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I got an invite to a party in Santee. I was told there'd be a band called Mudwolf playing in the back yard. I figured, hey, I love Steppenwolf...and Wolfmother. Odds are I'll like this wolf band, too. It was near Santana High School, and I wondered if that meant the neighbors would be used to noise and not call the cops when the band started. When I got there, Paul, the bass player, told me, "There are three cops here. It's doubtful that the cops will come and break this party up."

The house was in a cul-de-sac and the back yard overlooked a canyon.

I asked the band about their name. One of them said, "It's a combination of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf." A teenager nearby said they hadn't heard of either of those musicians. I told them that it was Muddy Waters's song "Rollin' Stone" that the Rolling Stones got their name from. Another teen said, "I thought it was from the Bob Dylan song." Another said, "I thought it was because of the magazine," to which his friend replied, "The magazine isn't as old as the band, you idiot." A guy in his mid 40s overheard all this and said, "I thought the band got their name from that old poem about a 'rolling stone gathers no moss'." I said "No mas" and went to get a drink.

There were two cocktail tables and two tables of food. Inside, there was more food and a crowd of people watching ultimate fights on TV.

Outside were heat lamps, a fire pit, a kegerator, which I've noticed have become popular at parties, and what someone told me were citronella tiki torches, designed to keep bugs away. I noticed how well they worked when I went to the other end of the back yard to jot notes and moths were flying all around the light.

There was a guy wearing a hat that had breasts on it. I heard him say to someone, "My eyes are down here." And later: "Is this a boob party, or is it just because it's Santee?"

I went to the kitchen for a soda and was talking with a lady when a glass broke on the floor. As the hat guy helped collect the shards, he looked up at the woman I was talking with and said, "You just wanted me to bend down so you could see my tits. But they're fake, you know."

Someone leaned in to me and said, "He's a cop, if you can believe that."

Half an hour later, I saw him wearing a hat with a male body part dangling from it. "Does he have a collection of those caps?" I asked someone nearby. I was told that his teenager daughter was there and that she gets embarrassed when he does this.

When Mudwolf started, my date said, "Hey, when that guitarist was tuning up, I heard him play The Simpsons theme." I said, "I was stoked to hear Neil Young's 'Down By the River.'"

A woman staggered around swigging from a bottle of Captain Morgan and offering some to anyone she'd pass. A guy came by wearing a shirt that read "Camel Toe Hot Sauce," and I overheard a guy say, "This is a Santee party."

I had to drop my date off and head to another party. As we were leaving, we saw two teenaged girls by a tree. One of them said, "You ask him. Come on, go ask him." They had a camera, and my date said, "They probably want a photo of you." I asked them what was up. "Do you mind taking a picture of us?" As I tried to figure out their camera, I noticed a shocked look on their faces. I turned around to see the cop with the hats in a Speedo and nothing else. As he walked into the house, I wondered how his daughter would feel about that.

* * *

The next party was for George, who has pancreatic cancer. I got there at 11:00 p.m., and the party was wrapping up. There were some left-over tacos and they rented a margarita machine for $75. I tried to draw one out, but there was just slush. I was told that I missed hula dancers, which they paid $300 for. "Are you trying to rub all this in because I showed up so late?" I asked Genni.

Genni's sister told me that she worked for the United Nations in Ethiopia and lived in Saudi Arabia in the '70s. "Moving back to this country was a real transition. I went from a camel to a Toyota truck," she said.

I saw a Dr. Pepper machine near the pool and started to put coins in it. Genni ran over and said, "You don't need your money. There's a bucket of quarters on the table near it." That was convenient.

One woman there asked me about various theme parties. She said, "We were going to have a white-trash party, but I don't think my family would get it." She told me about one party she had with a "Farewell Fidel" theme, which sounded interesting.

George had gone to bed, so I didn't get a chance to talk with him. Genni talked to me about George. I noticed a buggy he had in the garage, and Genni told me about his hobbies. I noticed a lot of flashlights. Genni said, "He'll always buy them. The expensive ones, too. He's currently on flashlight restriction."

One woman there was dating a guy in a bluegrass band. She told me her boyfriend collected banjos. "He's selling one on eBay right now for $10,000. He bought another recently that was gold plated. He's got a Deering, a Stelling. He's also in the bluegrass society. He just loves those instruments."

Genni told me I was pronouncing her name wrong. I asked about her parents naming her, and she said, "My parents are very old-school. My dad is from old Southern money."

She told me her great, great, great grandfather founded the Georgia Medical School and was a surgeon during the Civil War. "I think there might be another 'great' in there," she added.

I asked about the flamingo collection in the living room. She told me that she has 36 plastic ones and a few made of other materials. As I was leaving, she asked me if I wanted one.

"No. But I'll take one of George's flashlights."

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

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