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I was invited to a midweek luncheon for realtors in Chula Vista. The woman who invited me, Lu Pizarro, insisted I wear cowboy attire, as it was a Western-themed party. I threw on a Western-style shirt and some dusty cowboy boots I've had in my closet for years.I thought it might be difficult to find Pizarro's office, but the stacks of hay in front of her building made it easy.

I asked Pizarro why half the crowd was in business suits, and she told me they were coming from work and didn't have time to change.

I told her she looked more like Crocodile Dundee than a cowgirl. She told me that her hat was from Australia.

Her CEO, Mark Marchand, dressed the part.

They had a contest for the best dressed, and there were ten entrants.

I got a Coke and sat down, but Pizarro grabbed my arm and said, "Go get food! Go now! If you wait, it will be all gone. What is the point of you going to parties if you don't get the free food?" She had a point. I waited until the line got shorter. I feel awkward standing in a line for 15 minutes waiting for coleslaw or potato salad. As one woman next to me in line put it, "You don't often get free food. And if you don't get to these things early, it's all gone. You know how many times I've worked at a place where donuts are brought in, and you go make a cup of coffee and turn back around and there're only crumbs? Or maybe a half-eaten donut that someone didn't like." I thought of Milton in Office Space, who complained about not getting a piece of cake at an office birthday party.

Two musicians performed at the party. They played several Eagles tunes, as well as Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues." I enjoyed their version of the Beatles' "One After 909," which they played rockabilly.

I chatted with the musicians when they took a break to eat. It turned out they are in the band 21 Grams, who I've seen a few times at clubs.

The food was catered from the Barbecue Pit. There were hot dogs, barbecue beef, sausages, ham, baked beans, and potato salad. I grabbed a hot dog and watched while a lady who's a square-dance instructor from In Cahoots tried to convince people to dance. The crowd was reluctant at first. When Pizarro grabbed my arm, I had to tell her of my strict "No white boys on the dance floor" policy. Enough people were finally badgered, and the dance lessons began. It was fun watching coworkers heckling the ones who had the guts to get up there. I overheard one woman at a table say, "There are more people over by the pies than on the dance floor." I thought -- pie!? I didn't see any pie in the conference room that had all the food. My head did a Linda Blair 360 in search of the pies. I spotted two dessert tables. I grabbed a small plate and headed over there. (Note to self: next time, use a big plate for desserts, not the small plates they have in that area.)

Pizarro and her crew did an impressive job of decorating. There were haystacks in each corner. All the tables had red-and-white-checkered tablecloths. Each table had a hat filled with candy as a centerpiece. They had a drawing for those, but Pizarro handed me one as I was leaving. I almost got into a car accident on the 805 trying to pry a candy bar from the stick it was attached to in the hat. I wondered what it would look like to the paramedics if the air bag deployed and pushed this candy-filled cowboy hat through my face.

When the line dancing ended, a woman named Sue wanted to read the lyrics to the country song "God Bless the U.S.A." She started by saying "I won't sing..." and Marchand burst into applause.

One guy had a large hat. I heard someone compliment him on it, so I asked him how many people had complimented his hat. "About five."

I asked another guy why he wasn't dressed up, and he said, "I was just with a client. That would've been weird, going to see someone about property, and I have a 10-gallon hat and boots."

I was watching all these people interact with each other. They all seemed to get along well, but it was a party. People are usually in good spirits at things like this.

I noticed that people don't like having their picture when they've eaten barbecue sauce, paranoid that it might be on their face or clothing. When the lady with the camera came by, they'd wipe their faces.

A tall guy in a leather blazer, who looked natural in Western wear, was telling his friend, "I learned something important today. You shouldn't answer your cell phone when you've been eating barbecue."

Pizarro told me that the Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors tries to have themed luncheons like this every few months. They have a Polynesian one coming up. She said, "We've had a '50s one. We've done these where you had to dress up like a celebrity." I said, "I bet you had a lot of Marilyn Monroes." She responded, "Actually, we did. Sometimes, though, a person was a celebrity who we didn't recognize." I thought how embarrassing it would be to say "Hey, Fonzie," to some guy who was trying to look like James Dean.

I was getting ready to leave and Pizarro said she'd invite me to the Polynesian event. I wondered if there would be an instructor teaching Polynesian dances. Or would the guys in 21 Grams come back with a set of Don Ho songs on Ukulele?

I wanted to send Pizarro an e-mail to thank her for the hat filled with candy, but I forget to save her e-mail address. I forgot about the candy and left it in my car. It smelled like Snickers for a week!

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

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