Over the years I've been writing this column, I can't recall crashing a bachelor party. Whenever I've gone to friends' bachelor parties, there was a strict rule about cameras. This stemmed from a friend who once convinced a stripper's bodyguard that the photos he took would not end up on the Internet. It didn't occur to the best man that the fiancée might see the photos of her husband with a nude woman on his lap surrounded by a bunch of cheering drunk guys.The incident led to divorce.
When I arrived at a Rancho Peñasquitos bachelor party, I asked if it would be okay to take pictures. The bachelor said it would. His buddy said, "This isn't going to be one of those parties with strippers acting crazy. Nobody is going to show up with a donkey or anything...but you can say someone showed up with a donkey if it makes for a better story."
Hector, the bachelor, was in his 40s and probably beyond the age of wanting all that craziness. This evening was about him getting together with a bunch of friends. Hector introduced himself to me and pointed out the taco bar in the back yard. "I'm going to go make some margaritas. You want one?"
I said yes and saw that beyond the blender he had several bottles of liquor. There were ramps leading into the house. I said, "Hey, Hector, did you put the ramps in for the guys who drink too much? They can just crawl into the house instead of tripping."
"My brother is in a wheelchair," he told me. "When he comes to visit, I don't want him to feel weird about asking anyone for help."
I apologized, and Hector smiled and said, "You brought up a good point. Some people might need the ramp tonight. Hell, I'm marrying a woman a lot younger than me. The ramp might come in useful when I need a walker."
I took the opportunity to change the subject and asked him how he met his fiancée.
"I met her in Mexico City. A woman who was like an aunt to me was on her death bed there. While I was visiting her, we met in the hospital."
Someone walked by and asked, "Does she have a green card? I mean, I'm not INS or anything. I'm just curious."
Hector laughed as the guy downed a shot of tequila.
He then went to talk to other guests. A couple of guys next to me were complaining about women. One said, "Anybody who gets married is crazy."
There was a tall guy with silver in his hair standing nearby, and I asked him, "Have you ever been married? Or do you think like these guys?"
"I was married twice. I buried both wives. It was very tragic...to have to bury your companion, the woman you love."
I felt uncomfortable and didn't know what to say, but after a minute of silence (which felt like ten), he told me about his wives. One was a psychiatrist, who he said "analyzed everything." The other died of a drug overdose. "We were young and did a lot of stupid things. We'd go out and party, get wasted...all that stuff people did in the '60s."
He was an interesting guy with plenty of stories. He told me about the time he met Mötley Crüe at a freeway gas station. Tommy Lee came over from the tour bus and invited him to their show.
He told me his son met basketball star Patrick Ewing in San Diego when the Olympic team was practicing at UCSD. He said, "The guy looked down at my son and said 'Don't even ask for an autograph.' My son hates him to this day. I tell him he should just get over it."
"Why should your son get over it?" I asked. "If some athlete can't sign an autograph, especially for a kid, he's a jerk. It would be different if there was a crowd of 200. Even then, he could be polite about it."
I saw engineers at one table working on some piece of equipment. As they took it apart, I said, "Is this what happens when you go to a bachelor party with an older crowd of engineers and architects? The only thing being stripped is a piece of equipment."
Someone got up and slipped a dollar into the machine as if it were a garter belt.
A few guys were talking about their boats and asked me if I had one. I said, "Not since I was a kid playing with one in the bath." I asked one of the guys what the name of his boat was. "Cirrhosis of the River. I had to name it that. The thing is black and yellow."
I was told Hector was an inventor, and I asked him about that. "I came up with this golf caddy. It's really lightweight. You could carry your golf clubs on the plane. I invested all my money into it. I remember being so stressed. I was at a point where I only had $2 in my account. I went outside my warehouse to see how much gas I had in my car. I felt better that the tank was still half full. I fell asleep on the couch on the factory floor. I woke up when the fax machine went off. It was Costco, and they placed an order for 1,500. Another order followed. It ended up being over a million dollars in product. I screamed, I was so excited. A few days later, Sam's Club ordered some. Then Brookstone called -- they wanted me to make different models for them."
Hector told me about watching someone buy his product. "I went into Costco and just stood there where they were displayed. A guy walked up and was looking at them for the longest time. I didn't want to interfere or anything. He finally grabbed one and walked away. Then he walked back. I got worried. These thoughts went through my mind about what he could've found fault in. When he got back to the display, he grabbed a second one. I was thrilled."