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A party I went to in Clairemont had trouble written all over it. The host had a live band in a residential area, and he took down the fence separating his house from his neighbor's to make one big back yard with two pools. The only trouble came from an 80-year-old lady who lived down the street. I was parking in front of her house when I heard that "Where's the beef?!" voice yelling at me. "Excuse me?" I said.

"How long is your car gonna be there?"

"I don't know," I replied, "probably a few hours. Why?"

She yelled, "My husband will be coming home in an hour, and he won't have a place to park!" I looked at her driveway and told her they had enough space for two cars. She went into an explanation about how he's handicapped, but as much sympathy as I have for the handicapped, I have no sympathy for grouchy old people. Or neighbors who think that nobody should park in front of their house. I told her I'd try to move it in an hour.

I saw balloons on a fence and Porta Potties on the driveway. A sign said that women could use the bathrooms inside, but men had to use these. As a guy was walking toward them, I asked what he thought of that. "Dude, I've seen what guys can do to a bathroom. I think this rule makes perfect sense. And besides, there was a huge line of women waiting to go inside."

They had three Slushee machines, which were filled with colored ice and alcohol. There was a table next to the machines that had bottles of wine and other spirits. One guy noticed me looking at them and said, "You never drive away from one of these parties." I saw the guy that owned the machine filling it up. He told me he pours two bottles in each one. I said, "Women seem to like this machine. I think they like their alcohol to be fruity flavored." He smiled and said, "That's why I paid $1200 for this thing."

I ran into Rick, who was turning 50 and throwing this party. He told me he has a few parties a year. The sky was cloudy, and he worried it might rain. It did drizzle. Rick hired the band Riot House to play, and they were in the process of setting up as I walked in.

I talked to a few guys who told me that Hooters was catering this party. They didn't know if that meant their food or if it included the girls in orange shorts. We were surprised to see the women in the shorts show up 20 minutes later.

I asked one of the Hooters girls if it costs more to have the girls show up and not just some guy with a Hooters shirt and 50 chicken wings. She laughed and said, "Yeah, it costs more. I'm not sure of the price, though." They served hamburgers, wings, and chocolate chip cookies. A girl named Nadia told me that when she was going to SDSU, she got a job at Hooters. She said, "I don't have a big chest, so they gave me these shorts my second day. They were short shorts. They told me I needed to show off my assets. I quit."

Rick told me he had clients at this party and several coworkers and friends. When I met his crew from Carlsbad, I thought, They look like trouble. One woman told me, "Yeah, that guy in the mohawk, he's my boss." They were all nice guys.

The band started playing. Their set included the usual classic rock songs you hear in a bar. "Roadhouse Blues," by the Doors, a Springsteen tune. They surprised me when they played a Weezer song and "Darling Nikki" by Prince.

I met Rick's brother-in-law who had Down syndrome. He smiled and shook my hand. He never stopped dancing or drumming along as the band played. Several times he went up to his sister and gave her a hug. He had a smile on his face throughout the party.

There was an oversized card on a table with "50" on it, and everyone was writing birthday messages to Rick. Someone wrote, "Hopefully your golf score will reflect your age soon." Rick's wife was wearing beads that said "50," and a guy asked her, "Did he make you show your tits to get those beads?" As she laughed, another woman said, "You're too far away from 50 to be wearing that." Rick's wife was in her early 40s.

One guy at the party reminded me of Michael Caine. Perhaps it was his British accent that made me think that. When I told him he resembled Caine, he said, "I wish I had his money." He used to live next door to Rick and suggested that instead of making fun of his look, I should write about the mohawk guy.

A woman came over, and I told her that she looked like Melissa Etheridge. She said, "I'm not gay!" She then told me she went to a website that tells you who you look like. The site told her that she looked like Jennifer Jason Leigh and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I met a woman named Karen, a teacher from Los Gatos. She used to live across the street from Rick and is still friendly with him and his wife. She told me some interesting stories from her ten years of teaching, and we wondered why so many female teachers are sleeping with their students.

As I was jotting notes, a guy asked me if I was a building inspector. Since there were contractors here, I suppose it was a legitimate question. When I told him I was writing about the party, he said, "Oh shit! I better not tell you anything." I asked, "Are you wanted by the law?" He smiled and said, "Which state?"

Rick had people of all ages and races at this party, and everyone had fun. As I was talking to Rick about the variety of people he knows, his wife told me that she had talked to the old lady down the street.

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