There's a joke with my male friends about wedding invitations. Men hate to get them. Women love 'em. Men know it means getting dressed up, wearing a tie, and probably missing a football game. Women are excited and look forward to buying a new dress to wear, only to bitch later to us men that another woman has a similar dress — or worse, that a woman is getting married and it's not her. Then the questions pop up: "You know, they are getting married after only dating for ten months. We've been together for two years."
The invitation I got for this mock wedding/book-launch party was from Jennifer Coburn, the local author of the novel The Wife of Reilly. And when I got a call from Milo Shapiro, an interesting guy I met at a party months ago, I was really looking forward to this event.
The premise of the book is that a lady wants to leave her husband but figures it would be easier for him if she found a replacement wife. She places personal ads and meets interesting characters along the way.
When we walked into Gallery 504 in North Park, a photographer took my date's picture. He immediately put the snapshot on a board with lots of other pictures. As in the book, this was supposed to be the women that would be available for "Reilly." Some had written things on their pictures like "Married, but..." Another guy wrote on his wife's photo, "Don't even think about it!"
Downstairs, the gallery was filled with African paintings. An African-American woman had jewelry that was made out of utensils. My date was looking at a necklace made out of a spoon. Somebody walked by and said,
"You can wear it and eat soup with it."
We grabbed some wine and headed upstairs. There were a lot of colorful abstract paintings on the walls and at least 200 people stuffed in the room. There was wedding cake and champagne. A few women showed up in wedding gowns.
People kept asking Jennifer to sign books. One guy was carrying around ten copies that he had bought. Finally I was able to talk to her. She has written for a number of magazines and has ghostwritten some books.
This is her first novel. She said, "I got the idea when one of my friends was looking at buying a place. She noted that the place next door would be perfect for her husband." I asked, "So your husband doesn't think you had the idea to replace him?" She told me he was with her when she was writing the book and said, "Half of the dates that are in this book are real ones that I've heard about from friends.”
I asked if, while writing, she ever saw anything that was similar to what she was working on, like an episode of Sex and the City or some film. Jennifer said, "Actually, there was an episode of Sex and the City in which they had a party where you bring your ex."
Jennifer excitedly told me, "I know in your column about parties you have to write weird things people say. Well, somebody came over and asked me if I had hair extensions. I thought that was weird. You can write about that if you want." I told her, "It would've been better if she had asked you if you had fake breasts." She responded, "I wish somebody would say that. That would mean they think these breasts look good."
As I was walking away, a lady grabbed me. She had just moved here from Oregon. She said, "I was pissed you walked in front of me when I was waiting to talk to Jennifer. But somebody said you work for the Reader, I love the Reader.” We ended up talking for about ten minutes while my date sat at the other end of the room. It caused a big fight for us. She wanted me to drive her home, but I still had another party to go to. She didn't care. So I drove up to Poway to drop her off, then on to Shelter Island.
I had heard about this party at the Sheraton Hotel. There would only be about ten people. They wanted to party before and after the Dragons gig at the Casbah. I was stoked because I like the Dragons. And when I started writing this "Crasher" column, the first party I went to made me miss Lucy's Fur Coat and Marshall Crenshaw playing the same night at the Casbah. It was nice to be going to a party that centered around this great dive bar on Kettner Boulevard.
Only two people were there when I arrived. Apparently five of the people going to this party saw a better party going on down the hall at the hotel.
The dresser had lots of booze piled on top of it. Another table had boxes of Rice Krispie treats. I asked about them and one woman said, "At the last party I had, my friend Brent smoked a lot of weed. He got the munchies really bad and ended up eating an entire box of my Rice Krispie treats. I gave him shit about that, so he brought two boxes of them to this party. But now he's down the hall at some other party." I grabbed a beer and looked at the beautiful view of the water out the hotel window. Since there were only two people here, I decided to go check out the party down the hall.
As I walked out the door, I heard what was a large commotion. A blonde who looked to be in her early 20s was walking by crying. There were groups of people holding two people apart. One of them had a bloody face. I went in to get my camera, but when I came back out to the hall, everyone was gone. Security had come up and the crowd scattered. I saw they had broken the mirror in the elevator, and there were bloody tissues in the hallway and elevator. As we stopped to look at the results of the melee, somebody walked by and said, "I wish hotel guests would stop leaving their tampons everywhere."
The Dragons were already playing when we got to the show. They were doing a great version of the Ramones' "Rock 'n' Roll High School," and a mosh pit was going. An older guy got bumped, and I saw an earplug pop out of his head. Security ended up throwing two people out, and the moshing subsided.
The lady from our party was getting pretty drunk. She had downed some booze at the hotel and was pounding down beers at the Casbah. She grabbed two Asian women who were sitting at a table and made them dance to a cover of the Stones' "Start Me Up."
She later started talking to a guy who was a telemarketer. I heard him say, "Sometimes when we call people, they just hang up. But the other day, I had this woman who said she was in her 40s and really horny. She wanted me to keep talking about refinancing your home, and she was taking care of herself while I did. It was bizarre, but everyone else that worked with me was jumping on the phone to listen."
I saw Derek Plank, who takes music photos for the Reader. He and I talked a bit. When I was leaving to drive back to the Sheraton, he and his date were waiting for a cab. I offered to give them a ride. As we walked back to the car I had just bought a few days before, I noticed the lady from our party had invited eight others to come back to the Sheraton and party. I told them they wouldn't all fit in the car, and they said they could sit on each other's laps. It looked like a game of Twister gone awry. I thought of those stunts where you try to fit as many people as you can into a phone booth.
I asked Derek for directions on how to get back to his place but could barely hear his muffled voice underneath the bodies that were on top of him. I was getting pissed. An expensive cigar I had in my pocket had broken in half (note to self: stop putting cigars in my pocket, then complaining when they snap in half). Now I envisioned the interior of my car having footprints everywhere but the floor.
I dropped them all off at the hotel and quickly left.
The next day, I got a few phone calls. One guy had left his hat in my car. Another woman left her purse with $160 in it.
And my date was still pissed at me.