When I arrived at Nick’s house by Grim and Upas in North Park around 10:30 p.m., all that remained of the day’s barbecue were a few slices of watermelon, a block of cheese, some burger buns, and a single short-rib. The party had been going since 5, and I sensed instantly that I’d missed a bulk of the revelry.
It had already been a large day. Just hours earlier I’d been schooled by a friend on the proper pronunciation of “quixotic” (my fault for being pretentious enough to use it in conversation), chugged a lukewarm blue raspberry Four Loko in lieu of proper sleep, and mustered the courage to order my first beer at Tobacco Rhoda’s — arguably the shadiest bar west of the 805. It’s the day crowd you have to look out for, my hyper-literate friend informed me.
So when I rolled up to Nick’s place to assist in the celebration of Tony’s 26th birthday, I wasn’t surprised to find myself pretty much on par with the swagger of the best of them, who’d been boozing most the afternoon. I stuck a 12-pack in the fridge and talked with Michael, a professional band photographer who shares my passion for the bass guitar. He even has bass clefts on his wedding ring. We discussed the prospect of starting a band with two basses — something we’ve both had in the back of our minds for years, as it turns out.
Robert joined the kitchen conversation. Also a bassist, Robert told us about the old Gene Simmons bass he once owned with a small scroll hidden inside the body that read: “By the time you read this my soul will belong to the devil — Gene.” He’d left the note in there when he sold the guitar.
On the front porch, a few guys smoked cigarettes and prepared to shotgun beers, wielding steak knives to puncture their cans. A newcomer arrived and they entreated him to join.
“I won’t shotgun with you,” he said, resolutely, “but I will hit the Dong Bong.”
The device, a ridiculous novelty beer bong with a giant plastic phallus on the drinking end, materialized from inside somewhere, and the newcomer slammed back his Tecate with the nonchalance of a seasoned sorority girl.
Back in the living room, the Misfits were on the stereo, and a few partiers played football video games. I talked with Tony, who told me about a Braid cover song he recorded with his and Nick’s band, Fever Sleeves. He denied all ownership of the Dong Bong but did admit some vague involvement with the genesis of the apparatus. It later came out that the beer bong was a gag gift from a bachelor party at a castle in Palm Springs.
“I couldn’t wait for his birthday,” Tony’s girlfriend Lauren told me, “so I just kept giving him things when I got them.”
The bounty included, among other things, a Jon Stewart coffee table book and a quality pair of earplugs.
I eventually warmed up to the Dong Bong and gave it my best on the front porch. Unlike others present, I had been denied the privilege of Greek culture, and thus the beer-bonging ritual, by the insignificant state university I attended deep behind the Redwood Curtain of Northern California — a school that gravitated more toward circus arts and horticulture than fraternal ceremonies of sudden intoxication.
The Dong treated me royally, all things considered, so I took off with a handful of others to finish the night at Bluefoot. ■
Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Chad Deal.