Illustration by Lars Leetaru
Summer, and a young man’s mind turns to…the fact that he’s not young anymore. This pathetic fact was driven home for me at my most recent physical. Basically, my doctor said that unless something else smites me, I have about eight-to-10 fruitful years left before things start to go pear-shaped, quite literally. Until then, well, enjoy life. He didn’t say I was dying or anything. No, in fact, he said I look “great.” Which made me feel “good.”
While I appreciate his candor about my looming obsolescence, it does put a subtle damper on things. Try as I might to see the glass half full, I have this sneaking suspicion that we live in a glass half empty world, or one where that glass is, at the very least, structurally compromised and in constant danger of springing a leak. The Germans have a word for it: weltschmerz. Roughly translated it means sadness at the state of things. But, being German, they came up with a solution: beer. And then they came up with a more structurally sound glass to put that beer in: a stein.
And so I have my goal. If I can keep going long enough to hoist a stein at the Germania Society Oktoberfest, held each August in the golden waning days of summer, then I will take it as a sign. A positive sign. Like one of those giant neon-lit signs you see glowing in the dark distance when you’re driving on a highway at night. Except instead of saying “Gas Food Lodging” it says “Good News, You Neurotic Boob. You Have Something To Live For: Beer! Spit-Roasted Chicken! Oompah Bands! Lederhosen!” And I will go on.
To be honest, I could do without the lederhosen. But if that’s what it takes to keep enjoying life, who am I to judge? Thank God it’s festival season.
Originally published in the June 2014 issue.