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Tiffany was turning 30 and hosting a party in the clubhouse of her Mission Valley apartment complex. I got there a few minutes after 7 p.m. as she was setting up, so I shot pool with a friend I brought with me. I overheard someone say that it's $100 to rent the clubhouse if you are a resident.A guy who looked like Bill Murray was watching Speed Racer cartoons on a big-screen TV. He was a criminal lawyer named Blake, and he was with a woman younger than himself. Blake said they met when he sang the '70s pop hit "Brandy" in a karaoke bar. "We talked, and she moved in one week later." She laughed and denied it, but she later admitted that Blake's story was close to the truth.

Blake told me he reads the Reader during his downtime in court. He asked me, "Are you that Josh Beard guy?"

He and I talked about music. He told me he was taking drum lessons and that his teacher was here. As I recall, it was Indian drumming.

Another guy I talked to at Tiffany's party arranged music for silent films and played with the San Diego Symphony. He told me about playing oboe at the Museum of Contemporary Art and opening for Sue Palmer. He had a leopard print suit on and told me, "I keep the microfiber suit in the car. It never wrinkles and is great for parties."

When I asked him about scoring silent films, he told an interesting story about using coconut shells for sound effects.

Tiffany reminded me of a young Sally Field. She was concerned about the event and said, "A lot of these friends of mine are meeting for the first time." She's a writer and wondered what I'd write about her party, but she didn't want to influence what was written.

Tiffany has a boyfriend in India, and I asked her if it was an arranged relationship. She said, "No. Everyone is always asking me that." She told me a romantic story of how she met him when she traveled with her friend (his brother) to India.

The brother helped prepare this party, which explains why all the food was Indian. A few people joked about how we should try the "salty balls." One thing I tried looked like a meatball but tasted like dirt.

I noticed the Speed Racer cartoons had been changed to Bollywood movies. They had the volume up so loud that I couldn't hear the people I was talking to. The Indian songs weren't as bad when they brought them into another room, where the lights were turned low and everyone danced. The Indian women were teaching the Caucasians how to do an Afghan dance. One of them didn't want to tell me her name but did. However, when I spoke with her later in the evening, she used a different name.

After trying the food and not liking any of it, I decided to grab a Coke from the kitchen, and I saw a guy cut himself on an ice scooper. I noticed the woman who didn't want to tell me her name went outside for a cigarette. She eyed me suspiciously through the window.

I was getting ready to head to another party when Tiffany's aunt arrived. The aunt looked only a few years older than Tiffany. She's a first-grade teacher taking classes to become an architect. She told several stories about things that her students have said over the years. I couldn't imagine changing careers later in life, trying to work and go to school at the same time.

I hate meeting someone interesting as I'm ready to leave. But I had another party to attend.

* * * The party in National City was thrown by a Filipino guy in his early 20s. He had food there that I liked and a DJ playing a mix of dance tunes and songs in Tagalog. In the back yard, he had a bar serving fruity drinks. I ordered a margarita. I talked with a guy named Nick who asked me why I showed up at 11 p.m. I told him about the other party I went to. When I mentioned Tiffany having a boyfriend in India, he said, "My girlfriend is in the Philippines." He told me that she was a cousin of the guy throwing this party and that he agreed to marry her so she could live in this country. After they made this arrangement, the couple fell in love. I told him that I would be wary of the situation, but he was convinced it was true love. Someone overheard this and said, "Yeah, we'll see. She'll probably try to bring her whole family over." Another person explained how that isn't possible, and a big argument started as to how it is possible. The more I talked to Nick, the more complicated his circumstances seemed. He had been waiting a year for her to come out here, and they still had a lot of hoops to jump through.

Two guys showed up who looked like they were in a gang. An older lady yelled at them and, like the music, the voices went from English to Tagalog. I heard her say, "If there are any problems, I will not hesitate to call the police."

The guys didn't cause any problems, but they did go to the side of the house to smoke joints. The lady that warned them did not see that.

There were several girls in half-shirts, exposing tattoos on their backs. An older guy said to me, "If my daughter did that, I would kill her. She is only 13, but she already talks about how much she wants ink and body piercings. I blame it on those rap bands she listens to."

I said, "It's funny, because people used to blame Elvis for things the youth did in the '50s. And in the '60s, they blamed the Beatles for their teenagers smoking pot. If a teenager can be influenced by the music they listen to...well, there are bigger problems in the parenting going on."

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