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I went to a tiki party at a campground by the beach in Cardiff. Over the weekend, they had over 200 people there, which, they told me, was their biggest turnout yet. They had tiki torches, a thatch hut, and carpeting on the sand. Kamin explained, "We have friends that get us that carpet. It works perfectly, and when the party is over, we just roll the thing up and throw it away." I tell her that I'd been to some parties where people probably wished they could throw their carpet away.

She made me a drink and said, "It's a Cape Cod. It's vodka and cranberry juice. Well, someone told me that's what it's called." I didn't argue. She took me around and introduced me to her friends.

I noticed that several people were named Bob and that on the walls, it said "B.O.B." I asked about this and a guy jumped in and told me, "There are lots of locals named Bob, what can we say?" He said that the "B.O.B." had been around for 30 years.

Kamin introduced me to a person named Scary Terri. She said she got that name from bowling. "Did you have trouble keeping the ball in your own lane?" I asked. She ran over to talk to someone else, and I never found out how she got the nickname.

Then I met someone called Psycho Dave. I started to wonder if everyone at the party had a nickname. Dave told me that he was going through a divorce and that his wife wanted him to go to see his friend's dad, a psychiatrist. I asked him if that was why his friends called him Psycho Dave. "No. My friends called me that long before any of this. It was endearing, and it just sort of stuck."

His story didn't make a lot of sense to me. I thought he told me that his father-in-law was also a psychiatrist but that he didn't want to talk to him. And at one point, Psycho Dave told me that his father-in-law said he was normal. He seemed normal.

A woman started talking to me about UFOs, and I thought, she might not be normal .... They thought they saw UFOs at their campsite and "freaked out" watching them. The next morning, they discovered it was a group of kids at another campsite who were throwing bags that they had lit on fire into the air. "Well... that's cool," I said. "My first UFO story I've ever gotten at a party."

Someone who overheard me said, "So, this is the best party you've ever been to, isn't it?"

"Well... I've been to a few mansions in Rancho Santa Fe that were awesome." She replied, "Yeah, well, they had to buy their greatness. We didn't."

I met a guy who owned a restaurant. He used to be a fireman in Texas. He told me he had been an extra in the movie Paper Moon and that he had played a character named Bubba in Blazing Saddles. I didn't remember the movie well enough to recall who that was.

A couple of women who were leaving overheard our conversation and said that they worked at a restaurant in Monterey and that one of them waited on Al Pacino once.

I heard someone playing ukulele and found out later that it was Kamin's mom. She also plays saxophone, banjo, and bongos.

When I heard a couple guys playing acoustic guitar near the back, I went over to talk to them. They told me that they were in a band in the '60s called Smokestack Lightning. "Did you like the Yardbirds' version of that song?" I asked them. "We hated it!" they said in unison. Then one of them said, "Nobody did it better than Howlin' Wolf."

I saw a guy wearing a shirt that read, "I see drunk people." He had four empty beer cans near him. I saw older men laughing while looking at a yearbook. They were wearing reading glasses and using cell phones to light the pages up in the night.

I listened to the waves hit the beach as I sipped my Cape Cod.

Someone asked me if I wanted a cookie, and I turned around expecting to see Girl Scout cookies. The cookies, however, were shaped like hands in the "hang loose" symbol -- thumb and pinky stuck out -- and covered in frosting.

As I chewed my cookie, someone came over and told me about a person who does a great Scooby-Doo impression. I listened as he did it. I felt like a judge on American Idol. I wasn't sure if I should comment like Simon. Or better yet, "Good job, dog." Should I say, "Cartoon characters are a dime a dozen. Let's hear you do a Nicholson impression."

I smiled and said, "Sounded good."

Someone got a bonfire going, and though I tried to take a photo of a large group of people standing near it, after a few shots of smoke blocking their faces, I gave up.

A woman told us that she was a guitarist, and we said we wanted to hear her play. There was a broken guitar nearby that someone fell on. It was in horrible condition and looked pieced together, as if it were a jigsaw puzzle.

"I'd play that if it wasn't broken," she said. Someone suggested, "I think it just needs to be tuned." We all had a laugh but then the woman picked it up and played a few songs. When she finished, people applauded. I said, "I've seen guitar strings break during a song, but never a whole guitar.... When you got to the bridge on the second number, that thing was ready to burst."

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

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