I fit a couple of parties into one night. Both were at bars. Well, the first wasn’t really at a bar, per se. It was in the cantina of Fidel’s in Solana Beach.
I was told the party was a surprise for Tim’s 40th birthday. When I got there, a few people were talking about how it was also a guy named Shawn’s birthday.
Tim’s wife Lynn bought the first round of drinks. I noticed a cake had a chocolate Lab on it. I said to the person near me, “If there’s going to be a dog on a cake, I’m guessing a chocolate Lab is the most appropriate.”
Lynn and Tim are animal lovers with a bunch of dogs.
I asked Lynn how she kept the surprise from her husband, and she frowned and said, “I think he found out. I had told him before that if he ever needs to get ahold of me or can’t find me to just check my email and see where I am. Well, he did that today and…I guess he found out about it.”
When Tim came in, feigning surprise, the party kicked up a notch. A mariachi band came over to sing “Happy Birthday.” One of the players had a mute on his trumpet, which was perfect for a smaller room.
I noticed the party favors included little bottles of tequila.
Matt the Magician came out and did some incredible tricks for the crowd. As he was chewing one card up, someone said it would be a great trick if he choked on it and was able to give himself the Heimlich maneuver.
He went up to one table, and I couldn’t see the exact trick, but he was showing a spider on his hand. It somehow appeared on the woman’s leg and she screamed.
When he did a trick that involved using a knife to cut into his arm, fake blood squirted everywhere. I heard someone say, “This guy does some intense tricks. He’d be the perfect magician for teenage boys.” The wife responded, “Or punk rockers.”
I said, “I just hope that’s not the same knife they’re going to cut the cake with.”
When another table nearby started talking about magic tricks, I said, “I know one.” I was wearing one of those cone-shaped party hats. I said, “I’m going to pull a rabbit out of my hat.” As they looked on, I slid the rubber band away from my chin and held the hat upside down in front of me. As I reached inside, I said, “Oh, it’s not a rabbit, it’s a hair,” and I produced a small strand of hair between my two fingers. There were four people at the table. Not one of them laughed. I got a few giggles when I took a second party hat, strapped the rubber bands of both hats around my shoulders, and said, “Madonna’s bra.” As I turned around to order a drink from the waitress, I almost poked her eye out.
Before the cake was cut, the magician stuck one of the candles through his arm. I heard someone say, “Do you think he ever got any burn scars or broken bones when he learned these tricks?” I said, “I dunno. But I practiced tricks as a kid. I wanted to be a magician and learn how to saw someone in half. I always practiced that, and now I have a lot of half brothers and sisters.”
Again, four people, no laughs. One woman smiled, though. I headed out before I bombed again.
I hustled down to North Park for Judith’s bash. It was at the Office, and the invitation she sent to the Reader specified how to dress: like John Travolta.
I didn’t have a white suit, so I was wondering if his denim-jean-jacket look from Welcome Back Kotter would work.
Judith was turning 65. When I saw her, I asked about the attire. She said, “Well, this place is newly remodeled. It’s got a New York style, and the disco ball… I figured the theme could be ‘dance your ass off.’”
She said she was an ex–flight attendant. “That was when you could call us ‘stews,’ or stewardesses.” I asked if she works now, and she said she’s a P.I. chasing down county welfare recipients.
I found out Judith also taught gymnastics and dance at a high school in San Francisco. She wasn’t shy about jumping on the raised dance floor and showing her moves.
I grabbed a piece of pizza. Judith felt bad that a few of her friends hadn’t shown up. There was still an interesting crowd of people.
Judith told me that her high school basketball team beat Phil Jackson’s. She said Jackson (who’s now the Lakers’ coach) was a tall, geeky guy back then. She partied with him a few times, and Judith said he always called her “Sugar.”
Judith then poured me a glass of Australian wine, which was great.
When people showed up, Judith was giving them gifts. She gave me a Who’s Your Daddy energy drink, but I can’t remember why she said she was giving out gifts. I said, “This is the only birthday party where the people showing up get gifts.” A guy at the bar, who seemed to have been drinking for a while, pointed out that he gave Judith a Target gift card.
Judith would take a swig of wine, go dance for a bit, and then come back and tell me great stories. She said, “I’ve posed nude, twice, for artists. Hey, I need to pay the bills.” I told her she’s like the Bettie Page of North Park.
She told me she had her eyes done in TJ for $500. She said they were getting droopy. I asked if it made her nervous going there for surgery, and she said, “No. They have great doctors. But they wouldn’t take credit cards. That was a pain.”
Among the other facts she threw out: she’s a quarter Chippewa Indian, and her chihuahua won the World’s Fastest Chihuahua contest.
There was a big guy with dreads who told me he didn’t know Judith, but his friend invited him. He said, “I’m the real birthday crasher. I’m going to 20 more parties by the end of the month.” A few minutes later, I saw him in another part of the bar reading.
I noticed one guy was wearing a pizza hat. Another person had gorilla-feet shoes they got from Goodwill ($4.99).
I’m guessing my “rabbit out of the hat” joke would’ve worked with this crowd.