I was invited to a July 3rd party at Baleen, a restaurant at Paradise Point. There was a fireworks display over the bay as we dined on the patio.Chris, a movie producer, came down from Los Angeles. He produced Boondock Saints, which happens to be my friend's favorite film. Due to the movie's violence, and out of respect for the victims of 9/11, the studio never released it. "It became the biggest-selling movie that went straight to video. It made $40 million," Chris said. He promised to send me a copy.
The guitarist playing outside knew a few people in our party. He was an older Latino named Julio. We talked about our favorite guitarists, from Carlos Santana to Django Reinhardt. Julio told me he went to New York in his early 20s and saw Miles Davis play in a basement. He said it was amazing, despite the crappy drinks that were served.
When Julio left, I was told that Lyndon Johnson, on a trip to Mexico, heard him play his guitar and invited him to perform at the White House. President Johnson was able to get Julio, a boy, a green card.
We waited at the bar until our table was ready. The bartender suggested I try a mojito, and I made the mistake of trusting him. The drink had mint leaves in it, and it tasted like grass from a blender.
At our table, a guy who looked like John Cusack (he said he hears that often) was sitting across from me. He was next to a heat lamp, which he said was burning his neck. When the fireworks started he had to turn around to watch and ended up with a sore neck. I'm not sure why he didn't turn his chair around.
After the fireworks a guy asked, "What did you think of the fire?" We didn't know what he was talking about, but apparently a barrel caught fire on the barge that was shooting off the fireworks. They kicked the burning barrel into the bay.
I was invited to a few 4th of July parties, but the first call I got was for a party in Alpine, and I didn't want to rush back to San Diego for the other ones. I stayed there the entire night. When Megan called to invite me, she said, "I met you at a party a year and a half ago. Remember that party at the hotel, where everyone was playing volleyball in the rooms and the cops came?"
I remembered a girl was passed out, and she was the volleyball net. I said, "Were you the net?" She laughed and said, "No. I was the one talking to the police."
The directions were wild. When I got off on Willow Road, I was told to make a U-turn, go past a ranch called "Lazy A," and take the next dirt road, follow that around to a road that was all gravel, and then I'd see the house. I was driving past horses, a rabbit that ran in front of my car, and squirrels. The house was easy to spot. It had several flags; red, white, and blue banners; and lots of cars.
Robert was throwing this party. I asked him if we'd see the fireworks from Viejas Casino. He said, "Most of them. The mountains block some. We tell the people with kids that they are better off driving there and seeing them."
Robert and his wife Laura live next door to her parents. He told me it's not a problem, though, since they are nice in-laws. He had shelves displaying autographed baseballs and football helmets. When I saw his Pete Rose baseball, I asked him if he thought Rose should be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame. (Rose was banned from the Hall of Fame for betting on baseball.) Robert said yes. When I talked later to an older guy named Tom (who looked like Soupy Sales), he said he thought Rose got what he deserved. Tom's dad had the opportunity to play pro ball, but he was offered a salary of only $1,500, which wasn't enough to support his family. After discussing sports and movies, Tom and I ended up arguing about politics. He's a Republican and I'm a Democrat. It was fun debating him.
Megan finally showed up at the party, but her boyfriend wasn't with her. His dad, a fire chief, was supervising one of the fireworks displays.
Robert was cooking chicken, sausage, and hamburgers on the grill. I went to get some food inside and almost walked into the screen door with my plate of food. Throughout the night, I saw three people who did walk into it.
There were trees all around. I asked Robert if his two basset hounds run into rattlesnakes. He said, "We see two or three rattlers each year. We had a baby one on the patio recently. My father-in-law killed it, skinned it, and put the skin on his hat. I'm more worried about our dogs meeting up with coyotes."
He told me he was in San Francisco when the big fires were raging here a few years back. The fires did come close to his home.
There was a cooler with Jell-O shots next to a snow-cone machine, and someone suggested putting alcohol in the snow cones. But there were kids eating the cones, so that idea was scrapped. One girl said, "I don't know if I should have these Jell-O shots. I'm going to pick up my boyfriend and shouldn't have the alcohol." I said, "What do you tell a cop if he asks how much you've had to drink? You can honestly say, 'Nothing,' since you were eating it, not drinking." Then I found out something odd. The girls at the party all said they swallow the Jell-O without chewing it. One said, "It's such a small amount, why chew it?"
I had Robert's wife get me a baseball. I signed Pete Rose's signature, like the one from his shelf. I was throwing it around with a girl named Amanda, hoping he would see this. He didn't seem to pay attention as he was bringing food back and forth and greeting some of his coworkers from the Navy. I said, "Amanda, where did you get this ball?" He glanced over and I showed him the signature. His eyes got wide as he grabbed it. After a few seconds, he laughed. He could tell the signature was fake and said, "Nice try."