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Parking downtown is a pain. I was surprised to find a pay lot for $4. Even more surprised when, as we paid, my date and I overheard a couple having sex in a van. As we walked away, we heard screaming and saw the van shake. We sat down at the Luna Lounge and noticed a private party in the back room. My date said, "Why pay for dinner? Let's crash it!"

When our waitress arrived to take our drink orders, I inquired about the party in the back room. She said she thought it was a wedding rehearsal dinner.

I've crashed weddings, but never the rehearsal dinner.

My date said, "We shouldn't order dinner. We could eat in there."

"There's no guarantee we can crash it," I said. "And besides, the waitress is already on to us. We would've had to walk right in there. You don't have to order wine, though. They'll probably have drinks in there."

As soon as the words left my lips, I wondered if she'd think I was a cheapskate. But, hey, she suggested it.

As we finished our meals, I noticed that people were still arriving at the rehearsal dinner. We weren't too late. We walked in and went straight to the bar. I had a shot of whiskey and my date ordered red wine. There was no charge, but I put a tip on the bar. My date said, "I'm going to mingle."

This made me nervous. We should probably stay together, I though...as a couple. But she is talkative. When the bartender poured someone else a drink, and I noticed she had an accent. I asked her where she was from. "Serbia, Yugoslavia."

How long have you been here?

"I came here ten years ago. My dad was in computers and got a job in America. He was involved in stats in sports. We lived in Colorado. He worked the Olympic Games."

I noticed she had tattoos on her arms. They didn't seem to go with her dark hair, pretty face, and accent.

I told her that my stepbrother is a teacher and that he gives me a hard time for not knowing enough about other countries and their living situations. She said, "We have a troubled economy over there. Politically, it's like the early '40s, but far from corrupt...like Russia, where the underworld seems to run things."

I asked her who owned the Luna Lounge. "She is a wonderful woman. I will not say anything bad about her!" She looked at me as if I were interrogating her. I smiled, thanked her, and walked away.

I overheard some people talking about the bride, Carolyn, and that she'd converted to Judaism. Four guys agreed about how great it is. I jumped in and said, "I have a relative that made his wife convert. He spent years cheating on her. Finally, he left his wife for this other woman. That new woman didn't convert...."

One of the guys said, "Well, Carolyn actually converted before she met Todd. She didn't convert just to marry him."

Someone added, "And when someone takes on their spouse's religion, it makes sense. If you are going to have kids, you will have some big fights if one wants to have a Christmas tree and the other wants to have a menorah."

Waitresses brought trays of food around, and my date looked at me as if to say, "Why'd we order dinner?"

One guy said, "The food they are bringing out is so diverse. I had meat skewers, then mini hamburgers. But what the hell was with the beets and goat cheese wrapped in tortillas?"

There was an older woman, and a few people were trying to guess her age. I said that she looked to be about 85 or 86. Everyone else was guessing that she was in her 90s. Another person guessed early 80s. She wasn't talking to anyone, and my date said, "Well, now I have to go ask her age," and she left.

When she returned, I asked her how she could possibly ask the lady such a question. "I told her that her skin looked great and said she had to tell me what moisturizers she uses." She then told her that we were trying to guess her age and that I write for a paper and needed to know. She said, "I'm 86, but tell him to say I'm 29."

My date said, "Since I asked her age, you have to fetch me another drink." I went back to the bar. The bartender probably thought I was going to bug her with more questions about her homeland. I asked for a whiskey and a Cabernet. She said, "That will be $15." I wondered if she found out I wasn't supposed to be here. I asked about the booze being free, and a guy nearby said, "That was only for an hour."

The groom's dad came up to me and said, "I hear that you are crashing this event. You should crash the wedding, too." He told me that he crashed his high school reunion recently. "They wanted something like $80 a head. I wasn't going to pay that. I just showed up. One time they asked me to leave. I waited until the organizers left the table area and then snuck back in."

I saw the waitresses bringing desserts out and grabbed a chocolate-covered strawberry. My date chose a piece of pie. I heard the bride say that after a party in Vegas, she kicked one of her bridesmaids out of the wedding party. I thought things like that only happened in Julia Roberts films.

As I walked to the front of the restaurant to jot my notes, I overheard a blonde woman in black leather tell the guys she was with to whip her. She saw me writing and asked me what I was doing. "It's a school project," I told her. She said, "You're too old to be in school." I told her that I write about parties and she said, "I went to a party at the Playboy mansion. When I left, I had a bruised ass." I said, "Well, you're telling those guys to whip you. Maybe you should stop telling people that and you'll leave places with fewer bruises." She ignored my advice and said, "I think I had the best boob job in the entire mansion." She stuck her chest out, and I had no reason to doubt her.

When my date and I got back to the car we saw that the van was still there. It was no longer shaking, and we didn't hear any sounds coming from it. It had a small vent open on the roof. I said, "I was expecting to see billows of cigarette smoke coming out of that."

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

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