Today and tomorrow, I have days off, even though October is pretty brutal on the workfront. A high school friend of mine who works as a branch manager for a small bank joined the Rotary International in order to get involved in community affairs and to drum up business from local businesses. He told me that a local Rotary branch was having an Oktoberfest fundraiser at the Captain Lawrence Brewery tonight. Being somewhat of a beer drinker, and having met the great guys who run the Captain Lawrence beer company, I decided that it would be a good thing to drink copious amounts of beer for a charitable cause. Did I mention that I was somewhat of a beer drinker?
The cover charge for the open bar/open buffet event was $30, so I knew that I would be making out like a bandit. I traveled up from Yonkers with a friend of mine and made arrangements to meet another compatriot at the brewery. About five minutes in, I recognized another attendee, a guy who was a poll worker at my jobsite on the last two election days. I reacquainted myself with him, and he told me that he was a board member of a group called Gift of Life, which offers children in the developing world treatment for heart disease. Currently, they transport children to the U.S. for surgery, but they are accumulating enough equipment to start running clinics in the countries in which they operate, with the hope that they will be able to train local medical students in cardiology. He introduced me to a fellow Yonkers resident who lives around the corner from the parents of my high school buddy who told me about the event in the first place (he was unable to attend due to a family obligation). This guy, who is retired, drives visiting patients to various medical appointments, and has pen pals from such places as Kosovo, Jamaica, and Trinidad. He told a funny story about how he showered my friend's father, an old school Italian gentleman who wears a suit even when shoveling snow, with a torrent of snow when he busted out the snow-blower last winter.
Throughout the course of the night, I kept running into people who I didn't know, but who had mutual acquaintances with me. Everybody there seemed to know somebody that I knew. After three hours, I had consumed enough beer to float a small naval vessel and ate enough wurst and sauerbraten mit Kartoffel Pfannkuchen to feed the Hessian mercenaries who fought in the Battle of White Plains. One topic of conversation was the disappearance of German restaurants in the region in the past thirty years... such storied places as Maxl's, Franzel's, and Ehrings simply vanished. The only German restaurants in the area are in Manhattan- Heidelberg, Zum Schneider, Lorelei. It's funny, because everybody I know likes German food, but it doesn't seem to be anyone's first choice of cuisine. A few years back, when I was dating a green-eyed Krakow charmer, I told her that there wasn't any material difference between a Polish guy and an Irish guy (I didn't add Germans to the mix, for obvious reasons)- you give them a potato, some pork, and some cabbage, and you wash it all down with copious amounts of beer to the accompaniment of accordion music, and they're happy). It's kind of odd that there's no places serving this sort of comfort food in this region, though a lot of bars are running German culinary specials throughout the month of October. I'm still crying because I will be working a double when Rory Dolan's is holding its Oktoberfest, with the Amish Outlaws taking their "Endless Rumspringa" schtick to Yonkers.