A guy I play racquetball with has a wife who's in the IKV Stranglehold, a Star Trek dub dedicated to Klingons. When I found out they were having a party, I asked if I could crash it They e-mailed me an invitation that said "K'han Den Wants You!" It also said there'd be games, food, awards, and Rite of Ascension. I asked Cat, my friend's wife, who's been in this club for three years, what all this stuff means. She said, "K'han Den is the character name of the captain of the ship. His real name is Dennis Hanon. IKV stands for Imperial Klingon Vessel."
When I showed up at West-view Park in Mira Mesa, I saw eight flags set up in the grass. What popped into my mind immediately was William Shatner on Saturday Night Live telling a Trekkie conventioneer to "Get a life!" I peeked into a white tent and saw a ceremony going on. It looked like a marriage, with no wedding party.
When I talked to these people, most of whom were dressed like Klingons (longhaired wigs, big protruding foreheads with fake eyebrows, brown capes, and other accessories), I was surprised at how normal they were. One guy said, "I know, adults dressing like kids and acting crazy. I have a Cub Scout troop, and we sometimes dress up for them. We have a [Klingon-style] ceremony for when they go from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. They love it. Some of the parents might think we're crazy, though."
Some parents at ths park also thought they were crazy. They alternated between watching their kids' soccer game and watching the Klingons doing their thing. One guy walking by with a cooler said, "What's with these geeks? I saw them dressed like this at ComiCon [the annual comic book show at the convention center]." I wanted to tell him, "Couldn't others think you were a geek just for going to ComiCon?" Another guy told me, "My wife and I were laughing at them. They think they're really Klingons." This guy and I started
talking about fantasy football and I said, "You realize, there are people that think we are geeks for playing fantasy football." He said, "We don't dress
up and wear helmets and shoulder pads." "No, but we are pretending we are coaches and GMs, just like these guys are pretending they are Klingons."
One soccer dad walked by and said, "Do you think these guys ever get laid? Oh, wait, look at that woman there. I see some Klingon cleavage."
Apparently they do get laid. One couple was being ute and affectionate with each other. She went to cook food and said, "How do you turn it on?" She then said, smiling, "No, how do you turn 'it' on?"
A lot of the people here were couples. And there were a few families who brought their kids. One little girl looked bored, but the others were having a blast. There was a thin, good-looking African-American guy wearing one of the Star Trek shirts with the Starfleet insignia. At one point, he stood on a park bench to film the festivities.
One guy showed up in his outfit, complaining about the traffic on the 805. I would love to have seen the other drivers' faces as he went by. If you get road rage and are yelling at someone who cut you off, do they take you seriously with a face that looks like the kid in Mask? I also wondered how hot these guys were getting on this sunny afternoon.
When they started the games, it was fun to watch. They did a Whose Line Is It Anyway? type of thing. It was funny watching them improvise, but a lot of the jokes were too inside for me.
One lady who showed up wasn't in costume. I asked her why and she said, "I'm not feeling well." I asked about a bench where a lot of people were sit-
ting with cameras, but not dressed up. She said, "They're a Federation club. So they don't dress up."
I asked another guy how long they'd been doing this and he said "About seven years. Once it was flooded where we did it. We got here today at 6:00 a.m. We didn't see goalposts up, so we started setting up. The soccer league did show up, so we had to move over to this area instead."
Another game they played involved a tug-of-war while standing on small platforms that they couldn't fall off. One lady got rope burns on her hand when her opponent pulled too hard. One younger guy (not in costume) kept winning. After winning his fourth time he said, "I'll be here all week."
I loved walking by different groups and hearing bits of conversation. One said, "I'm a naval lieutenant junior grade." I wasn't sure if that was his rank in the military, or in the Klingons.
Another group was trying to come up with a group name for the competition. One suggested "Bleeding Gums." Another said "The Bloody Ticks." Another group there was called "Dragon's Tooth."
One person showed up with food and said, "I brought offerings." When he set them down, I asked if I could take a picture. As a few people gathered together, it reminded me of when I was in radio, and some heavy metal bands were standing together for a picture with their long hair blowing into each other's faces.
I saw a lady trying to untangle these bead necklaces. It was as if they were Christmas lights. I asked what they symbolized. She said, "Ah, it's basically who has paid for lunch and who hasn't." Lunch cost $7.00.
I heard some people speaking Klingon. Cat told me, "It's a real, working language. More people speak Klingon than speak Navajo. If you want to write a phrase for your story, here's one."
What she said sounded like a 45 record played at 33 speed (note to self: young people won't know what the hell that means; they listen to CDs or downloads). She wrote it down as "Heghlu meH QaQ Jaj-vam." Some nice Scrabble words, I thought. I asked what it meant and she said, "Today is a good day to die."
As I left, I saw that more soccer parents had turned their chairs to watch the Klingons. I heard a crazed man, either a coach or a father, yell, "Kick a goal! Damn it, kick the ball!" The kids playing soccer looked to be ten years old. And I wondered who really were the crazy adults at this park.
That night I went to a St. Patrick's Day party at The Ould Sod in Normal Heights. I would be far from normal when I left. It was four days after St. Paddy's Day. But the owners and staff of an Irish pub were too busy to celebrate. One said, "The place is filled with college guys and amateur drinkers on St. Patrick's Day." I'd find out in a few hours that I was one of the amateur drinkers.
When I talked to Tony Finglas (my friend Wayne told me Finglas is the town he grew up in, not his real last name, but added, "Some people don't even
know his real last name"), he told me, "We usually have our party the day after. All the owners from the other pubs in town show up." He pointed out the owner of Giblin's in Carlsbad, Hooley's in Rancho San Diego, The Field, and the owners of both the Blarney Stones.
When I spoke to Ned Giblin, the owner of Giblin's, I told him I saw him and his son perform in their restaurant years ago. He said, "No, that's not my son. He's only seven years younger than me. The years have been kinder to him,
though." (Note to self: I learned you never ask a woman if she's pregnant. Now I know you never ask a man if the guy he's with is his son.)
One person in the Ould Sod said, "St. Patrick's Day isn't a drinking holiday back home the way it is here. We go to Mass." I asked Finglas if he hated the jokes about the Irish always drinking. He says, "No. It's just a stereotype, but I don't care. We do like to drink." He continued, "A neighbor might say 'Did you hear about what happened in Istanbul?' You respond, 'Yeah. Let's go have a pint.' Or someone might say, 'Sorry about what happened to your grandmother.' You say 'Thanks. Let's go have a pint and talk about it'"
One of the owners of the Ould Sod, Tommy Quinn, had just come back from the Dominican Republic. He said, "They don't know about St. Patrick's Day there." I said, "They do know their cigars, though." He replied, "Yeah, I was going to bring some back, but I don't know about all the legalities."
Irish singer Tony Cummins, who performs all over town (as well as in other states and in Ireland), came over to talk. When we started talking music, I went on for about 15 minutes on something. He
looked at Wayne and said, "Does this guy ever shut up?" He then moved his fingers as if they were my lips yapping. I was embarrassed, but it was also funny, because I do have a habit of not shutting up when talking about music. And my six shots of whiskey could've added to it.
Being in a pub where everyone has an Irish accent is cool. It adds an authenticity. It's like when you see a mariachi band in a Mexican restaurant. Especially since it seems as if there are so many American-owned Irish pubs (including the one across the street from the Ould Sod). And, as Finglas said, "They all have corned beef and cabbage. I see it more at the pubs here than I ever did back home."
One of the other owners of the Ould Sod, Mick Ward, was there. I asked how the owners of different businesses could all be friendly with each other. One said, "We have a bond. We're all friends. And it's not like we take business from each other. There are so many pubs all over in different parts of town. Look how many the Gaslamp has."
The jukebox had been playing rock 'n' roll. When we first walked in, it was Van Morrison singing "Gloria." I thought: how appropriate, some Irish rock. Then I heard Elton John and Tom Petty and realized it was just a regular jukebox. Although I did hear Tony Cummins coming from it at one point in the evening.
At some point the jukebox stopped and Finglas grabbed a drum he wore on his hand. Cummins and a few others started singing Irish tunes. After the third song, one of them started singing "Danny Boy." Finglas pretended to hit him on the head with his drum.
After my tenth shot of whiskey, I could tell I was getting loopy. I thought I'd try to keep up with these Irishmen, but they weren't drinking all that much. I heard one say something about the old joke, "I never knew he was always drunk until I saw him sober."
It was strange, because as people walked by. I'd have trouble focusing on them. And a few started looking like the Klingons I had seen earlier in the day.
I started to talk like one.
I'd have something I wanted to say, but it was coming out of my mouth like gibberish. At that point, Wayne told one of the owners he'd drive me home. I finished another shot and he brought me some water. Wayne said, "If you drink any more whiskey, you'll be writing about a Cinco de Mayo party, not a St. Patrick's Day party." I stood up to go to the bathroom and promptly fell to the floor. I made it into the bathroom, but they had to come and get me because I was just leaning against a wall in the rest room. (Hey, it is called a "rest" room. I was resting.)
Since the bar was closing up, I heard one guy leaving say, "I'm outta
here. I'm off like a Jewish foreskin." I laughed, and as I walked out, I fell down again. Boy, drinking is fun.
I won't tell you what I did to the dashboard of my friend's van on the way home.
While he was cleaning it, and I was on the pavement of a parking lot off of Adams Avenue, I thought again about Star Trek. I wished I could say "Beam me up, Scotty" and be back home.