Exceptional Circumstances (Into the Not-Normal) [or Hell-Au]

Every year in Germany (and in other parts of the world), Carnival is celebrated. In Germany it’s called either Fasching or Fastnacht or Karneval and to me this always seemed like a typical German tradition. It is a strange time of the year, as for 5-6 days people go a little crazy. I hate it. In recent years I noticed more and more that I’m not alone in this, but in general people seem to be into it and in more than one instance my dislike provoked people to ask if I don’t like “fun.” Ha. Here’s what I don’t like about Fasching.

First of all, for most people it is an excuse for excessive drinking. For most people celebrating only works with alcohol and during those days it seems to be a prerequisite. And if you’ve ever been to a city where hundreds of drunken people stumble through the streets while you’re sober, it’s hard to see the fun in it. Not to forget that alcohol of course serves as a sort of escapism for many because how better to forget your boring daily life than by drinking it prettier. No, I’m not a fan of alcohol anyway, but the excessiveness during this time of the year goes beyond my personal dislike. And I really think it’s more because there is no real reason for it, other than attempting to shut off your brain.

Second, there is the idea of dressing up in a costume. I think I understand this part the most or at least I can see the fun in it. But when I see most people in costumes, I get depressed. Instead of trying to slip into another role, most just go for the most superficial jokes and clichés. A man dressed as a woman with big breasts? Ha ha. Let’s not even start with stereotypes in general as there seems to be a free-for-all there. Or the sex joke costumes. Or…

Third, and this ties in to the costuming, is what I hate most about carnival. It’s the notion that this is the one time of the year where people are allowed to be crazy and funny. Finally, we can act the way we really feel. Not surprising then that so many people fall into extremes if they vent only once a year from all the pressure of pretending. This notion emphasizes that during the rest of the year, you cannot act this way at all. Over this long weekend you’re allowed to delve into the not-normal. Which increases the feeling of despair and mania that surrounds so many of these events. You’re allowed to go all the way now. You’re allowed to be someone else, no matter who as long as it’s not you. What an incredibly depressing way to celebrate and have fun.

I know, you want to call me a killjoy now, you're about to say "Come on, a little fun hasn't hurt anyone." I know, I know, I've heard it before. Go ahead, don't let me stop you. But please accept my non-participation. When it comes to being forcefully crazy, I’d rather be normal and boring for a change.