There was an October wedding in Coronado with a reception on Soledad Mountain. A guy named Jeff called to suggest I crash the Hawaiian-themed affair.
I wore a Hawaiian shirt to fit in. The problem was my girlfriend and her friend, who was visiting from out of state, didn’t wear Hawaiian garb.
When we walked through the gate leading to the backyard, there weren’t many people there. I made the rookie mistake for party crashing — I arrived way too early.
We sat down at a table so as not to attract too much attention.
A few people looked our way, and one couple pointed at us. I was getting nervous and wondered if we’d be thrown out. I went over to the deejay. He was talking to a woman who looked as if she might be his girlfriend. The music he was playing fit the Hawaiian theme, and I asked him about themed parties. He said it was easier selecting the music when there’s a theme.
I went to the tiki-style thatch bar, which was set up in the neighbor’s backyard. I overheard a couple talking about their several trips to Hawaii. One person said to the couple, “I haven’t been in over 25 years.” I was leaving for the islands a few weeks later but didn’t feel the need to share the information, especially since the topic of how I knew the bride and groom might come up.
I saw two coolers across from the bar with soda and bottled water. No Hawaiian Punch, though — I was bummed. I hadn’t had one in years and because I was hitting a few other parties that night, I didn’t really want to drink alcohol. The bartender, however, convinced me to try one of her mai tais.
I made small talk with the bartender, who told me that she was the bride’s sister. She said that bartending helped put her through college. I asked her if she hated the movie Cocktail with Tom Cruise. She laughed and mentioned Tom Cruise playing a bald, hairy guy in Tropic Thunder. A woman standing nearby said, “I had to walk out of that movie, it was so bad. And I’m a film lover.” I was surprised when she claimed to see every movie that comes out. She said that The Ring and Vacancy are among her favorite movies.
The woman and guy she was with shared the story of how they got together. He adopted a dog from the animal shelter where she worked, and she ended up hiring him to build an enclosure for her turtles and other animals. He built an enclosure for over 10,000 butterflies.
When he mentioned something about tortoises, I said, “They don’t eat butterflies, do they?” He replied, “No, but they eat everything else in sight.”
The bartender was making margaritas and I grabbed one. I told her she was doing such a good job that she should think about returning to bartending. She told me that she takes care of a few disabled people, and we talked a little about that.
I headed back to my girlfriend and her friend with my third drink in hand.
They filled me in on some of the looks they were getting from the guests. But, the place was filling up; I figured nobody would question us.
One couple was leaving, saying they had another wedding to get to.
I heard another woman say that she was going to the garage to play a game of pool. I glanced in there and saw a few people hanging out.
I went to get my girlfriend a Coke and met Tim, the neighbor who built the bar. He told me it took him four days. “You can’t write about that, though,” he said. “The San Diego building department will be here for code violations.”
It seemed as if Tim had been drinking some of the bar’s inventory, but that made for a fun conversation. He laughed and pointed out various guests and told me stories about them.
I finally grabbed the soda and headed back to my table, which had a few other couples. One guy was a pastor, and the woman talking with him said, “Is that what you do for work? Is that, like, your main gig?” She then talked about her divorce and how her ex-husband takes their son to his church. She talked about a gay pastor — who didn’t like kids — and how important she thought church was. The pastor listened politely, but it looked to me as if he was a bit uncomfortable. At one point, the woman mentioned a Quaker church that her child went to for a school field trip.
I wondered if the pastor tired of people telling him religious stories. He’d probably like to grab someone by the lapels and shout, “Let’s talk about the Chargers having such a horrible season! I can talk about other things that happen on Sunday, y’know!”
We went to get food after most of the crowd had gotten their plates.
I noticed that there was a bubble machine that wasn’t very effective. It blew a few bubbles every couple of minutes.
I saw a guy and his girlfriend who looked to be in their early 40s and assumed it was Jeff, the guy who tipped me off about this party. I walked up behind them and said, “Do not turn around. You don’t know me. I’m here to crash the party, and my cover can’t be blown.” He turned around laughing and shook my hand. He introduced me to his girlfriend Valena. He mentioned something about the reception being the day before the wedding because so many people were going to the Chargers game the next day.
Jeff asked if I’d gotten any food, and I said, “Hey, when you crash parties, grabbing food is your first priority.” I then told him that I was going back to my table before my food got cold and that we’d chat later.