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I was invited to a tailgate party a few weeks ago in the parking lot of Qualcomm Stadium. Although the choice of tailgate food wouldn't have been mine -- sushi -- they had everything else covered, including flat-screen TVs showing all the Sunday games and flatbed trucks with hot tubs. But the thought of fighting traffic before a Chargers game kept me from going. Earlier in the season, I went to a few football parties at people's homes. The first was at Chris's apartment in Mission Valley. It was for the Chargers-Raiders game, and Chris and his friends were all Chargers fans. I wouldn't be so lucky at the next party.

I thought one guy was secretly rooting for the Raiders. He got excited when Raider QB Kerry Collins completed a pass. It turns out he has him on his fantasy football team, as do I. He asked how I can root against the Raiders with Collins as my fantasy quarterback. I said, "I want the Chargers to win, 50 to 40, with Collins getting me 40 points."

Chris's coffee table was filled with snacks, and I took a handful of M&Ms. Someone noticed that I had a lot of red ones in my hand and mentioned how years ago they didn't make red ones because the dye was thought to be dangerous.

On the kitchen table were bowls of chips and dips. I met Chris's girlfriend's father -- a longtime Chargers fan -- sitting there. It was interesting talking with him about the old Chargers teams.

Chris prepared taquitos and turkey hot dogs. One guy thought turkey hot dogs sounded gross. I told him that the Hot Dog on a Stick franchise revealed that they had switched all their hot dogs to turkey and nobody noticed. A guy who reminded me of Jack Black said, "The cheese on these is still made from evil cows, though!"

Chris is Greek and poured us Greek wine, which had a sweet taste. There was also a lot of beer -- this was the second party I've been to where beer was given to people as they were leaving the party.

The Chargers were winning so everyone was in good spirits. But the usual debates came up: Instant replay? Is Marty a good coach? Another thing we couldn't come to a conclusion on was why Mike Anderson has his full name on the back of his jersey.

I looked around the room to see if everyone had a good view of the TV. I noticed one lady on the couch who didn't care. She was reading a women's magazine during the game. She occasionally pointed something out to her husband from the glossy pages.

One couple told me about their honeymoon in France. They saw rapper 50 Cent on a train. The woman told me his "people" picked her up and moved her out of the way as he was walking by. Her husband went into the next car to get a look at him, but 50 Cent was surrounded by his posse. The couple should've told 50 Cent they were on their honeymoon. When singer P.J. Harvey played at the Belly Up Tavern, one couple showed up straight from their wedding -- in tuxedo and wedding dress -- and got her autograph.

When the game had ended, I went to another football party in Chula Vista. I was told that they'd still be partying after the Chargers-Raiders game and then watching a night game on ESPN. I walked in and saw all silver and black jerseys. I introduced myself to the host, who was friendly, but a guy in a Raiders jersey commented on my Chargers cap. "The Chargers suck, man!" I laughed and said, "Well, they beat the Raiders by 13 points, so I guess the Raiders suck more." One person laughed, but the rest of the Raiders fans just looked at me. After a minute of uncomfortable silence, the guy continued, "Your team couldn't even beat Dallas, man." I didn't know what was more amusing, him saying "your team," as if I was a linebacker on the Chargers, or ending another sentence with "man." "The Raiders don't have a good record," I replied, "so it's weird for you to diss other teams. I'm a Chargers fan because I was born and raised here. Are you from Oakland?" He said, "National City, man. Are you gonna start talking shit about that next?" I then laughed and said, "The only one talking shit is you! I'm responding to your statements." He got in my face and asked, "Want to take this outside?" The host jumped in and told him to chill. I could smell the beer on the guy's breath as he said, "I'll knock your ass out."

He left a few minutes later carrying a beer. The others told me not to worry about him. One guy said, "Homeboy takes the games way too seriously. It's not like he lost money on it or anything. It's all good." Another person added, "Every time he drinks, it's the same thing. No more forties for him."

We all ended up talking football and getting along, and after a few hours I left. As I walked down the sidewalk, I saw the angry Raiders fan waiting for me as he sipped his beer. I didn't want to turn around and go back to the house, and I didn't want to stop walking and have him think I was scared (even though I was). I pulled my cell phone out and looked at it while I tried to decide what to do. I thought about dialing 911. The guy surprised me when he said, "Hey, it's cool, man. I was pissed at the Raiders, not you." I told him I wasn't a hardcore Charger fan. "That's good," he said, "because they suck." I thought we were going to get back into the same argument, so I changed the subject. "Kerry Collins is my fantasy quarterback, so I actually want the Raiders to do well." He said, "What? You have fantasies about a quarterback? I bet you wish you were bent in front of him hiking the ball."I laughed and drove off, hoping bullets wouldn't come flying through my rear window.

Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Josh Board.

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