I went to a couple of older folks’ parties…although it’s funny how “old” changes in your mind as you get older. When you’re a kid, nothing seems older than your 38-year-old dad. I’m sure when you get there, old is 78. And at 78, you know people in their 80s, and that is old. And with this explanation of old, I sure hope the two people I’m writing about aren’t reading this.
The first party was in a classroom, for Ms. Solovay, who teaches a medical class in the Mission Valley area. Of course, when there’s a party in a classroom, it’s not going to get too rowdy. There are other classes going on nearby.
Michelle was the one who put this thing together, asking everyone to bring a different dish or dessert to class. But I glanced at the table with the goodies and only saw a carrot cake, two different kinds of brownies, and two different flavors of coffee. One gal showed up with a bouquet of flowers and balloons.
One person told me, “There was a card passed around in class a few days ago, and we all signed it. And our teacher had talked about how she celebrates her birthday for the entire month of November. We all love her so much; we wanted to do something special for her.”
Someone asked, “How come when there’s a potluck going on, there are always so many people that don’t bring things?” Another classmate overheard this and, defending herself, said, “I didn’t know we were supposed to bring things. Nobody told me, or I would’ve brought something.” Of course, that never slows anybody down from helping themselves to the munchies from the people who did bring stuff.
One person who didn’t bring anything had an excuse. She was a Jehovah’s Witness. When class first started and a test was passed out, somebody said, “We should all get an A, since we’re having a party for you.” But after the test was taken, this Jehovah’s Witness quickly left the room and never came back. I went out of the room to ask this girl why she couldn’t stay and celebrate. She told me, “I don’t really want to talk about my religion. I might not answer the questions right. If you do have questions about Jehovah’s Witnesses, I can give you the names and numbers of the two people from my church who would be happy to answer any questions you may have.”
The next day I asked a guy I know, whose girlfriend is a Jehovah’s Witness, what is so bad about celebrating a birthday. He said, “There were only two birthdays mentioned in the Bible. And both times somebody died. And they don’t believe in giving out gifts. The only two things they celebrate are anniversaries and the death of Jesus.”
When was the death of Jesus? And do kids get gifts then the way children do at Christmas?
“No. They don’t believe in giving out gifts. The date always changes because the Jewish calendar is 13 months long. It’s in the last two weeks in March. Every year it falls at a different time.”
I had heard that the teacher loved Clint Eastwood, so I brought a life-size cardboard cutout of him I saw at North County Fair. I put a bubble over his head saying, “On your birthday I’ll take you out and show you why they call me Dirty Harry.”
When she saw it, she said, “Wow, you know, I actually have one, but it’s different than this. It was back in his Rawhide days.” She looked at it with a sinister smile on her face, and someone said, “I wonder what she’s going to do with that thing. Couldn’t you have found a blow-up doll of Eastwood?”
Ms. Solovay tells us she once watched him film one of his movies. “He pointed to me and said something. I was so excited that he was pointing and talking to me that I didn’t hear him. He smiled and repeated himself. He was telling me to stand somewhere else, and I was thrilled. Although he did tell me I was in the way, and that’s why I had to move. I tell people Clint Eastwood talked to me.”
She was going to meet another actor the day after this party: Camryn Manheim, who plays a lawyer on The Practice. She’s the actress most famous for winning an Emmy and saying, “This is for all the fat girls.” Solovay tells me, “I won this charity auction where I get to have lunch with her. I’m bringing my daughter, and we’re going up to Los Angeles tomorrow. Since I write for San Diego Lawyer, I’m going to also do an interview with her.”
That night I went to a party for a lady named Wendy, who was turning 50. It was at an apartment in Chula Vista. I got there at 7:00 p.m., which was two hours after it started, and she was already drunk. But when people would ask her how much she’d had to drink, she’d say (in a drunken voice), “I’m not drunk.” A clear sign that she was drunk was that she was hugging and kissing everyone. I guess that’s a lot better than the people who become assholes when they’re drunk.
Wendy said, “I can’t wait until I have a party like this in four years, for when I retire. I hate my damn job.” I asked her where she worked, but she continued on about her age and how she wasn’t that old. Somebody asked where the food was, and Wendy said something about how she wanted to order pizza. But half an hour later, when somebody brought up the food again, she said, “Somebody has to go pick it up. To get the special deal Pizza Hut had going, you have to go pick up the pizza, not have it delivered.” One of the few guests who hadn’t been drinking volunteered to go pick up the six pizzas.
When Wendy went into the kitchen, I heard a bunch of glasses fall and break. Somebody said something, and I heard her say yet again, “I’m not drunk, damn it!”
One of the few young guys I saw there had a CBGB shirt. This is great, I thought. We can talk about the Talking Heads, the Ramones, Blondie…all those bands that played there. He said, “Oh, I don’t know much about those bands. Somebody just gave me this shirt as a gift.”
I finally found a person to talk to. He was an old, bald guy wearing a Harley-Davidson shirt. He knew everything about every topic I brought up. When I asked about the Chargers using Doug Flutie, we had a great conversation about what makes a good NFL quarterback. When he brought up the death of Bobby Hatfield of the Righteous Brothers, we talked about old rock bands for half an hour. It wasn’t until he brought up bowling that I gently said, “I’ve got to go talk to other people, too.”
Wow, that was a close call.
There were three children at the party. They were in another room watching the movie Cats and Dogs, and I was surprised that they didn’t keep running around and getting in everyone’s way. Later, they were outside, and I went to see what they were doing. One was 4 years old, one was 10, and the other 15. They were having a burping contest on the stairs. I decided to saunter back into the party. When the German chocolate cake was brought out, I heard somebody say, “It looks like a giant turd.” Hopefully it wouldn’t taste like one. Wendy said, “I make the best homemade German chocolate cake. You’ll love it.” And I sure did. They only put three candles on it, and Wendy asked why. Somebody said, “It would be a fire hazard to have all 51 on there! And besides, you wouldn’t be able to blow out 51.” Everyone laughed, and she grinned at the innuendo and said, “I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”