“You have a freak flag, you just don’t fly it.” — Luke Wilson’s character Ben in Family Stone
With the holiday season upon us, it feels fitting to start things off with a good quote from a nice, cockle-warming holiday movie. At that particular moment in Family Stone, Luke Wilson as Ben is offering advice to Sarah Jessica Parker, whose character Meredith is so tightly wound she doesn’t know how to be herself anymore. She’s forgotten that every so often, you gotta cut loose and unfurl your own personal banner of weirdness. Besides, as Ben says, “Keeping your lid screwed on so tight… it’s exhausting.”
One place where they’re certainly not afraid to let their freak flags fly — en masse — is in New Braunfels, Texas every November. Wurstfest is an event that begins with “The traditional biting of the sausage,” and culminates with hordes of people scarfing down bratwurst, drinking from frothy pitchers, listening to polka music, dancing the chicken dance, and decking themselves out in their finest Lederhosen.
I had the chance to bask in Wurstfest in all its glory this year, and it was a pretty creatively-energizing experience. It reminded me of the importance of¬† making time for pure silliness, polka music optional. To have some fun, maybe with spicy mustard on the side. And above all, to shut down the VOJ — that pesky Voice of Judgement that tells you that you’re doing it wrong. That whatever it is, it’s not a good idea. And that some might think you look quite foolish holding a 2-foot bratwurst on a stick while wearing uber-manly knee high stockings (I purposefully cut off this shot above the waist).
Honestly, in any endeavor, we all do some of our best work when we let our freak flags fly. For example, when tasked with coming up with a campaign to provide high school students with the facts on STDs, we let our odd streamers loose and conjured up an infinitely gruff-but-watchable, stretch pants-wearing pro wrestler as the very personification of STD himself. To help people quit smoking, we set free the Banner of the Freak and came up with the KwitKone. And, we just finished a project aimed at getting everyone waving the flag of fun in Jackson.
So, no matter what line of work you’re in, you can sometimes find yourself in a creative slump, or as The Kids In The Hall used to say, a rut deep enough to hang up posters. When that happens, don’t worry. Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and as they say at Wurstfest: Sprechen Sie Freak Flag! (Actually, that’s Speak of the Freak Flag, or something, but you get the point.)
Until next time, enjoy this story about a certain freakish misfit who, yes, saved Christmas: