The Bear of Lemon Grove

I went to two parties in Lemon Grove. Sam threw the first one. His guests were all over 40. The second party, a crew in their early 20s, was hosted by Dave. This was my night with Sam and Dave. Sam's party started in the late afternoon, and I arrived in time for the catered BBQ food. He asked if I could mention the name of the place in La Mesa that it came from. I laughed and said, "Not unless those guys are offering to cater a big party for me." Sam offered me smoked brisket, and I asked what a brisket was -- I don't cook and I'd never had one. Five guys had trouble explaining what cut of meat brisket was from.

I met a Latino couple who had been married for 30 years. I asked them how they were able to stay together for so long, and the husband told me, "I listen to everything she says. She's the boss." His wife smiled and rolled her eyes. He later told me, when he found out that I crash parties, that he used to crash weddings. He said it wasn't like the movie Wedding Crashers. "Sure, you sometimes met women. But we were more interested in the free meal."

I went over to talk to another group when I overheard someone say that they had seen a coyote in the street the other day. Another guy said, "Does anyone remember that bear? It bit both arms off a person in Lemon Grove." I wasn't sure if he meant the bear was in Lemon Grove or if the person was a resident of Lemon Grove. Someone else chimed in, "That would be a horrible way to die. Or did he die? I guess if I lost both my arms, I wouldn't want to live. I couldn't play guitar or do much of anything."

The conversation then turned to preferred ways to die. One person said, "A meteor hitting me. That would be cool."

A guy with long hair said, "Drugs. A drug overdose." Someone asked him which drugs, and he had a Mona Lisa smirk on his face as he thought about it for a couple minutes.

That conversation was morbid, so I approached a woman who was talking about hydrotherapy. She said, "Everyone should do it. It's great. And, you can write it off on your taxes."

Another lady was talking about how she had been married to two different millionaires. I said, "I'd be happy marrying one." Someone asked her about how much money and property she got in the divorce. She said she didn't ask for a lot, that money isn't important to her. I'll remember to say the same thing if I meet a rich woman.

There was a limo driver at Sam's party who told interesting stories. I asked him if he ever worked for the woman who married the two millionaires. He laughed and said, "Hey, I went to the craziest party once. Do you want to hear about it?" (Since I write about parties, I think it's my job to listen, just as psychiatrists have to listen to people's problems.)

He told me that he grew up in San Diego and was a drummer in 37 bands. One of those bands was hired to play at a house party in La Jolla. The party was for nudists. He said, "It was crazy, because everyone was walking around naked. What I couldn't figure out was, for a crowd walking around with no clothes, no purses, no wallets...we got a lot of tips that night." The woman who was hosting the party convinced him to take off his clothes and he did, before jumping into the pool. He said his girlfriend showed up, and he rushed to get dried off and dressed before she saw him.

Another story that would only happen to a musician: he once fell asleep under a stack of Marshall amplifiers. An earthquake woke him up, and he was able to avoid being crushed by the Marshall stack.

We talked about local bands, and he brought up Mickey Ratt, who went on to become famous as Ratt. He told me, "I was asked to join their band, but I didn't." I asked him why and told him that, as a drummer, he is now the Pete Best (the Beatles' original drummer) of San Diego. He said, "Yeah, I regret it."

I met a guy who owned a hearse. He showed me pictures of his long black car and said, "It had mirrored ceilings, which was great for when we had girls in the car. I think the only girls you'd be able to get into it today would be Goth chicks." I said, "Yeah, that is kind of creepy. But if you are in a car accident, it's convenient. They can just throw your body in the back."

Sam had been swimming between getting food and drinks for his guests, so I didn't have a chance to talk to him much. When he got out of the pool, I noticed he had what looked like stitches on his chest. Someone mentioned them, and I was shocked when Sam said he probably wouldn't live past 60, because of his weight and his heart.

* * * "Dude, things don't usually start happening at my parties until about midnight." I glanced at my watch, and it was 9:45 p.m. Dave and his friend lit up a joint and passed it around. I grabbed a Pepsi and said, "I know you told me the party was starting at ten, but I was in the neighborhood at another party."

A surfer with long blond hair asked, "What was happening there?"

"We talked about the best way to die. Someone mentioned being struck by a meteor."

The surfer said, "That shit would hurt, bro! I wouldn't mind having some big-ass wave crush me out in the water. It would have to be huge, though. And in some exotic country I'm surfing in." I asked him about dying from a shark attack, and he said, "If a great white just swallowed me, I'd be cool with that. I just don't want to lose my arms, and then I'd be trying to kick back to shore, and I'd see blood going everywhere."

I asked them, "Did you hear about the bear that took the arms off someone in town?"

They hadn't. Dave said, "When chicks get here, we need better conversation than this. Talking about maiming and death ain't gonna get anyone laid."

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

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