The house had a spacious deck that looked out over a canyon in Mission Hills.
The party was on a Saturday night in Mission Hills. Celebrants were all members of the graduate school that’s part of the High Tech charter-school system that has branches in Point Loma and Chula Vista. The grad school is for teachers who work at the various High Tech schools to get master’s degrees in school leadership and other subjects. They really take care of each other over there. Beats the pink slips at San Diego Unified.
The house had a two-level porch that looked out over a canyon. The backyard was full of trees and then a steep descent to the floor of the gorge below. I asked Kelly, the owner, if she ever got wildlife from the canyon. She answered in the affirmative.
Once, when her daughter was playing in the idyllic dollhouse that’s set up at the corner of the porch, a fox leapt up over the rail and scared the poor kid half to death. Kelly also suspects that something, probably a coyote, might have gotten to her old cat.
A fox attacked this doll house.
The party had been going for a little while by the time I got there, so I decided to pass on the tuna sashimi that sat temptingly out in a dish because maybe people had been picking over it and leaving the worst pieces for me. Instead, I helped myself to some cans of Stella and slices from Pizza Port that had artichoke hearts on it.
All the teachers were inclined to slide into talk of students, classrooms, parents, and grades, but I don’t really have much to offer on that, so I dragged a few people into a conversation about struggling to learn musical instruments.
We all agreed that we’d never be rock stars.
On my way back from a bathroom visit I heard chanting. It sounded like a man saying, “...tuna, tuna, tu-NA, tu-NA...” over and over. It was John, a big guy who looked like a surfer and confessed at one point that he tells grade-school kids he used to be on the Lakers with Magic Johnson. They believe him because they have no idea how much bigger Magic Johnson is than John. To them, all grown men are giants.
He wanted a hug. He got a glass of wine.
It turned out that the “tuna” mantra was part of a game. Here’s how it went: one player thought of a song, and then another player picked a word — in this case, “tuna” — but it could be any word. The first player then had to sing the melody of the chosen song using only the appointed word, and everyone else tried to guess the tune based on the melody. Whoever guessed it first thought of a song, and the original singer picked a new word to sing. Play continued like that until everyone was over it or too drunk to care.
There was talk of a trip to Redwing to sing karaoke, perhaps inspired by the tuna game, but nobody seemed ready to step in and organize an exodus. One guy, a different John who has never claimed to know Magic Johnson, went in for a goodbye hug from one of his classmates and got a glass of red wine emptied onto his shirt in the process.
“Oh, my God, I’ll email you tips to clean that off!” said the girl who dumped the wine when she saw that John wasn’t all that angry.
“Just throw it away,” I offered. “Casualty.”
Everyone sort of flowed out the door together, dispersing into the night. ■
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