I went to a fund-raiser for the music departments of Point Loma High and a community middle school. The small donation included a spaghetti dinner that came with an impressive spread of food.
But it was the entertainment that made the night so much fun. The students played big-band-era tunes for the people on the dance floor.
“In movies from this era, people were always spiking the punch at school dances,” I joked with a woman named Diana. “I have Visine and Tums,” she enthused and then made her way to the dance floor.
One couple came over and asked me and my girlfriend why we weren’t dancing. We told them that we weren’t dancers. They pressed the issue, so we figured that if we went and got food that would keep them from bugging us to jitterbug.
I saw one lady slip and wondered what kind of liability there was at a fundraiser. I asked a lawyer nearby who just laughed.
The lawyer and his date Leslie went out onto the dance floor and put on quite a show. They told me later that they met at a swing-dance class.
There were students walking around picking up empty plates and cups. Someone said, “Do you think these kids are on such good behavior because there are teachers roaming around?”
When a ten-year-old girl delivered breadsticks to us, I remarked, “This is just like being at Pat & Oscar’s.”
As we finished our spaghetti, we noticed that there was a break in the dancing. A woman went out and gave a brief dance demonstration.
The couple that had been bugging us to dance earlier said, “Now you don’t have an excuse.” I said, “Uh, well, my excuse now is that I haven’t gotten dessert.”
One of the high school students was pushing around a cart with a variety of desserts. It was empty by the time it got to our table. Ten minutes later, it was restocked and coming around again, but the same thing happened. This time, though, people who were sitting at tables in the back walked up to the cart at the first table. Everyone at my table joked about surrounding the door near the side of the stage so that when the cart rolled out, we could grab what we wanted. “If we’re going to do that,” I suggested, “it might be better to dance, or at least pretend to dance. Then, as the cart rolls out, you could just casually dance over, grab a pastry, and head back to the table.”
Others started throwing out ideas, and it seemed as if we were in a war room with Patton or in a huddle with Knute Rockne.
After another ten minutes went by, someone at our table raised his hand and called the kid over. He brought the dessert cart directly to our table.
The dancing couple came over and said, “If you want to burn off the calories in that cake, no better way than to jitterbug.” One of the young kids nearby asked, “Isn’t that a kind of cell phone?”
I heard a guy nearby humming the Louis Prima classic “Sing Sing Sing.” The band played it, and the young drummers sounded great.
When a different couple asked us why we weren’t dancing, I thought about lying and claiming that I had a basketball injury. I said to my girlfriend as they walked away, “People really give you a lot of crap if you don’t dance.” Someone overheard this and said, “Are you going to finally dance?” I said, “Well, no. The only dances I can do are the cabbage patch and the Charleston.” He laughed, and it ended in a debate with my girlfriend. I had asked her how many people under the age of 25 would know that the Charleston is a dance. She said most would. I disagreed, so we asked some kids. Most of them knew, although I contend that asking that question at a dance increases the odds of correct guesses.
We headed out before anyone else asked us why we weren’t dancing.
The next party I hit was a La Jolla affair hosted by a salsa dancer named Susie. More dancing. It was a surprise party for her dance partner, Jerry.
I saw a group of tall guys and asked them if they all played basketball. They told me that they played lacrosse in college, a few for the University of Virginia. I asked them if that’s a sport where height helps. “Actually, one of the best players of all time — he was like the Tony Hawk of the sport — was only five foot nine.”
I asked them about professional lacrosse. One of them said, “You’d only make $15,000 to $20,000 playing. A lot of guys just end up coaching at the high school level.”
I met a 23-year-old woman who told me that she was a classically trained pianist and violin player. She told me a story about a 40-year-old music teacher who she had in high school. “He had a thing for Asian girls. He was married to one, but he wrote me notes and songs about me. I told him personal things about my life. He ended up coming to my house to give me a gift for graduation. I cried. My mom was real upset, asking what was going on. I was 17 years old.”
I said, “A teacher shouldn’t be involved that way with a student, even if you were over 18, which you weren’t.” We debated the issue, but she agreed with me.
A friend of hers was standing with us, and I asked her if she dated teachers. “No. But I’m in the military, and I’m dating a guy two ranks ahead of me on the same ship. They found out after a year and shipped me out. We’re engaged now and both stationed here at Coronado. It was hard for a while. We couldn’t email on the boat because they were checked. On the phone, we had to act like we were discussing work-related things.”
I met a guy who told me a story about an NFL player he knew. “He made ten million bucks, and he was the most frugal person ever.” He wouldn’t tell me the player’s name but said that he played for the Broncos.
Some people on the back patio were smoking. Others were doing “keg stands,” standing on their hands while drinking from the keg hose.
I saw a guy peeing over the balcony. The patio people were rowdier than the rest of the party.
Back inside, I saw that a cake was being brought over to Jerry. It had trick candles, so after his first attempt, everyone sang “Happy Birthday” again.
I met another Asian woman as we were both grabbing sodas. She said, “A lot of people don’t realize that 80 percent of Asians are allergic to alcohol. With me, my teeth hurt and my skin breaks out.”
Someone overheard this and told me about their allergic reaction to chocolate. I asked, “How was Halloween when you were a kid?” She said, “It wasn’t that bad as a kid. I might get bad migraines or just break out a bit.”
As pieces of cake were passed out, I talked to the sister of the girl whose teacher tried picking her up. She informed me, “He sends her birthday cards each year...and letters. My mom is a teacher. I don’t know why she forwards these to her. Or why she doesn’t report the guy.”
As I was agreeing with her, we heard a drunken guy tell a woman that he did to the cake what the kid did to the pie in American Pie.
A woman said, “And guys wonder why we think they’re pigs.”