The Chicken Dance: a pathetic tale of melancholic self-pity

I’ve learned in recent years that if I want to do something, I can’t be afraid of doing it alone.  If I always waited around for people to join me, I’d still be waiting.  I can’t let the lameness of others keep me from doing what I want to do, when I want to do it.

After all, if I can’t stand my own company, maybe no one else can either.

That is why this past weekend, finding no one else interested, I decided to go to New Braunfels, Texas to enjoy Wurstfest by myself, because by golly, I wanted to.

Like most of my solitary excursions, it started out with me sitting parked in my car, thinking:  Am I really doing this?  Am I really driving to a fair by myself?  Yes.  Yes I am.  And you’ll have fun, Me.  You’ll have lots of fun.  Everyone else will be jealous of how much fun you’ll have.

And so I sped down I-35, preparing myself for loads of fun by blasting European folk music and old Texas country polkas for a full hour.

You see, there is something you have to understand about me: I secretly wish I existed within a European folk fantasy cliché.  Every day I’m not polkaing barefoot with a pigtailed, rosy-cheeked farm girl to the sounds of accordion and violin is a day I regret.  Sadly, I regret all of my life.  It has been wasted on reality.

But Wurstfest!  This is my chance!  This is the key to realizing my childhood dreams!  Even if it is just a farce!

(As it turns out, I have been taking dance lessons lately, among which dances include none other than my beloved polka!  Ah yes!  I had not even been aware that the chaos of my arbitrary life decisions had been preparing me for this one pivotal moment of kitschy German folk bliss!)

Pie of Lost Dreams

Alas, upon my arrival, I immediately bought beer and sausage (both because I was hungry, and also to drown whatever sorrows of loneliness were still left deep within my soul) and I headed over to the nearest live music tent with a Bavarian folk band ready to go on stage, appropriately clad in lederhosen and feathery hats.

The leader of the group addressed the crowd, and the ensemble (complete with trumpet, euphonium, tuba, accordion, violin, keyboard, and drums) picked up their instruments, and struck a rousing note.

And we’re off!

I listened for a while, happily taking in the scene of gaudy but lovable kitsch, feeling as if I had arrived at a small island of folkish bliss in the vast, torrential sea of techno night clubs,  ear-splitting college bars, and memories of old high school dances playing exclusively Top 40 hits where everyone would just grind to everything anyway.  It was pleasant, being in the Disney of music – a contrived but beloved world of joy made especially for me.

That’s when the band started playing the Chicken Dance.

I know the Chicken Dance!  Yes!

beak beak beak beak
flap flap flap flap
wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle
clap!  clap!  clap!  clap!

I don’t wanna be a chicken,
I don’t wanna be a duck,
So I wag my butt!
Quack!  Quack!  Quack!  Quack!

beak beak beak beak
flap flap flap flap
wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle
CLAP! CLAP! CLAP! CLAP!

I don’t wanna be a chicken,
I don’t wanna be a duck,
So I wag my butt!
QUACK!  QUACK!  QUACK!  QUACK!

…and then the musical bridge: when everyone in the whole damn hall links arms with whoever they’re with and begins joyously turning around in circles.  And there I was, a party of one.  Standing there.  Alone, with no one to link arms with.  Watching everyone else have a good time.  For eight whole bars.

I’m the only schmuck in the whole state of Texas who would go to an Oktoberfest celebration by himself.

The bridge ended.  I tried to get back into it.

beak beak beak beak
flap flap flap flap
wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle
CLAP! CLAP! CLAP! CLAP!

I don’t wanna be a chicken,
I don’t wanna be a duck…

…never mind.  I’ll go do something else.

Happiness over Time

Recoup.  After some beer therapy and a plate of deep-fried sauerkraut balls, I headed over to the main dance hall where another band was playing.  The dance floor was more expansive, and I thought that perhaps, just maybe I could find some other party of one with whom I could connect and salvage the excursion.

I listened to the band for a while and watched people dance.  The band played mostly a variety of waltzes and polkas, and I found it astonishing that the people dancing – people of all ages who appeared to be from all walks of life – old men, young boys, ladies, girls, some in lederhosen, some in cowboy boots – they all seemed to know how to dance, as if the waltz and the polka were in their blood, drunk from their mothers’ milk.  There wasn’t a fool on the floor.

Is this something Texans do?  Do Texans just know how to dance?

For years, I’ve embraced Texas culture.  I eat brisket.  I drink Shiner.  I say y’all non-ironically.  I’ve swum in the Colorado and Frio Rivers, summited Guadalupe Peak, and camped in Big Bend.  I even own a cowboy hat and learned how to Country Two-Step.  And yet, never before have I felt so much like an outsider – a Californian looking in at culture embedded from birth, a culture where even young boys can lead old women in a cross-step, two-step, or even polka.

I looked around: families, men with their ladies, women with their babies, husbands, wives, fathers, daughters, mothers, sons…

That’s when the band started playing the Chicken Dance.  I left hastily.

Alas, I shouldn’t paint too gloomy of a picture.  Truth be told, I was having a good time.  I enjoyed the beer and the food, the setting, and especially the music.  It’s just that, well, the Chicken Dance had been stuck in my head the entire time.  Every time my head played through to the bridge, I was reminded that I am but an outsider – a lone figure looking in from the outside, forlorn, without a companion for my lonely arm’s hook.

Thus, I made my way to yet another tent with a live band to see if they could perhaps offer me a rousing set of folk tunes that could chase the Chicken Dance out of my head once and for all.  But no.  It was the first song they played.

The crowd went wild.

So I got another beer and sat on the concrete embankment of the Comal River, my feet dangling over the water.  I watched some kid nearby idly chucking rocks into it, disrupting the glassy surface.  Couples and families among me were enjoying a brief pastoral respite while the folk tunes played in the foggy distance behind us (including the Chicken Dance).  I watched the squirrels frolic around an oak tree across the river.  Two ducks drifted aimlessly with the weak current. They drifted together without so much as a worry in the world.

I don’t wanna be a chicken, I don’t wanna be a duck…

That’s not true.  I totally want to be a duck.

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About Doctor Quack

Just another bonehead with an internet connection.
This entry was posted in Autobiography and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Chicken Dance: a pathetic tale of melancholic self-pity

  1. Everyone should be a duck! What is wrong with people? First they don’t want to go, and then, when you do finally meet people who want to go (ie at the thing) they won’t link arms with you?

    The world has gone wrong.

  2. Chickens probably have more fun though.

  3. Sean Gasser says:

    Always good to find a good use of “Kitsch.”

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