer it.
“Because, he’s a badass.”
Did I agree with it? No. Could I argue against it? No. Even in that self-important state of mind, we reached an understanding and decided not to argue.
Afterwards, we sat there quietly. Him slurping a milkshake. I forking my vegan currywurst. It was around 3am and I flashed my phone to indicate it was bedtime. I went back to my Airbnb, him back to wherever his top-secret barracks were.
Several mornings after, I decided to look up Mr. Gump, but I just couldn’t remember his name. On the day Trump won the election, I thought about the night we had spent together. I guess it wasn't so bad that we have to coexist in a world where millions of people actually think that Trump as president is a good idea. If my soldier friend is any indication, they are not all that bad. Silver linings, eh?
So, I once had a thing with an Trump voter in Germany. And I liked it. #SwipeRightToTravel