Cowboy Caviar

I hit two parties in one day. The first was an afternoon affair in PB. A guy named Bruce wanted to get rid of a bunch of Rocky Mountain oysters, or as he called them, "bulls' balls." Bruce and his friends were raising money for the VFW, which is where the party took place. I watched as the guys deep-fried the testicles. A cook asked me if I'd have any of the "Montana tender groin." I said, "No way. This is a party, not an episode of Fear Factor."

I met a German guy who everyone said was a great cook. He made tongue at the last party they had. I told him, "I won't eat anything that's already been in another mouth."

A few people talked about the weird foods they tried. Abalone, snail, and frogs' legs were at the top of the lists.

Bruce felt guilty that I wasn't going to be eating the "cowboy caviar," so as I sipped my drink, he went in the back and made me the best corned beef sandwich I'd ever had. The guy who cooked the corned beef said that he uses a pressure cooker, which makes it tender, and that he adds a lot of garlic.

Bruce explained that he got the Rocky Mountain oysters from a butcher in town. "Usually they use calves instead of the bull, because those are the size of walnuts. These are huge."

I overheard a few guys who were drinking talk about being "functioning alcoholics." One said, "Bode Miller, that Olympic skier, he's an alcoholic. Not a functioning one, though. Idiot didn't win a single medal. What a waste!"

I watched as chips and sandwich meat were put out on a table. Bruce saw how many people were going to that table and said, "Wow, those non-organ meats seem to go fast."

A vegetarian woman said, "I don't even eat the normal parts of an animal."

One woman sipped a gin and tonic. I asked if that drink went well with the bull meat. She said, "Oh, no, I'm not touching those." Bruce came over and convinced her to try one. She said, "It's good." I asked why she made a weird face as she chewed it. Her friend was laughing and had one in her hand, but chickened out. (Speaking of chicken, a few people said the oysters tasted like chicken strips.)

I asked two women who showed up together where they worked. They told me that they care for mentally retarded patients at ARC. They called it "assisted living." I asked how accurate people with that disability are portrayed in movies. "Juliette Lewis was high-functioning, but the guy she was with in that movie, he was low-functioning. Those two would never have been together. That doesn't work."

They told me some heartbreaking stories, such as the patients who don't have family who visit, but the stories made the job sound rewarding.

One guy was cracking "bull ball jokes." He rattled off ten different names for them and told a guy at the bar he's had "more balls on his chin than a seal at SeaWorld."

I talked to a guy named Jack, a Pearl Harbor survivor, who told me this story: "I was a kid. I lived near Battleship Row, where the Arizona was. The windows got knocked out of our house. My sister got hit, but not bad. She was eight years old. Everything was full of shrapnel. We were there for two months, and then they shipped us all to San Francisco."

I asked him how scared he was when this was happening, and he said, "I was so young, and it's hard to explain war to a kid. I just heard a lot of explosions. I was interviewed for a TV show about it, though."

As I headed off to go to the next party, I glanced over and saw that there were still several untouched oysters.

* * * One of the guys I had met at the corn dog party the week prior invited me to a party near UCSD in La Jolla. When I arrived, I met an interesting character who called himself Duff Norway. He explained that that was his "Michael Vick name." Vick is an NFL player who went to Mexico and gave a woman herpes. Vick told the woman that his name was Ron Mexico. So, this guy sometimes goes by the name Duff Norway. Norway told me he likes to go to protests and hold up signs that don't make sense. When the UCSD campus had meetings about the pornography that was shown on the TV station, he held a sign that read, "Porn is murder." People didn't know which side of the protest he was on. Norway said, "It's funnier when people come up and say, 'Right on! I totally support you.'"

He told me another story about his brother buying Olympic jackets. Three of them went into a bar in Idaho wearing the jackets, and everyone there assumed they were on the Olympic team. The bartender was bringing them pitchers of beer for free. "Women who would never have paid attention to us started flirting. One asked me what advice I could give her daughter. I said, 'Uh...be all that you can be'." Someone said, "That's a military cliché, not a sports cliché." Norway laughed and continued, "Another woman was in tears, saying it was her dream to make the Olympics and asked who she could talk to. They wanted pictures of us for the wall, even though we said we were just hockey coaches."

I heard another guy approach a woman and say, "Let's talk literature, shall we?" It sounded geeky, but these were UCSD students. That's probably a good opening line.

A guy named Jeremy who had become an ordained minister on-line introduced me to a friend whose wedding he had performed. I asked Jeremy what he wore. "I initially wanted a pope hat or to wear all black. I ended up going with just a suit."

He told me anyone in California can become a minister, because the state can't debate what is a "real religion." He said, "It's the Universal Life Church. They had two creeds and I agreed with both. Had it said something crazy like they believe in animal sacrifice, I probably wouldn't have done it."

I told him about the party I had just come from.

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

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