I went to a party that was going on two weeks before the Super Bowl. The conference championship games were being played to determine who would make it to the big dance. I walked in at the start of the second game and saw a pile of money on the counter. Before my sunglasses even came off, I asked how I could get into the pools. One guy said, "It's too late, buddy. We have a few different ones going, and one has all the squares filled up. The other we can't let you do, since the game already started."
I saw a couple carrying out a cooler and the guy said to me, "I remember you made fun of me at one of the Halloween parties you wrote about. You made a big issue about me spelling my name and mentioning that I wanted to be quoted in your story."
I said, "Well, do you have any quotes for this one?"
His wife said, "Don't say a fucking word, Russ!"
He picked up the cooler and walked out.
Paul Willemssen, who was throwing the party, said, "I think that's your quote right there."
Paul showed me where the Chinese food was, and I grabbed a big plate of beef broccoli. I asked him how much it cost to have the food catered. He said, "Only $150. Last year we had Mexican food, and that was more expensive."
A couple of guys were telling me I should write about Mike Berg. But when I looked for him, they said, "Oh, he left already. But write that he's a wedding singer. He hates that."
I found out he is engaged to KGB DJ Shelly Dunn. And when I asked about him singing at weddings, someone else said, "He is a mobile DJ, and we give him a hard time about that."
There was a couple sitting outside watching one of the games. Usually the back yard is filled with smokers, but only a few people had cigarettes. When one song came on during the game, a blonde woman said, "Oh, we saw Eddie Money last night at the Belly Up." Another person said, "That dude is still alive?" And yet another broke out singing, "I've got two tickets to paradise / Pack your bags, we'll leave tonight."
She said, "Somebody held up one of his albums and he said, 'That's an old photo of me. That was taken before my second rehab.' "
I met a guy who owned his own plumbing company. He was talking about firing somebody. "I didn't fire him Friday. I wanted his ass to show up on Monday at 6:00 a.m. I'll fire him then." A few people laughed. I asked him if it's hard firing employees. He said, "Well, with this guy, it will be. I really like him. He's a good kid. But I asked him to do this one job, and he didn't do it right. I got fed up and just said, 'Okay, put the piping in any way you want.' I gave him a few chances."
I met a guy named Wayne Bird, who had some great stories. There were times he was talking so fast, I had a hard time following him. The more he drank, the harder it got to understand. He seemed really into the games, so I asked if he ever bet on them. He said, "Oh yeah, I enjoy betting. I once bet $1500 on a Super Bowl with a friend from San Francisco. It's when the Chargers played." I said, "I hope he gave you a lot of points, because the 49ers were heavily favored in that."
He continued, "No. I was just so sure the Chargers would give them a good game, and he was being so arrogant about his team. I wanted to shut him up."
I met a woman who surprised me with how much she knew about football. Her name was Deidre, and she said, "My uncle was Jack Lambert, so we learned a lot about the sport."
I said, "That linebacker from the Steelers? The one without teeth?"
Another lady said, "That's a rude thing to say."
I had to explain that when I got Sports Illustrated as a kid, Lambert was once on the cover. He was smiling but looked scary with his two front teeth missing.
Deidre didn't mind me saying that. She said, "We used to watch all his games. He sent us all the jerseys. It was a lot of fun."
Her husband Scott Halsey came over. He is about 6'3" -- a foot taller than Deidre. They looked cute together. And I was informed he had a famous uncle also: His great-uncle was Admiral Halsey. I had heard the name in regard to World War II but didn't know much about him. (Why didn't I pay more attention in school?) Scott told me all about his great-uncle and how they called him "Bull" Halsey, because he was bullheaded and did things his own way. Some of the things he did cost lives, but he won his battles as a fleet commander. Scott told me there was a ship named after him, and I said, "Also a song."
I asked him what his uncle thought of Paul McCartney's song "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey." Scott said, "When the song came out he heard about it. He said he never actually heard it, though."
Scott is going to be stationed in Japan for three years. It made me think of the friends I had in elementary school who had parents stationed at Miramar. They would be in our school for a few years and then they'd have to move.
At one point during the game, Paul was handed $150. It was the second pot he had won in the betting pools. Someone said, "This is fixed!" Paul laughed and pulled out a cigar. I lit mine and then said, "With all that money, you should light a cigar with one of those bills." Paul surprised me by saying, "That's a good idea."