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I overheard a bartender at the Ould Sod talking about a party at Hotel Solamar downtown. I jotted the date on a napkin, and the following Monday, drove down to crash it. I knew there was supposed to be free food and drinks and that the Disco Pimps would perform. What I didn't know was that it was for people in the bar and restaurant business.

A woman with a clipboard walked down the line of patrons waiting to get in and asked, "What bar do you represent?" I didn't hesitate: "The Ould Sod." A guy who worked for one of the restaurants providing food was walking by and said, "Oh, I love that place. I'm the bus driver. Every St. Patrick's Day I bring the group in." I said, "Oh, that's you! Cool."

As my date and I approached the door, I realized that they were collecting tickets and checking IDs. I had my date move more toward the guy checking IDs and acted like I didn't have mine. I thought that would distract them from collecting the tickets that we didn't have.

The guy wasn't going to let me in without an ID, but then I magically found it in my other pocket. He stamped our hands and we walked in.

My date, a vegetarian, didn't want any of the chips that had fish on top of them. Then we saw the lobster macaroni and cheese. I said, "If there's nothing here you can eat, we can go somewhere else." She smiled.

There were chicken tacos and, at the last stand, she helped herself to bread and funky-looking spreads.

I grabbed a salad and we got in line for a drink. When she ordered something nonalcoholic, the bartender said, "I knew there was one of you here!"

I got a Mexican martini, which was the strongest drink I'd ever had.

A guy that resembled Kurt Cobain was on stage with an acoustic guitar playing a Cure song. My date smiled and said hi to someone. They stood there for a minute smiling at each other. As we walked away, I asked her, "Do you know him?" She said, "That's the guy from Top Chef. Wow. What a trip. I feel stupid, though, saying hi to him like I know him."

"Believe me," I said, "he probably gets a lot weirder things from people who recognize him."

We left before the Disco Pimps went on, but this event they were calling "Bartenders' Ball" reminded me of a party I went to a while back...

A bartender had contacted me about a party I was not able to make. She then told me that she advertises on craigslist to bartend parties, and she'd give me the heads up on the next one she would work.

The party was for a woman named Felicia in Spring Valley. She was graduating from National University, so I thought she'd be in her 20s. Talking to her, I found out she had three teen-age kids and a job working with special-ed children. Guests congratulated Felicia on completing college with a job and a family.

I introduced myself to the bartender whom I had spoken with a few times on the phone. She reminded me of Julia Roberts. Since she'd mentioned living in San Diego with her brother and missing the horses she used to have, I brought her a toy horse. I set it on the bar near her tip jar and said, "Hey, those people making the tacos across from you are sweating over a grill, with a longer line, and I don't see a tip jar over there." She smiled and talked about tipping. A woman approached us and said, "Can you make me the blue ones this time?" Her friend said, "No. I like the red ones better." I said, "Okay, well, I didn't know bartenders needed to know so many color combinations for drinks. Maybe you do work for your tips."

She knocked a bottle over, and I told her to finish making the drinks as I picked the chunks of glass off the ground. I got some towels to clean up the rest. Luckily, there was a sink there in the back yard. She said, "I can be so clumsy sometimes."

I met a woman who looked like Fergie from the Black-Eyed Peas. When I told her that, she said, "Oh, it gets me backstage all the time. I met Mike Ness. Got backstage at Snoop Dogg. His drummer hit on me."

Someone else heard this and said, "I was on a tour bus with Outkast. They have these couches, and someone brings you drinks. It was cool."

I went to get another cocktail and heard a guy giving the "bartendress," as she called herself, a hard time for breaking the bottle earlier.

She told me that she also cleaned houses and about a guy that offered to pay her much more than she typically charged. She said that as she cleaned his upstairs windows, he got out of the shower and didn't try to cover up. Later, he appeared at the window nude while she was cleaning it. She had yelled at him and said to me, "I couldn't believe the nerve of the guy. The next week, he called me to work for him again. And he offered to pay me a lot more." I said, "You seem so bothered by this. Why not call the cops? He probably does this to other women who aren't so sure what to do about it or that might not speak English well enough to want to complain. Either that or tell him you'll clean his house and windows for a few thousand bucks, if it's worth it to you." She laughed and said, "What a sicko."

I went back to the group that had partied with musicians. Someone was talking about partying with Digital Underground. I said, "Are they that band that did 'Humpty Dance'?" The woman didn't answer. She just looked at me and said, "They were bringing us drinks all night. They wanted to take my friend home. This was in L.A., and the paparazzi were taking pictures of the limo. I was taking pictures of the paparazzi. It was wild."

With the loud music, I wondered about the neighbors. The house was at the bottom of a hill, and I saw a car pull into a driveway next door that sat above the back-yard bash. A woman got out and looked over at us. I thought by the look in her eye that she was pissed about the noise, but she opened her trunk, grabbed bags of two-liter drinks, and walked over.

I guess it helps inviting neighbors to the party.

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

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