A few times a year, local party legend Bear Paw gives me the heads up on a party. His directions on my voice mail are always amusing. This one said, “I don’t know the name of the street. Maybe it’s Ohio. But it’s behind Vons. You’ll find it. Just look for the big Astro Jump thing in the front yard.”
I found the North Park locale, and though nobody was using the inflatable jumper, it was the perfect landmark.
There was a handful of people drinking on the porch. The party had started mid-afternoon, and many of the guests would be moving on to the Ken Club to watch some bands. Someone told me about a storm-tunnel concert they were going to after that. “You have to check it out,” he said, “but it’s late. The bands don’t usually go on until about 2:00 a.m.”
The North Park party was for Jessica, who was turning 23. She took me inside and showed me a piñata a friend made for her, and I noticed a few cards and presents on the table.
Since Bear Paw wasn’t there, and it didn’t look as if there was much food, my girlfriend and I went out to eat. We got a call from friends going to the Hillcrest theaters for a movie and decided to join them.
I was going to go back to Jessica’s party after the movie but wasn’t sure if they’d left for the Ken Club yet. I decided on a party in Pacific Beach that a guy named Nick told me about.
The P.B. party was at a large, two-story house with some interesting architectural features.
My girlfriend was glad it was a sushi party.
When we showed up, Nick was out front with a few guys smoking. I asked him about the sushi. He told me that it took him a few hours to prepare. Nick’s worked as a sushi chef for years. “I love preparing food for my friends,” he told me. “I don’t mind the work it takes, and it’s fun to have everyone hanging out.”
An Asian woman overheard me say that I know little about sushi, so she started telling me about it. The most interesting story she shared involved a restaurant called Ninja in New York. She talked about the swords that the chefs use and the elaborate desserts they keep on a bed of ice. My girlfriend interjected a joke about Ninja stars being thrown at customers.
A blonde named Denise came over and offered me a drink. She was one of Nick’s roommates. I noticed their large selection of booze. Denise leaned in and said, “I’ve gotten into wine recently.” I ask what wine goes best with sushi. “Oh, we have sake for that.” She poured me one and I downed it. Another guy told me that he prefers heated sake. His girlfriend added, “You get drunk a lot faster with hot sake. I don’t know why the heat affects the alcohol content, but it does.”
Denise, who was getting giggly, offered to show me around the house. In one of the downstairs rooms, a few guys were watching TV. I asked a woman sitting nearby what she did for a living. She said she owned Ellure Salon on Park and Market downtown. She said, “I was going to advertise in the Reader, but you guys are too expensive!” I smiled and said, “Okay, well, I’ll tell ya what. I’ll mention your salon in my column.” She jumped up and said, “I’ll give you a free haircut.” I lifted my cap to show her my receding hairline and said, “That won’t be necessary.” Her boyfriend made a few jokes that seemed to make her a bit uncomfortable, so I changed the subject to the Chargers — someone had a team jersey on. Later, I heard the hairstylist talking about how she teaches her clients about makeup...and arranging flowers.
As Denise walked by on her way to the kitchen, she told me that she contributes to Yelp. A guy in the kitchen grabbed me in a headlock, and Denise told him to chill out and chided him for always acting crazy. He let go of me and apologized.
Continuing our tour, I followed Denise upstairs. She said, “I’ll show you the VIP room.” I asked her what that was, and she whispered, “My bedroom.”
She opened a drawer full of wine corks and told me that she collects them. I mentioned that a guy I smoked cigars with years ago collected his cigar rings, which, when you looked at the variety of colors in the big glass jar, was like artwork. The corks all looked the same. She told me about some of her favorite wines as she held up the different corks. One came with a story about how the date was horrible, but the wine was excellent.
One of her roommates was in a loft reading a book. With the music blaring, I wasn’t sure how she could concentrate. I said, “You’re being unsocial.” Denise said, “That’s what she does at our parties. She stays up here.” The roommate smiled.
Denise introduced me to a friend who looked like Hilary Swank. The woman told me that she works in promotions for NBC.
I noticed that the people in this group had interesting jobs. One guy told me about being a marine biologist. But, at that point, I’d had four sakes and two Red Bull and vodkas. I was feeling a buzz, and my notes were getting sloppy.
I thought the crowd had started doing karaoke but soon realized it was a couple of drunk guys singing along to the music. When I mentioned this to a guy nearby, he said, “Yeah, I know. With this many Asians, you’d think there would be karaoke.”
About a half hour later, the crowd in the living room was doing the limbo. Everyone was plastered from the wine, sake, and beer, and it was a lot of fun to watch. A Latina from L.A. who met this crowd online was trying to get me to participate. A woman named Julie offered a good technique for me to try, but my head was spinning.
My girlfriend was talking to Nick about his sushi, and it seemed as if he had to repeat himself several times. I appreciated the fact that he wasn’t pushy about having me try it. I ate a few California rolls, but that’s all I touched.
As I was getting ready to leave, Denise told me that she works part-time as a bartender at the Aero Club. I told her that we’d try to stop in for drinks sometime. As I got my camera out to snap a few final photos, Denise said, “Just take pictures of the good-looking people.” A guy next to me said to her, “But then you wouldn’t be in the photo.” She laughed as she opened another bottle of wine.