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I went to a few interesting parties in March that I'm just getting around to writing about. One was at a place downtown called the Shout House. It was their first anniversary and also a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. The party started at 7:00 p.m., which would leave me enough time to go to other parties that night. When Charice (who works in marketing) invited me, she mentioned something about "lots of free drinks." But when I walked in the door, there was a guy holding a bucket. He said, "This is a fundraiser, so we are asking for donations." I threw in $20, thinking "So much for the free drinks." At fundraisers I feel strongly about, I never mind throwing in donations. And I have lost a lot of family members to cancer.

There were waitresses walking around with apple and strawberry martinis. I grabbed one as I looked at the items in the silent auction. They included hotel stays at places in Coronado, restaurant and theater packages, and other things. I was surprised the minimum bids were so low ($50) when the items were valued around $900 each. I sure hope the items garner what they are worth. I do volunteer work for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and am bothered when their auctions get bids that are so much less then the items are worth.

A lady put a sticker on me that said "Cal Carrot says eat healthy." I told her people would think that was my name. She said, "No, I'm giving them to everyone." As she walked away, I told her it was bad timing to be putting the stickers on us while we were in a buffet line that had pizza, chicken strips, fried shrimp, and egg rolls. I didn't see the desserts, which were on the other side of the room, until I was walking out the door and it was too late: two huge cakes and lots of brownies and chocolates.

I thought the Shout House did a great job of not pushing people to donate. I heard one person say, "The best nation in the world is 'donation'." Charice would occasionally take the stage to tell us how long we had left to bid on the items.

After an hour, the two piano players took the stage (they call them "dueling pianos"). I started taking a few photos of the guys and an employee came up and said, "You have to refrain from videotaping the performances." He walked away before I could explain they were photos.

The pianists said that requests people made should be made with a donation for the charity. One of them started to play the song "It's Raining Men," and he said, "I will keep doing this song until someone throws up a $5 donation." Within the first few words, someone threw $6 onto the stage. We all laughed.

A guy next to me dropped his glass of wine and it shattered. A few minutes later, someone tripped on the stairs behind me and dropped a plate of food.

An attractive blonde was walking around in a strawberry outfit earlier, but I never talked to her. It was only "carrot top" I got to chat with.

One of the piano players noticed her sitting at a side table and said, "That tomato stepped out of her costume." She laughed. He glanced at the buffet area and told the people sitting there that they had to sing louder. He said, "I want you singing so much, you're spitting on the food."

Someone next to me said "Gross." I didn't think that was as bad as the well-dressed white-haired man I saw eating a celery stick while standing in the buffet line. Is it normal for people to eat food while they are piling it on their plates? Would it kill them to wait two minutes until they got back to the table?

A man who looked like the late actor Jerry Orbach was called onto the stage. It was his birthday and they asked him to take his belt off. He did a striptease. He was then told to whip one piano and one half of the crowd would yell "Yee haw." When he whipped the other piano, the other half of the room would have to moo. They started playing "Rawhide," and he wasn't whipping the piano. Finally he got into the spirit of it.

Two girls were later called to the stage. One was reluctant to go, and I don't blame her. The people who made it up there were often made fun of. I noticed she was in a wheelchair. A few guys lifted her onto the stage and she was a great sport as they called all the men to the front of the stage to sing "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" the way the guys in the bar did in the movie Top Gun. The singers, who often changed the lyrics to make songs funnier, sang "Bring it on back/Now hop in the sack."

When someone requested a Def Leppard tune, one of the piano players went to the drum set. He put one of his arms inside his shirt and played one-handed. (The drummer of Def Leppard lost an arm in a car accident.) Someone next to me said, "That drummer rocks, but he looks like Doogie Howser."

I left a little after 9:30, when two new piano players took the stage. They were both from Mission Viejo, and I'm not sure if they normally drive down for gigs here.

I talked to Charice, who was sitting at a table with signs promoting the Relay for Life on July 30, also raising money for cancer. She told me they had made $3,400 at this party.

I drove to my next party wondering if I'd feel guilty partying with no money being raised for charity. Maybe if a few people reading this donate to the American Cancer Society, it will rid me of the guilt.

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