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Surprise Ending

I went to a party last year when local author Jennifer Coburn released her first book, The Wife of Reilly. I was surprised when she had a party for her next book, Reinventing Mona, coming out one year later. I met a cute redhead named Shelley at a concert in Los Angeles the week before. She lived in Orange County but wanted to come down to go to this event and any other parties I had to attend that night. And I was happy to bring her. She had been sick all week and mentioned mingling with literary types in an art gallery (the party was at Gallery 504 in North Park). I was going to make sure we wouldn't get stuck in any conversation that was over our heads.

The first thing I saw when I walked in was a man in an angel suit with desserts. Jennifer said, "There's also a devil serving sinful desserts and heavenly sweets. It's funny when they were watching the harpist." I heard someone say that Maria (the harpist) was playing a harp that cost $50,000. I thought that if I spent that much on something to play at a party, it better also be able to drive me home from the party.

I ran into Milo, a nice guy I only seem to see at parties. I introduced him to Shelley, and he said, "You have a different date than you did last year." I thought that was a little better than if he had said a different date than I had last night.

The two hostesses of the party were dressed up, since the book is about a woman who reinvents herself. Joan Isaacson was dressed as the Good Witch of the North. Audrey Jacobs was dressed as a porn star in a blond wig with a name tag that said "L.A. Woman." Because I had had a few glasses of wine, I thought it would be funny to ask, "Does the carpet match the drapes?" She said, in that Valley Girl voice, "I don't know what you're talking about. I have hardwood floors."

Another lady there was dressed as a desperate housewife. There were two gay guys in matching rhinestone-studded tuxedoes, and a few other guests portrayed characters in the book. Jennifer told me, "Several of the Del Cerro soccer moms were there 'as they are' but in real life have reinvented themselves as soccer players, joining the moms' league after years of watching from the sidelines."

Apparently Jennifer had joined, too. When she got to the microphone to read from her book, she complained of a knee injury from a recent soccer game.

The chapter she read was hysterical. Mona hires a columnist who's a male chauvinist pig to tell her what men like. Learning a little about college basketball was enough to get her date excited, until she confused a coach for a player. It was hysterical. It was also funny when Jennifer had a Freudian slip. The line she was reading was about a coach "pulling out the big win." She read it as "pulling out the big one."

There were two different lawyers at the party. I was told one of them was Jim McElroy, who won that $12 million judgment against white supremacist Tom Metzger. I asked Jennifer about him, thinking I'd hear some crazy Klan stories. She said, "That red hat he was wearing I bought for him."

Women and clothing. I wanted courtroom drama, not fashion tips.

She continued, "After seeing him in the identical black cap for years, I finally broke down and got him a red one, saying, 'Get a new fucking hat already!'"

When I heard someone mention Jennifer's first book was being made into a film, she told me, "Jim helped me with the contract for the film-rights option for Wife of Reilly."

I asked what it means to option and she explained, "It basically means the rights were bought to make a movie, to adapt it into a screenplay. They have the rights for 18 months."

I asked how that came about and was told, "Cara Di Bona was in Barnes & Noble and saw the book, read it, and loved it. She told her dad he must option it. Vin Di Bona Productions then optioned it. Whether it ever becomes a movie remains to be seen, but the first step is done."

It reminded me of the hit song "Mickey" by Toni Basil. A record-company bigwig had the cassette in his car and didn't care for it, but his kids loved the song's cheerleader chant. He figured other kids would like it, so they released it as a single and it went to number one. I'm sure Jennifer's book will have the same luck. It was hysterical.

Shelley and I took one last look around the art gallery, trying to figure out some abstract pieces. One mirror had paint all over it, and she said, "If my daughter did that at home, I'd tell her to clean the mess off the mirror." As we walked out the door, we saw two nudes with hearts in between their legs. We shook our heads and headed to Clairemont for our second party.

It wasn't abstract art I tried to figure out at this party. It was the lyrics to some reggae songs, the drugs some people were on, and why a blonde woman wouldn't leave me alone. More on that later.

One band was putting their instruments in their car as we walked up. I said, "You guys are going the wrong way." The guy with the keyboards said, "We just finished, but another band is going on next."

That band was called Crazy Bald Heads. It was only 15 minutes until we got to hear Loose Cannon. They played under a basketball hoop in the back yard. They had blue tarps set up in case it rained.

The yard had a swimming pool, so there wasn't a lot of room to stand, and it was very crowded near the band. Since Shelley is only five feet tall, I don't think she could see much. I thought it was hysterical to see a bunch of girls standing a few feet in front of a loud band but still trying to talk on their cell phones. I don't think putting a finger in the other ear helped much.

I was talking with Christopher Rodeno, who works for A&R Productions. He arranged for the bands to play here. I asked if it was just reggae music he produced and he said, "No, we have a wide spectrum of music."

We went inside to one room that had a Ping-Pong table. There were lots of cups of beer on it, and at one point, someone hit the Ping-Pong ball into the beer. He then told his friend, "You got to down that now, dude!"

I thought of a comedian who recently said, "What do you think the smartest thing someone has ever said with the word 'dude' in it?" That line probably isn't a contender.

I met one of the hosts' neighbors. He said, "I'm so glad these guys moved here. They don't complain when I have parties, and I come over here when they have parties."

Shelley said, "There doesn't seem to be much pot here for a reggae party." A guy named Bo came out of nowhere and showed us his stash. He said, "I just didn't bring anything to smoke it with. Whenever I have a pipe with me, I have bad luck with the cops. Now I can't find anyone with a pipe."

After standing in line behind ten other people for the bathroom downstairs, we decided to try upstairs. We passed a Dalai Lama poster on the wall and found the door was locked. We knocked, and a guy sitting on the floor, totally out of it, asked what we wanted. He said, "There's a bathroom downstairs." He slammed the door. I thought pot was supposed to make people happy. I wanted to shout, "Where's the love? What's with the hostility, man?"

I knocked again and a girl answered. She said, "You can use the bathroom, but there's no toilet paper." Shelley went in and came back saying, "It was filthy in there, so I didn't go." When the door opened, a haze of marijuana smoke came billowing out.

When we walked back downstairs, people now had a joint going in the Ping-Pong room. It was starting to look like an authentic reggae party.

I met a waitress from Trophy's named Kris. I told her, "When I ate there, I was amazed that the waitresses can write their names upside down on the tablecloth." She said, "Yeah, that took me two days to learn. One time it confused a guy, who kept saying, 'What is 'Sirk'?"

Bo came over and offered us a beer. He told me that a local microbrewery had supplied six kegs. He tried to hand Shelley a beer. She whispered to me, "I'm afraid to drink anything a person here offers me."

She told me that, as she walked out of the kitchen, one Mexican guy grabbed her, saying, "Hey, you're hot." I wondered if that line works at parties.

As Bo continued to tell us how great the beer was, a guy came over in a panic. He was holding a beer tap, saying, "We just finished the third keg. And I can't find the other keg! Where are the other kegs?" Bo quickly left to track them down.

We went into the living room. There were lots of empty bottles of booze that people had finished. I saw a beautiful aquarium. I wondered if the homeowners worried that after a party like this they might wake with a Jack Daniel's bottle floating in there -- or a dirty shoe.

From the living room, I glanced around at the crowd. A girl was drinking champagne out of a bottle. A few guys were carrying around 40-ouncers. A black guy was trying to look cool with a toothpick in his mouth and gold chains around his neck.

The cops showed up around midnight, and everyone came into the house trying to be quiet. Bo got a call and said, "Screw the cops, come on in. The party crasher dude is here." He then handed me the phone to try to convince her. I made a joke about Bo being so drunk he did some sexual things to me. She then asked, "Is it okay to walk right past the cops?" I told her other people were.

Her name was Diane, and she was with a friend. Bo kept his arms around them for a few minutes, and I said he looked like a pimp. He said, "At the New Year's party here, I was wasted on ecstasy. I walked into one room, and there were five people having sex. This big orgy. It was so wild."

He then told us a list of the drugs he had tried and said something about rap music. I said, "Let's hear your freestyle." He said, "Give me a beat." I thought it would be silly for me to start making noises with my mouth, so a drummer friend of his started playing. Bo then went into this long rap that had us laughing.

A man who looked to be in his early 20s then sat down next to us on the couch. He was pissed that the cops had given him a ticket. "They are supposed to give you one oral warning first. Then the second time they come back, that's when you get a ticket. Those cops just went right to the ticket without a warning."

As Shelley and I were getting ready to leave, a blonde woman I hadn't talked to all night started telling me I couldn't write about her being at the party. She said she worked in the legal department for some company and she could lose her job. I told her I wouldn't mention her. She went on and on about the ramifications of it all, and I told her I didn't even know her name. She then told me her name.

When I started taking pictures, I took one of her on the couch with some guys. She said, "You can't use my picture. Wait a minute. Let me see it first."

I showed it to her and she said, "Okay, I look good in that. You can use it." I told her I take lots of pictures and never know which ones will be used.

As we left, I was surprised by the number of people in the front yard, on the driveway, and on the sidewalk. I knew it was only a matter of time before the cops showed up again.

The blonde woman then ran outside saying, "I changed my mind. Don't use that picture of me."

I told her I wouldn't, and she followed me down the sidewalk, repeating what she'd already told me. I assured her that I wouldn't use her name or picture in the story. After 15 minutes of talking, I told her nicely, "We have to go now. Shelley was sick all week, and we're cold standing out here." She said, "I hope you don't think I'm a bitch or anything. I'm just protecting my job." I said, "Yeah, I know. It's cool."

We walked half a mile down the dark street to my car. Shelley said, "I can't believe you kept talking to her. I would've been done with her after the first few minutes."

I turned my car around, and as I was heading down the street, the blonde walked over to my car with a group of guys. One stood in front of my car with his hand behind his back. She came to my window and yelled, "Get out of the car!" I told her no. She yelled again, "Get out of the car!" The guy in front of me said, "Get out of the car, motherfucker!" I figured he had a gun behind his back, but Shelley told me she thought it was a beer. I contemplated running him over and peeling out of there. Another car came up behind us and honked. The guy yelled, "You can go around us!"

I rolled the window down a bit and said, "Listen, we aren't going to mention you in the story." She said, "Hand the pictures over." I said, "I can't do that. I need them for my story." The guy said, "Give her the fucking pictures!" Now this was starting to look like a scene from a James Bond movie.

I realized the camera was in the back seat and told her I'd have to get it. I got out of the car, more pissed than scared. I took the camera and showed her the pictures. When I got to her picture, I hit Delete. Then she wanted me to go through all the photos again just to check. The battery was about ready to die, and I thought that if it did, these thugs would just want to take the camera. Luckily, this fine Sony product made it through all 15 photos. Now this blonde woman started apologizing. I ignored her, got in my car, and started to move forward. The guy in front of my car said something to her, and she nodded her head. He then moved out of the way to let me by.

Shelley didn't seem as worried as I did. She simply said, "This is what you do on weekends?"

Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Josh Board.

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