I'm having an excessively tough time writing this because of the amount of alcohol that went into my winning Miss Oktoberfest. Some woman win through beauty and talent. I won due to a goofy hat and a public spanking.
To begin at the beginning...
It all started with a simple thought: a night of good food, richly crafted environment, and maybe a discreet beer sampler at one of Jackson Hole's finest dinning establishments, Stiegler's. I had been lucky enough to be squeezed into the exclusive Oktoberfest event and was ready to be treated to one of the most perfect and opulent dining experiences of my life. My vision of grandeur was skewed when I learned 8 hours before the dinner that it was actually a costume party. The concept of this Oktoberfest being a costume party immediately seemed strange because why would anyone want to dilute the beautiful experience of eating a perfectly prepared veal wellington with the hilarious humiliation of eating it dressed as a pumpkin? Costume parties are an excuse to get blackout drunk with the excuse of needing the extra alcohol to maintain your Hunter S. Thompson impression, not the time to exercise your taste buds. I heard that it was a costume party from one of the restaurant's employees, so I thought, well, it must be true.
My partner in crime, Shaun, loved that it was a costume party and quickly decided to go as a peppermint. His costume would consist of red tighty whities, red tube socks, a red and white striped shirt, and a red hat. This really seemed like a bad idea, but since we were going to this since it was his birthday, I felt like my hands were tied. I agreed to wear my new purple skirt and go as a grape lozenge.
Later that day, as I shopped for a striped shirt and a purple leotard, Shaun called to say that the peppermint thing was going to be too much. We should dress as Austrians or Germans or something. Now, I love costumes. I love costumes so much that I wore one almost every day in college. One day I would be studious girl, the next girl who loves movies from the 70's, the next girl who loves '40s glamour. These days, I am pretty committed to being the girl who wears jeans and a cute top, but when the opportunity for a costume comes up, I like to nail the outfit. I ended up in fuzzy boots, jeans, a turtleneck, suspenders, a totally legit sweater from the thrift store that was made in Norway, and a very cute Austrian cap that a friend of mine happens to own. I was the real deal. Shaun hated all of the goofy options I had gotten him and ended up in a sweater, corduroys, and a hunting cap. He looked like a normal person who doesn't dress well, and I looked like a freak who loves caps and suspenders. What I felt like, though, was a badass who could easily blend into any culture. My costume was perfect.
Unfortunately, it wasn't a costume party. When I walked in the door, the place was almost empty, but the 4 other women there were in heels, nice jeans, and a cute spangly top. Aka: dressed for modern life, not 1976 Austria. As more people walked in, it became increasingly clear that the only other costumes I was going to see where the traditional lederhosen and dirndl that the waitstaff wore. I introduced myself to everyone as "Hi, I'm jessicatheytoldmethiswasacostumeparty." People were really supportive of the outfit and I started to have fun with the whole thing. That or I was just drinking more.
When I introduced myself the the manager, he informed me that there was actually a dance/costume contest. Oh, it was on. I found two male guests who had worn their own lederhosen, the only two other people in costume. One was a man in his thirties with unwashed hair, piercings, and a charming German/ New Jersey accent. The other was a spitfire in his seventies. Both men took very well to me telling them that they might as well not even compete because I was going to school them in the competition. Neither knew that there was a competition, but after enough berating, rose to the challenge, the old man asking, "ok, so when are you going to change into your costume." and the younger man doing taunting German dances in my general direction.
As I was passing by the live band, the 72-year-old saxophone player stopped me and started feeling the arm of my sweater. He asked me with a heavy accent, "What type of wool is this?"
"Oh! I don't know! I just got it today. Here, look at the tag."
As I unhooked my sweater and arched my back forward to get to the tag, the accordion player and guitarist came to look too. As the saxophonist felt my sweater more and more fully, he said, "I can tell that this is camel hair. Yes, definitely. I know for sure."
"Really? Oh, wow. It says it's made in Norway."
"Yes, I recognize it by the two humps in it." He said, looking at my breasts.
For the rest of the night I was referred to as camel hair.
The rest was right place, right time, right goofy hat. I happened to be standing near the dance floor, watching couples take there turn, when the saxophone player stepped onto the dance floor and asked for a dance partner. No one volunteered, and when he turned around and saw me behind him he said, "Camel hair!" and extended arm as an invitation to dance. We started by hopping, stomping and doing that odd dance where you lift your ankle in and out and slap it. We then moved onto a dance where you pretend to hit each other in the head and clap. Germans are so weird. The whole restaurant was clapping along, beer mugs in the air, laughing with me as I tried to figure out what the hell I was supposed to do. I thought we were about to take a bow, when my frisky dance partner said one phrase I understood.
As I made eye contact with a beautiful and classy woman in her 60's, "I don't think so, Mister."
"Put your hands on the ground."
I looked questioningly at the audience. Every one was nodding for me to do it and sloshing their glasses in time with the music. I bent over. The Austrian grabbed my legs wheelbarrow style, and wrapped them around his waist. He told me to hang on, and proceeded to smack my bottom rhythmically. My cap fell off, but otherwise, the whole thing was pretty good. I was let up, the crowd cheered, I was feeling good, when the man said, "Next time, we do the whole dance."
"I want to do it now."
"Ok, then you must hold on again with your legs, but now you must reach through and smack my bottom at the same time I smack yours."
And I did. I won a apron with a hot cartoon body of an Austrian barmaid who accidentally forgot her shirt but is just covered by her suspenders, a free dinner for two, and the incredible honor of being 2009 Miss Oktoberfest.
Sometimes, just when you feel like the biggest loser of all, you turn out to be the winner.