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I was invited to over 70 Halloween parties this year. For New Year's Eve -- none. It would be a night that I'd have to earn the title "crasher." A friend gave me the scoop on a party in Fletcher Hills. She wasn't going to the party, but she gave me directions. It was a theme party: "Bum or Billionaire." The girl I brought dressed like a billionaire. She looked the part, but I'm not sure it was worth spending 40 minutes at her place trying to get the zipper on her dress up. She said, "Hey, it isn't easy trying to look like a billion bucks."

I went the bum route. I didn't shave that morning. I didn't comb my hair. I put on a weird shirt, buttoned it wrong, wore some ripped jeans, and put brown and black makeup on my face to look dirty. We were on our way. I had an old pair of sunglasses in the backseat and broke the lens off one side and wore those. I was told I looked like John Belushi in the Blues Brothers.

I stopped to get a piece of cardboard and wrote on it "Will ring in the New Year for food." We also brought a few bottles of booze. I wrapped mine in a brown paper bag. I took an old cigar out of my ash tray. A woman yelled, "That isn't lit, is it?" Another person asked why I didn't fray the ends of the cigar. I said, "I didn't want it getting all over the couch." A lady said, "Wow, a thoughtful bum."

A guy came up and noticed I didn't have matching shoes. He didn't either, and like me, he had one brown loafer and one white tennis shoe. We compared sizes. He wore an 8; I wear an 11. One girl said, "You know what that means?" I said, "Yeah. We can't trade shoes."

There was a ping pong table in the garage where we played beer pong. The bar in the living room had a sign stating that booze was off limits.

Two food tables were set up for the theme of the party. One had a white table cloth, fine cheeses, caviar, and wine; the other had newspaper laid out under plates of Twinkies cut up with toothpicks stuck in them. I told my date I had to eat the Twinkies because it went with my costume. (Truth is, I like Twinkies a helluva lot more than caviar.)

A guy in a Chargers jersey and cap came up to me, and we talked about the team's most recent victory. He told me that his New Year's resolution last year was to quit smoking. "I did it, too. I was up to two packs a day. And, I'll admit, those first few weeks were tough. I wanted to kill somebody." He seemed to want to keep talking about it; I said I was proud of him and moved on.

As I predicted, most men were dressed as bums and most women as billionaires. However, the host of the party, Mike, looked sharp in his suit. He's a teacher, and he and I talked outside near the pool. As we were talking, I saw a woman walk by with a dog in her purse. I saw another guy with a shirt that read "Trust me, I'm a lawyer." When he found out I worked at the Reader, he told me his name was Bruce and that he practiced law in San Bernardino. He said, "I read the Reader online. I read you and Ed." He would ask me about parties, and I'd ask him about law. Often, he'd say, "This is off the record." When I asked a complicated legal question, he said, "This might not sound like it makes a lot of sense, and I'm a bit inebriated..." but it made sense, and it was fascinating. We disagreed about the three-strikes law. Mike said, "Tell him what your motto is." Bruce smiled and said, "I'm sort of like the Earl Scheib of law. I say 'Reasonable doubt at reasonable prices.'"

Bruce told me that he had to work the day after Christmas and that he spent the day trying to pick a jury, while the D.A. reminded everyone that it's usually a day off. Bruce said, "Finally, after all the jurors and alternates were picked, my client said, 'I'll take three years, right now.' So the entire thing was a big waste of time." We had an argument about why innocent people confess to crimes they didn't do. He said, "When the D.A. makes an offer, sometimes it's tempting." I just don't buy that an innocent person with no previous record would ever admit to doing something they didn't do.

A guy came up to Mike and asked, "Is that your Triumph motorcycle parked on the driveway?" I thought perhaps someone got drunk and stumbled into it, but the guy just wanted to tell him how cool it was. I told Mike what I was expecting to hear, and he said, "It would've just fallen into the broken-down car I have parked behind it."

I turned around to find the Charger fan standing behind me. He wanted to talk to me again about his smoking habit. I told him I was proud of him for sticking to it and got away from him.

My date was people watching. She said, "Look at that woman. I don't know if she's pregnant or not.... That must be the tallest Asian guy I've ever seen. He's over 6'5"."

We met a couple named Sabrina and Scott. They had met on a blind date a few years ago, and she told us her dad passed away recently and that they moved from Point Loma to La Mesa so that her mom could move in with them.

The countdown to the New Year started, and everyone crowded around the TV. One girl ran in and said, "Oh, damn! Are there any single guys in here?" The ball dropped, everyone yelled, and kisses were exchanged. I said to the people next to me, "Did you see that on the TV?" They asked what it was. I said, "Ryan Seacrest just kissed a woman!"

Mike came over and told me of a tradition they have, and I followed him into the back yard. I watched in amazement as two guys in catchers' masks whacked each other with canes. You could hear them swooshing through the air as they swung and missed the opponent. When one of them got hit, you could see the shirt rip and blood drawn. Occasionally, one of them would yell, drop their cane, and walk away in pain. One guy who won three fights in a row twirled his cane around like a gunfighter would his pistol in the old west before putting it back in his holster.

I wondered if this was how Chuck Norris celebrated the New Year.

Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Josh Board.

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