OMBAC: For Big Kids Only

From South Mission Beach to Mariner's Point to Fiesta Island - jocks rule.

One of the owners of the Beachcomber Bar, next door to the Pennant, is a member of OMBAC, so the club has annexed the bar as its unofficial clubhouse.
  • One of the owners of the Beachcomber Bar, next door to the Pennant, is a member of OMBAC, so the club has annexed the bar as its unofficial clubhouse.
  • Image by Robert Burronghs

Chuck Millenbah, bottle of Bud in hand, calls the OMBAC board meeting to order. Scattered around a small back room in the Pennant Bar in South Mission Beach, the board of directors — seven men ranging in age from their late twenties to midforties, all clutching a Bud, Lite, or rum and Coke — tone down their jabbering long enough for Millenbah, president of the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club, to call for the treasurer’s report.

Chuck Millenbah and Mike Curren. In 1958 an apartment house was built on the empty lot above the beach at Redondo Court, and in Mike’s words, “broke up the gang.” No tournaments were held that year.

Chuck Millenbah and Mike Curren. In 1958 an apartment house was built on the empty lot above the beach at Redondo Court, and in Mike’s words, “broke up the gang.” No tournaments were held that year.

The treasurer is absent. “Okay,” barks Millenbah, “secretary’s report then.” “Wait!” a couple of board members chortle, “let Pete report on the last general meeting!” It is decided. All shift excitedly in anticipation of the club’s resident wit regaling them with yet another funny story. And Pete Daly does not let them down.

OMBAC 1978. "The problem with OMBAC is they think that if something’s fun with ten people, it’ll be ten times as fun with a hundred people."

OMBAC 1978. "The problem with OMBAC is they think that if something’s fun with ten people, it’ll be ten times as fun with a hundred people."

“Well, we started out at the Brass Rail with two yellow school-bus loads of OMBAC members,” Daly begins, a rising crest of snickers acknowledging the Brass Rail’s reputation as a gay bar in Hillcrest. The group shatters into fits of laughter when Daly goes into a limp-wristed, Brucey-voiced rendition of his negotiations with Buddy at the bar. “I was going nuts!” howls Daly along with the other men. “Buddy’s in his little disco fag rig; it was hysterical!” The board of directors pauses for a moment to swig beers and savor the vision of about seventy OMBAC members, mostly former jocks gone to seed, dancing with each other. Can you picture it? Daly can hardly contain himself. His red nose has gotten even redder with the excitement, and several board members urge him on.

“Well, I tell Buddy that he’s going to need a lot of rum and coke [the official club drink], and that halfway through the evening he’s gotta yell the club motto: ‘Anybody who can’t tap dance is a cocksucker!’” The room explodes into fits again, they smell the punch line. Daly yells, “And Buddy looks at me and says, ‘Well, I can’t tap dance and I’m a cocksucker.’” A collective shriek crescendos through the room, and the board members pound the tables and stomp their feet and grab their stomachs trying to keep hold of themselves. But there’s no relief in sight. “When Buddy did yell it out,” continues Daly, “all the guys started tap dancing and the fags didn’t know what was happening!” More gales of laughter. “It was the funniest thing I’d ever seen!” cries Millenbah, keeping his laugh rolling. “They were kissing and hugging…” guffaws issue forth…”it made me sick.”

Bob Grenci, the club secretary, picks it up as the laughter fades to tear daubing and chuckles. “I went up and asked where the head was.” Grenci pauses to twist his face and limp hand into the stereotyped imitation of a homosexual, and rolls his head as he says, “ ‘Nsch, well, the men’s is over there and the ladies’ is over there.’ First place I ever been to where they tell you where the ladies head is too!” That brings the room to tears once again, and the charge is bolstered when Grenci adds, “So I went to the ladies head!” The room is brought to an orgasm of laughter, from which everyone tries to recover while Daly details the other four bars the club visited on their outing the week before. It’s a beach ritual that’s been played out every other Monday night for the past fifteen years, these OMBAC board meetings, and maybe even longer than that, for another ten years prior to 1964, the meetings were a little spotty. But who’s counting? Certainly not the OMBAC.

The Old Mission Beach Athletic Club has one great fear: the fear of becoming respectable. The club’s image is inseparable from its territory, the beach; or more specifically, South Mission Beach, a short sliver of sand running south from the roller coaster to the jetty and separating the waters of the Pacific from Mission Bay. The club’s values are beach values; non-organizational, noninstitutional, noncommercial, a kind of laissez faire attitude toward fun and consciousness alteration, and a general disdain for anybody who lives east of Interstate 5. But as the club has grown over the years, things have gotten more complicated. As member Bill Kronberger, one of many attorneys in the 190-man organization explains, “The club is stable, but unstable; it’s not really well organized, but actually it is.” In short, the club has tried to remain the same, but the world has changed.

Things were a lot different down at Old Mission Beach in the late 1940s and early 1950s. (Old Mission Beach was that area roughly two or three streets either side of Redondo Court.) There were fewer people around then, so the group of anywhere from twenty to 200 kids who hung out on the beach at the foot of Redondo Court, which is near Saska’s restaurant, were pretty conspicuous. The group was mainly from two high schools, La Jolla High and Hoover High, but Mike Curren says a lot of elementary school kids frequented the place, as he did in the early Forties when he went to Mission Beach Elementary. Club legend maintains that Curren and Ron LaPolice and a few other original members invented the game of over-the-line there in the late Forties, but none of the principals will make that claim. Curren says he used to play the game in elementary school when there weren’t enough people on hand to have a real game of baseball.

The group down on the beach at Old Mission played it a lot when they didn’t have anything else to do, and eventually, Ron LaPolice marked off the boundaries of the playing field, which have become official now. In fact, practically everything having to do with the game has become official. The club has copyrighted the name “over-the-line” and also “over-the-line world championships,” there is an official over-the-line softball, and the club even seeds over-the-line players for its big tournament on Fiesta Island every July. Essentially, over-the-line is a baseball game without bases and with only three players on a team. The batter tries to hit the ball, which is tossed by his own teammates, over a line fifty-five feet away and into the field of opposing players. If they catch the ball, it’s an out; if they don’t, and it doesn’t travel over the head of the deepest player (a home run), it’s a single. Three singles score a run, and so on. The game has gotten so popular that there are about thirty tournaments played every year in San Diego, and it has spread to Canada and other parts of the United States. But OMBAC controls over-the-line, makes and changes the rules, and only OMBAC has the authority and the manpower to put on the world championships.

The foot of Redondo Court was a focal point for a couple of reasons. It originally was the end of a line when streetcars ran through Mission Beach, creating a natural stopping point for everybody. When the streetcars were eliminated in 1939 it turned into the end of the line for a bus route. Also, there was a bath house there until 1948, and a permanent lifeguard tower; it was a natural place to hang out and play over-the-line, a card game called fan-tan, and beach volleyball, which was really more popular than over-the-line. In the early 1950s, the group that was Mike Curren’s age, early twenties, was just returning from the Korean War and starting college. They flocked down to their old haunt at Old Mission and got involved with everything again, especially beach volleyball, when they weren’t working or in school. They wanted to get on the volleyball tournament schedule, and found that they needed organization and sponsorship, so they decided to for the first, loose version of the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club, with twenty-four members.

For a couple of years the club stayed informally organized, but in 1954 the members decided to make it a real club, so they applied for a state charter. The trappings came quickly. There was a kind of initiation process in which members were “buried at sand,” side by side and ordered to spit at each other. (Pel) Mel Kirshner, an original member, recalls the club made him throw bottles at the feet of sailors who were dancing on the seawall, which stirred up a gala slugfest. Dues were established that still stand today: ten dollars every six months. Only males over twenty-one could join, still the only membership requirements. The “coming out” party the club holds every year in June (coming out of winter) was made into an official club event. A clubhouse was rented at 939 Verona Court, right on the boardwalk. It had two refrigerators filled with Savoy Beer, and members were on the honor system to put a quarter in a cup for every beer they drank. Kirshner says it was also a place to take their “strange ladies.” And that year, 1954, was the year the over-the-line tournament was initiated.

There were sixteen teams and maybe one hundred spectators at that first tournament, which today seems not even vaguely related to the gargantuan romp that draws 25,000 people and upwards of 700 teams each of its four days. Kirshner, 49, remarks, “You had to be a beach person to know what was going on.” This held true for years, even after 1958, when an apartment house was built on the empty lot above the beach at Redondo Court, and in Mike Curren’s words, “broke up the gang.” No tournaments were held that year.

Starting in 1959, the tournament was played farther down at South Mission Beach, at the end of San Gabriel Court, which runs out to the Beachcomber Bar on Mission Boulevard, now OMBAC’s unofficial clubhouse. Many of the members of the club drifted down into residences in that area. Five or six over-the-line courts sufficed every year, and the tournament could be run by four or five people, with Mike Curren usually in charge, as he is today. The tournament was on the July fourth weekend, and it was about the only sign of OMBAC’s existence. The original clubhouse had been passed up, and today some of the older members still regret not trying to buy it somehow, even though nobody had any money.

Up until about 1966, the club was nebulous again. But every year the size of the over-the-line tournament increased, and so did the complaints from beach residents because of the crowds. The police, already suspicious of any kind of beach event, made it plain that they didn’t like the tournament and the concomitant drinking, traffic jams, and sanitation problems. After a big fight broke out in 1966, the cops vowed to never countenance another tournament. Club legend has it that member Bill Mahon was the one who went to the city on behalf of the club and patched things up. But a lot of credit also has to be given to the first attorney to join the group, Don Peterson.

Peterson was a prosecutor in the city attorney’s office at the time, and one morning in 1966, when he was crawling out of an apartment window in Mission Beach, he met the president of OMBAC, Dennis Dieb, who was crawling out of the window next door. Their girlfriends’ landladies allowed no over-night visitors. Peterson lived in Ocean Beach, and as one thing led to another, he found himself a member of the club. Over the next few years, about fifteen other attorneys joined the club, most of them friends or friends of friends of Peterson’s. Though Peterson likes to veil the attorneys’ role in cementing the now intimate relationship between the club and the city, it’s safe to say the over-the-line tournament wouldn’t exist were in not for his and other lawyers’ dealings with the city as members of OMBAC.

Mike [Curren] and I have always refused to say there’s a guiding hand for the political and public relations between the club and the city,” demurs Peterson. But there are plenty of clues that point to the lawyers as the guiding hands. Peterson and his pals knew many of the police officers on the force, and about the same time the attorneys were joining OMBAC so were the cops. The lawyers also had knowledge about the way the city worked, who to talk to about permits for events, and what problems they needed to “pre-answer.” Peterson had seen countless groups apply for anot get permits for big gatherings because they had no idea what the attendant problems were. The lawyers had exactly what OMBAC needed in 1966 – a working knowledge of the city’s bureaucracy. The tournament was rescheduled to the weekend after the fourth of July weekend, at the police department’s request, and all the city’s requirements were strictly met and self-enforced by the club. In 1968 the tournament was moved from South Mission Beach to Mariner’s Point, where it stayed until 1974, when it was transferred to Fiesta Island.

Today the relationship between the club and the city is distinctly give and take. In the thinking of many members, the city allows it to hold the over-the-line tournament and other functions in return for running the junior tournament for kids, the wheelchair over-the-line tournament for handicapped people, and the America’s Finest City half marathon. The lawyers, of course, wince when they hear it put that way. To them, the relationship is “delicate.” But it’s obvious the city and the club need each other to some extent. The experience the club has gained in organizing all the events, including the coming-out party, the rugby tournaments, and OMBIKE, a beach bike rally, has become invaluable to the city. The story goes that two years ago, when it was decided that the city would sponsor a half marathon during the Finest City Week celebrations, somebody asked Mayor Wilson, “But who can run it?” “That’s easy,” replied the mayor, a friend of Don Peterson’s. “OMBAC.”

The relationship has become so cozy that sometimes things are allowed to run not exactly by the book. For instance, the scoreboard for the big over-the-line tournament remains on Fiesta Island, illegally, (it is a semi-permanent structure), but the heads of the city fathers stay turned away. For another instance, electricity is said not to be available for events in certain parts of the beach area. But, as Don Peterson slyly points out, “Each and every light pole can be tapped into. OMBAC has over a dozen electricians.” (Indeed, almost every trade and profession is represented in the club.) And though the city claims water cannot be piped onto Fiesta Island for the big tournament, the OMBAC guys know where the nearest water line is, and several members are plumbers, so next year’s tournament will probably somehow have running water. It isn’t that end-runs are made around restrictions (in fact, every year the city OMBAC more stipulations for their events), it’s just that some things get done quicker and easier if the club takes the job into its own hands – like the episode with Pacific Telephone this past July. The club wanted to have pay phones put out on the island, but the company said it would cost them $300 to have a telephone pole moved from a spot close to the scoreboard to a more useful location. OMBAC asked if they could move the pole, and the phone company said it would look the other way. The club moved it and got pay phones on the island for free. “You reach your goal through different roads,” explains Pete Daly. “There’s a lot of different means to an end, and our means is the quickest, cheapest, and least harmful.”

The city’s trust in OMBAC has grown steadily since the mid-Sixties, and members have plenty of stories they like to tell illustrating the city’s high esteem for them. One concerns ex-Charger linebacker Emil Karas, who died in November, 1974, while holding the job of promotions director for the team. Friends of Karas’s wanted to hold a benefit for him out on Hospitality Point, but their permit application was turned down by the city. A few days later OMBAC came to the city asking for the same spot to hold a party, and bingo, it was theirs. One of Karas’s friends called Peterson to ask him how OMBAC managed to get the okay. Peterson told him it was because OMBAC has a “track record.” “We have an established acceptance, not necessarily a like or dislike, in the beach area from the police, the city, and the citizens,” said Peterson.

Hell, OMBAC members are the police and the citizens in the beach area. There are about twenty cops in the club now, many of whom live in South Mission Beach. Jack Pearson, head of the Police Officers Association, is a member. Several members work for other departments of the city. One of the owners of the Beachcomber Bar, next door to the Pennant, is a member of OMBAC, so the club’s annexation of the bar as its unofficial clubhouse cannot be anything but accepted by the citizens and the police.

On this night, while the board of directors meeting continues at the Pennant, Phil Forrester, an OMBAC member, stands outside the Beachcomber checking IDs. A police patrol car pulls up to the stop sign in front of the bar and Forrester yells, “Hey buzzard breath!” to the cop driving it. The car whips a U-turn around the stop sign and screeches up beside the bar. The officer jumps out and retorts, “You squid-lipped, buzzard-faced, bubble-butted sonafabitch, how the hell are you?” The cop, a member of OMBAC, goofs with Forrester while the pandemonium in the board meeting next door settles down.

“I don’t know about anybody else,” says thirty-eight-year old Chuck Millenbah, who in real life is the aquatic director, a coach, and physical education teacher at UCSD, “but I had a tough day Tuesday [after the bus trip].”

“I didn’t even go to work,” intones Pete Daly, 33, a builder.

The rest of the members guzzle and belch as the meeting gets down to serious business. First on the agenda is a discussion of the rugby teams OMBAC sponsors, and a new coach for the men’s team, a celebrated rugby expert who is moving here from New Zealand. The men’s rugby team, to which OMBAC appropriates $1000 a year, is considered one of the top five in the nation. Millenbah says the new coach needs a job and that one member who works for Foodmaker Corporation is going to try and get him a position with that company, which runs Jack-in-the-Box. Then he announces a bit of bad news. The women’s rugby team, OMBUSH, has just dropped OMBAC for another sponsor and more money. OMBAC was supplying the women’s team with $500 a year, but that had to be cut back recently due to budget tightening; the new sponsor will fund them to the tune of $3000.

Though few will admit to the real reasons, the loss of OMBUSH bothers several members of OMBAC. The women’s team helped serve a problem that has developed in just the last few years. Before this decade, few people noticed that OMBAC was strictly a men’s club, and even now members will act astonished when that fact is pointed out to them, as if it’s so fundamental it’s forgettable. Not too long ago, few people would deign to suggest there was anything remotely wrong about Millenbah stating at the board meeting, “Two ski trips proposed this year, one with cunt, one stag.” OMBAC wholeheartedly embraces a locker-room attitude toward women and sex, and OMBUSH served the convenient purpose of allowing the club to believe it was doing something in the name of womanhood, and to comfortably put feminist ranklings to rest.

The subject of women is touchy for most OMBAC members. One long-time member, John (JD) Dahlen, who owns Bully’s East and is a partner in the Old Town Mexican Café, wouldn’t even discuss the topic. “I won’t comment on women,” he said. “I run a business here that’s predicated on both women and men coming in. I’d hate to get disturbed by something you wrote about the club and women. I’d really hate to get disturbed about something like that.” Big, burly rugby man JD is not the kind of person one wants to disturb, but his edginess is a tip-off to the ambivalence of the club toward women. It’s not that the club has anything against women so much as it doesn’t have anything to do with women. Putting women down is a part of getting together with the boys. The men go to club meetings and outings to get away from their girlfriends, and to assume the locker-room mentality and lingo as a kind of release.

Melissa Hatcher, the only woman on OMBAC’s mailing list and the club’s barmaid for the last five years at its Monday night general meetings at the Bahia Hotel, says the club members have never been discourteous to her, and they always tip better than other groups. She says you can’t take their attitude toward women at face value; she has an understanding of this male urge to escape into another sphere where women just aren’t needed. “The language isn’t real crudity,” she says. “It would shock some people, but when you grow up around the beach…It’s a real male feeling here. It’s kind of like a brotherhood kind of thing.”

It’s an escape to a place where a tit is a tit, an ass is an ass; it’s a place where a woman we’ll call Rhonda can vow to debauch every member of the club – and nearly succeed. (At the last over-the-line tournament, she took on sixty-two OMBAC members in one weekend, by the club’s count, and she serviced many more over the next couple of weeks.) “The beach is a male-oriented place,” explains a patron of the Beachcomber who is not a member of the club. “Women aren’t well thought of. She might be their dearly beloved, but they’ll call her a cunt out in the open because that’s what’s expected.”

Women were purposely excluded from the beginning. “That’s just the way it developed and that’s the way it’ll stay, too,” declares Mike Curren, who increasingly finds himself in the position of vociferously having to protect the club’s traditional structure. In fact, no women have ever tried to join the club. “It just wouldn’t work as well,” he says, “you know that. That’s a dumb question. It’s hard enough to get along with one, let alone a bunch of them.”

“Women either understand us or don’t understand us,” offers Pete Daly. “If they don’t, they think we’re MCPs (male chauvinist pigs). If they do, they know we’re just having a good time and we’re gonna include ‘em anyway.”

The club’s real motto is “We never have any fun,” and it’s no exaggeration to say that having a good time is OMBAC’s major purpose and pastime. Back at the board meeting, business has been handled swiftly and democratically, if only because the time hashing out plans for the annual Christmas party, the ski trips, and the club excursions to Aztec football games is time spent not whooping it up. A break is called so a board member can go out and buy another round of drinks, and in the interim, Pete Daly is cajoled into telling the story about Ray Kennedy, the Sports Illustrated reporter who hung out with OMBAC last year while writing the story on San Diego as “Sports Town, U.S.A.”

“Yeah,” laughs Daly, not even having to warm up to it, “this reporter Kennedy, was shitfaced one night and we were talking about how they cornhole cows back East … “ The room erupts into giddy belly laughs. “And he told about these one-wing chickens they got back there…” He waits in order to be heard over the chatter and laughter. Standing up to demonstrate by pulling his arms back hard against his thrusting pelvis, Daly roars, “You ram a chicken on there and whack off one wing and tzzzzzz!” He twirls a finger in small circles to illustrate the way the chicken spins, and the pantomime brings utter chaos to the room again. “Never laughed so hard in my life!” he shouts above the convulsing mirth.

Herded in simultaneously with the new round of drinks is a prospective member of the club. George something or other, and he’s greeted with good natured back slapping to put him at ease. “Tell us about yourself, George,” says Millenbah.

“Well, I’m a transplanted Texan,” George begins. “I moved to Chulajuana. I’m your basic fisherman, out six months of the year. I’ve recently moved to Brighton Court. I’m divorced, one child, he’s twenty-three.”

“How do you think you can help OMBAC?” asks Millenbah.

“I don’t really know if I can, being out six months of the year. But while I’m in, yeah, I can help at all the functions.”

“Why do you want to join?” inquires Daly.

“I’ve been thinking about that. I’ve been drinking for free for about two years now.”

“Where do you drink?” someone cracks, prompting cackles.

“I mean drinking on the club. I’ve been helping out at a lot of functions.” (All OMBAC members who work at functions have their booze supplied by the club.)

“You fish south of here, don’t you George?” prods Jim Gandolphi.

“Yeah.”

“Drink a lot of rum?”

“Been known to.”

“Maybe you can make a rum run for us down there.”

“You be around December twenty-first?” asks Bob Grenci. George nods. “Be in charge of cleanup for the Christmas party?”

“Sure, I’m willing.”

Grenci, the club’s secretary, explains that the dues are ten dollars every six months and there’s a ten-dollar initiation fee. “So, it’ll be twenty bucks tonight if you get elected. But if you’re at the bar after this meeting with, let’s see…” He looks around the room tabulating drinks. “Two Coors, a Lite, two rum and cokes, and two Buds, you’ll be in.” George cracks up with everybody else. “But don’t think you can drink your way into this fucking club,” someone calls out, putting more strain on the group’s collective gut.

Actually, George is one of the last new members to go through the old method of getting into the club. For several years now there’s been a running controversy over the growing number of official members and the dearth of active participants. In just the last few years, after the over-the-line tournament netted national coverage in Sports Illustrated in 1975, there’s been a huge influx of men. From 110 members in 1977, the rolls have ballooned up to 190 today. But still only a handful of members, less than half, show up for all the meetings and end up doing most of the work. “All of a sudden, OMBAC’s legitimate; we’re not a bunch of drunks anymore, and all the carpetbaggers start jumping in,” snaps Bill Winship, an attorney and active member. “Our events have taken on national prestige, but people forget the only reason we got where we are is because people have worked very hard for free. I’m out there at the over-the-line tournament from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. every day that tournament is on, and I turn around and see these young kids drinking with their OMBAC jackets on, figuring it’s a gimmee, but it ain’t no gimmee. No one knows who you are, and no one cares. It’s 5:00 a.m. and now you gotta go out there and dig ditches. It takes special people, and we’re not finding a shitload of special people.”

OMBAC has refused membership to just one man, back in 1968. His name was Art Schultz, and he was turned down because he rode a motorcycle and wore the get-up of a hippie. Jocks hate hippies. But he was the only one ever turned away. As Royal (Weasel) Clarke says, pointing at the entrance to the Beachcomber, “We’ll take any asshole who walks through that door.”

But now OMBAC is giving itself the power to be more choosy about whom they take into the fold, and at the same time they are adding to the by-laws a clause that will allow the membership to actually eject someone from the club. In the future, prospective members will have to go in front of the board before they work the required two functions, so board members can get a hard look at them in action. Up until now all you had to do was work one function, attend three meetings, and go to the board for their automatic sanction. Today, you just might not be the kind of asshole they’re looking for.

It’s Sunday morning, and at the ocean end of San Gabriel Court, a hundred yards from the activity inside the Beachcomber, beach life goes on. A jogger pounds along the surf line, being overtaken and passed by a seagull flying the same route. Reclining figures are scattered here and there in the sand, their heads tilted back toward the sun, their golden arms slowly rubbing their golden legs. The volleyball nets, playerless, twang in the on-shore breeze as it gushes by to mingle with rock music eddying out of the beachfront houses. Slip-legged skaters move by, arms flailing; the bulging waves disintegrate into ivory; the sun bleeds the blue ocean toward indigo, turning it gray and then silver to the south. It seems unlikely that the OMBAC members heading for the Beachcomber this morning will take note of the peacefulness down here on the boardwalk. They are of it anyway; this their turf, it all belongs to them, the beach people, the men of OMBAC. But so does the Beachcomber.

Sunday is the busiest day at the Beachcomber, and it promises to be unusually busy this day because the Chargers are playing the Rams. Starting at about 10:00 a.m., when the Jets kick off to the Raiders in n earlier game, men begin trickling into the bar, and this steady stream will turn into a torrent as the clock approaches one, when the Rams kick off to the Chargers. Two color television sets, one at each end of the L-shaped room, rivet the eyes of about fifty patrons to the mashing and grunts of the football game. And also to the beer commercials. Between fifteen and twenty OMBAC members are among the crowd, which is generally T-shirted, short-panted, athletic-shod, and drunk, or in the club’s argot, shithouse mouse. The energy in the room detonates with each Charger show of prowess, which is often enough this afternoon. The crowd screams in triumph when defensive tackle Wilbur Young intercepts a Pat Haden fumble and scores a touchdown. They scream just as loudly on the replay.

The Beachcomber, which serves as OMBAC’s mailing address, is obviously a sports bar. Football schedules for the Chargers, Aztecs, USC, and others share wall space with hand-lettered signs, team photographs, and about a million instamatic shots from OMBAC functions. There is the obligatory foosball table and a pool table, and three small pinball machines (Playboy, Lost World, and Count Down). Behind the bar is a five-inch thick copy of The Baseball Encyclopedia. This all belongs to them, too, the men of OMBAC. T-shirts for sale announce on the chest: “Peter Longprong… Expert, plain, and fancy frigging.” The back of Bob Grenci’s shirt declares, “Boogie till ‘ya puke.” Others are in rugby shirts or OMBAC shirts or over-the-line shirts, and as the Chargers manhandle the Rams, the noise increases along with the bull. “… You take the back, see, use him as a rover, and then they don’t have any outside threat…” It’s the off-season for OMBAC, the next big event is the rugby tournament in January, but that doesn’t stop the hard core members from having a good time now. As the sun drops lower, the sand blows harder, and the crowd in the bar gets larger, everybody’s an expert at something, everybody’s a winner, everybody’s shithouse mouse.

But not everybody here is a member of OMBAC and not everybody is willing to let them have the beach. “No, they don’t dominate the beach,” says Ray, a patron of the Beachcomber who is not a member of the club. “It’s almost become a self-defeating thing – the bigger the functions get, the less beachness there is. The problem with OMBAC is they think that if something’s fun with ten people, it’ll be ten times as fun with a hundred people. They think the more the merrier, and I don’t believe that.” Still, they obviously have a good time, and it’s nearly impossible to meet a member who doesn’t say that fun is his major reasons for joining the club, such as the first couple of guys to show up for the most recent general meeting out at the Bahia. One, Fred Hill, who is fifty-eight, is probably the only member of the club who doesn’t drink. “I go for reality… reality period,” he says by way of explanation. “I like to have fun, and I like other people to have good, clean, fun. Too many people have the wrong concept about us. They think we’re a bunch of drunken, horny sonsabitches, and that’s true! It’s true! But we also do a lot of good for the community.” Ed LaGuardia, another member at the general meeting, parrots nearly the entire membership whe he says, “I’m not the joiner type. This is a let-your-hair-down kind of thing, where guys can say what they think.”

Shortly, a whole roomful of about forty nonjoiners is called to order by Chuck Millenbah. “Any guests, any guests?” he inquires. One man stands and says he’s a pipefitter at San Onofre. Another stands and says he’s a pipefitter at North Island. The group chuckles in anticipation of a wisecrack, and inevitably, a member stands and blurts, “Well, Joe here is a pipefucker.” It gets a token laugh and then business is taken up. Bob Frenci says that the board did not talk about the bus trip at last week’s board meeting, and then Millenbah says the Aztecs-BYU game will be the occasion of the club’s annual margarita party. “We elected a new member last week,” Millenbah announces. “Is George here?” He isn’t. “He quit,” someone calls out.

Millenbah brings up the matter of losing OMBUSH, and several men ask who the new sponsor is. “I don’t know,” answers Millenbah. “It’s a travel agency or a construction company or something, and he’s the boyfriend of one of the dykes – I mean girls – on the team.” Pulses of laughter spread through the room. After some other business is discussed, Don Peterson stands up to give a presentation on OMSKI, the annual ski trip to Park City. Someone yells, “Is Rhonda going?” and a chorus of voices echoes, “Rhonda! Rhonda!” amid knowing sniggers. Peterson continues, explaining that one trip is stag, and one is “BYDB.” “If a girl asks, it means bring your own dumb blonde,” explains Millenbah. “But it really means bring your own dirt bag!” shouts a member, prompting another wave of laughter.

After a long discussion of the details of dates and airlines, a late member walks into the room and Millenbah spots him. “Hey, it’s Bill Baker!” he announces. “Let’s give him a him!” In unison, forty men chant, “Himmm, himmm, fuck himmm!” The group yells for Baker to give a report of where he’s been (North Carolina), and after that and much laughter and carousing, and a little more business (no votes can be taken because they need about twice as many people for a quorum) and more drinking, the club calls on Pete Daly to give a report on last week’s bus trip. As an introduction, Millenbah says, “I have not been that fucked up in I don’t know when. Goddamn queers are something else,” On his way up to the microphone, the club gives Pete a limp-wristed, Brucey voiced, “Himmm, himmm, suck himmm!” which is obviously a holdover from the bus trip. Pete, fraught with mirth, grabs the mike. His words pour out excitedly. “… So we get to the Brass Rail and Buddy, our host, couldn’t stand it. I tell him, ‘Buddy you gotta have a lotta Bacardi, and halfway through the evening, you gotta say, ‘Anybody who can’t tap dance…’”

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