You can never figure out which events will bring out the partiers. A few years ago, there were several “420” parties on 4/20. This year, I didn’t hear about any. But, on Cinco de Mayo, I had plenty of places to hit.
I went to the San Diego Sports Club in Hillcrest for the first event. A tall African-American woman with orange...things in her hair was standing outside the bar inviting people to the event. She had on a Rockband T-shirt, which is the new video game they’d be playing in the bar.
There was a $10 cover to get in, and my girlfriend gave me grief when I suggested we should talk our way in. She pointed to a sign that said all proceeds were going to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. As I took out my wallet I said, “What about proceeds going to starving writers?”
One of the organizers was Hillary, whom I had met at a previous party. She’s involved in something called “Team in Training,” which trains people to run their first marathon while raising money for the Leukemia Society.
I watched as people played the Rockband game. It’s like Guitar Hero meets karaoke, but it takes an entire band onstage. You don’t need musical ability, just quick reflexes. I’m colorblind, so playing along to the colored dots would throw me off.
The first group wasn’t doing so hot. Midway through “My Sharona,” the word “failed” appeared on the screen and the song was stopped. As the crowd laughed, one of the hosts said, “Don’t hate. Participate.” After they attempted another song and again failed, someone mentioned the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame calling.
My girlfriend went to play Galaga in another room. I heard someone talking about which song they should do. I glanced up at the musicians, and on the screen I saw the word “bass groove.”
I talked with Hillary for a few minutes before she got on stage.
After her performance, I watched a group of guys do Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.” I hate the original version and figured I wouldn’t care for this one. The drummer was into it, though, twirling the sticks around his hand and raising his arms up high after certain beats.
I heard a bunch of guys making a ruckus in the other room and glanced over as they were throwing dollars into a punching-bag machine. I watched them for a few minutes and thought that I probably seemed gay.
My girl and I headed off to another event at a house in La Mesa. It wasn’t hard to find, as there were colored lights swirling out front.
I walked into the back yard where a deck was decorated as a discotheque with a spinning mirrored ball and colored lights. The host and homeowner was Mel. “Is that why you called this Cinco De Mellow?” I asked him. “Yeah,” he said, “it’s a play on words in two ways.” He told me he got the stage stuff from someone who ran a club.
The Jacuzzi was covered, and beer pong was being played on it. Around the corner, a fountain was flowing with margaritas. One woman was trying to figure out how it worked. She said, “I just want to make sure it’s not being recycled from somewhere. I don’t want to see pipes coming from the bathroom.” I grabbed one and some tortilla chips and talked with a guy whom I’d overheard went to the Styx, Journey, Def Leppard concert. I was surprised anyone went to that, especially with Styx and Journey not having their lead singers anymore, although you could make the argument that that was an improvement. When I mentioned that to the guy, we debated whether or not Dennis DeYoung was still in Styx.
A few people started dancing when the music was turned up. A couple of kids who looked to be in their late teens asked me if I knew where the margarita fountain was. I said, “I’ll tell you if you can prove you’re over 21.” A nervous smile crept up on one of their faces.
Over at the margaritas, my girlfriend ran into a bouncer she knew. I figured if anyone was actually going to card them, he would.
I went into the kitchen, where Mel’s girlfriend Julie was slaving over the food preparation. I don’t think I ever saw her outside.
She talked about her work rescuing greyhounds. She had one that was friendly with everyone at the party. I thought the dog would be more energetic and running around. Julie said, “This dog had a 2 and 58 record.” She also showed a tattoo it has on its ear, which I found out is common for dogs that race.
I ran into a woman I know named Vikki. I asked about her son, who’s 15. She told me he’s in a band called Oden’s Fist. She said, “Don’t ask me what it means. I have no clue.”
I talked about old cars with a couple of mechanics. One guy had a Harley shirt on. I asked him what his favorite car was and he said a ’69 Camaro. He also likes ’50s trucks. He mentioned possibly buying a car as a project once his divorce was final.
I saw the other mechanic talking to a guy holding a huge container of beer. He said, “This is two feet long. And it’s filled to the top.”
My girlfriend and I saw that they had regular ping pong going on. As we waited for two people to finish, I looked at all the aquatic stuff on the walls of the game room. Mel is from Florida, and a lot of the decor relates to that area. The poster with the various fish showed a jewfish; we had never heard of that. Someone said it’s the biggest of the groupers. I said, “The biggest fish, or just the biggest nose?” The guy didn’t laugh. Mel overheard this and said, “Everyone is PC now. They don’t call it that anymore. I’m not sure how it got the name.” I said, “Florida does have a lot of older Jewish people living there.”
As we started playing a game, a strange black dog came in — a poodle with its hair in dreadlocks. Mel said, “I figured, if you’re going to have a poodle, you have to make it look cool.” I asked how the hair was done and he told me beeswax.
The dog was standing by my leg the entire time we played, but when we finished and went to pet it, we couldn’t find him. We smelled pot coming from somewhere and I said, “Strange coincidence that the dog that looks like Bob Marley is now over where the pot’s being smoked.”