I missed the memo about Oktoberfest.

My first name is Jamie, the feminine of James, as in King James, the old dead white guy.  My maiden name is Walker, like the shortbread. Short, white bread, that is.  So yeah, I’m ridiculously caucasian and I’ve always been a little embarrassed about that.  I once dated a very inappropriate Italian guy, whose shortcomings in character I forgave because I had always daydreamed about marrying someone with a last name that ended with a vowel.  I thought it would make me a more interesting person.

But turns out that the love of my life is named Ryan Ball.  Aw, c’mon!  Not only did I trade one boring Anglo name for another, I get one full of crazy pun potential.  Fine.  Fantastic.  “Jamie Benevento” would have been a little more colorful, but after all these years, I find that “Jamieball” suits me pretty well.  (And that’s no typo…people tend call me “Jamieball” like it’s all one word, but that’s another memo.)

So yeah, I’m white. And even with all of the benefits society affords me as a consequence, I’ve always felt like a woman without a color, and thus without much culture.  Just plain vanilla.  That was, until,  I attended my first Oktoberfest celebration. 

I polka’d . I yodelled.  I drank beer and downed shots of Jagermeister. There were seriously joyous people in laderhosen and drindl who were unapologetically corny and unironic in their enjoyment of all the festivities.  I loved it.  It was the first time I’d ever gone to a party and not felt tragically unhip.  I feel I have reasonably good social graces, but I am not and never have been particularly cool.   So it was so awesome to be around a whole gaggle of people who were likewise cool-challenged, but nonetheless, having ridiculous amounts of fun. 

I’m not sure I can parlay Oktoberfest into a cultural identity (at least not without starting to sound like a skinhead), but at least I’ve got an inkling of what it feels like to have a distinct heritage, and I suppose it kinda feels like a good buzz. 

So far I’ve only been to Oktoberfest events here in the States, and it’s on my Bucket List to get to Munich one year.  I think it’s a testament to the fact that Oktoberfest people really are my people that when watching the following video, I was laughing with them rather than at them (mostly). 


Roll out the barrel and memo received.

2 thoughts on “Oktoberfest

  1. sheila clapkin October 24, 2011 / 11:27 am

    Dear Vanilla,
    Vanilla and white is the basis of everything you add!
    WE are traveling now, hope you are receiving my blogs @
    I always enjoy reading your blog and remember our meeting on the plane to the bay area. Let us keep up the good work and the positive thinking.

    • Jamie Walker Ball October 24, 2011 / 4:19 pm

      Thanks, Sheila! Hope you are having fun on your latest trip. If you get to Munich, have a beer (or four) for me!

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