Having covered ‘50s and ‘60s theme parties the past two weeks, it seemed appropriate to jump to a ‘70s bash at the VFW hall in Pacific Beach.
Coincidentally, I went to a going-away party at a VFW hall in Vista earlier in the day.
Grace, who invited me to the Vista affair, said, “You wrote about my party once...when I renewed my wedding vows.” I remembered that party; it was at a ranch for their ten-year anniversary. “So, where’s your husband?” I asked, but as soon as the words left my mouth, I realized there was probably a reason he wasn’t there. She smiled and said, “We’re divorced now. He left me in the middle of the night. I got up and didn’t know what had happened to him. I called the police, and there was a big search party, with helicopters flying over Vista. None of his stuff was gone. It was all so weird. When I found out he wasn’t dead, I called off the search party. I had to tell them, ‘He’s not dead. He just left me. Our marriage is dead, I guess.’”
I asked Grace if that’s why she was moving away. She told me that it wasn’t; she was going to Washington to be closer to her kids.
The DJ, Donovan, was encouraging people to dance. There was one senior citizen who wouldn’t get off the dance floor, and he was cutting a rug (well, hardwood floor). The crowd enjoyed watching him.
I went to grab a piece of cake and saw a table full of retired Marines. One had a shirt that read, “When it absolutely has to be destroyed overnight.”
One Marine had a huge plate of food and looked at me sheepishly and said, “It’s not for me. It’s for that woman on the dance floor.”
There was spaghetti being served inside and barbecued chicken being cooked on the outdoor patio. When I stepped out for a cigar, I heard an old man singing as he took out his wallet to pay for his food. “What did you do with the money your mom gave you?” I joked. He replied, “My mom is long gone. What money are you referring to?” I said, “The money she gave you for singing lessons?” He smiled and said, “I spent it at Chuck E. Cheese!”
I overheard someone say that this was a fund-raising lunch for military dependents and eye care. I didn’t ask for an explanation because to Grace it was like a going-away party for her.
As I smoked, an older Marine with a hat that read “Al” walked by. He stopped and talked to another guy about women. At one point I overheard him say, “Don’t even get into it about women. That’s why I’m not married.”
When the DJ played the Paul Simon song “You Can Call Me Al,” I said, “Hey, they’re playing your song.” He just scowled at me as he walked by. My girlfriend said, “I don’t think he likes you much,” and she started laughing. He then looked at her and said, “Are you laughing at something?”
She said, “Is he talking to us?” I was confused at this point. He then said, “Yeah, that’s what I thought. You better shut up!” Now I started laughing. My girlfriend didn’t know what was going on. And I’m not sure Al did either. I guess he felt as if we were making fun of him. I said to my girlfriend, “Ya know, he’s a Marine. And most Marines could probably take me in a fight. But he’s older. Should I go shut him up?” She smiled and said, “Why don’t you go get me a piece of cake instead.”
Leaving Vista behind, we called up some friends and invited them to the ‘70s party at the VFW in P.B.
Our friend Joey dressed in a stylish suit and had a cane with a lion’s head. The lion had a diamond in its mouth. Joey also wore a wrestling mask over his head, and though he explained the significance of it, it made little sense to me. Though our friend Bonnie looked great in her outfit, it didn’t look very ‘70s.
I wore the same shirt I wore to the ‘60s party a week earlier. It was covered with small orange and blue flowers, and I wore it with the first four buttons undone and several necklaces draped across my chest, which occasionally pulled out a hair or two.
As we walked in, the Bee Gees blasted from the sound system. I noticed trophies on the bar for the best-dressed man and woman. One of the party organizers showed them to me. They were handmade and freshly painted silver.
He started to explain how the party was going to be at his house, but he thought it would be a hassle to clean up. And it was a lot cheaper not to have to supply all the booze.
An older guy at the bar, who looked as if he had been drinking for a while, called me over. He said, “You aren’t dressed ‘70s; that shirt is from the ‘60s.” I laughed and said, “Yeah, I know. But, hey, I’m not going to go out and buy a white suit like Travolta had.” He then started pointing at various people at the party. He said, “That guy over there...he’s wearing a shirt from the ‘60s, too. And that woman...she has on a ‘50s-style skirt.”
For a while, the dance floor, with its spinning disco ball, had no one on it. Stephanie made the rounds trying to get people to dance.
When “Boogie Oogie Oogie” started, two couples went out to dance. One of the couples couldn’t finish the song and went back to their table.
Joey got hot wearing his wrestling mask and pulled it off and put it in his back pocket. We saw a guy dressed as Elvis, and we asked him about his wardrobe. Joey said, “Those glasses look good on you. I mean, they probably only cost $10, and you rock ‘em.”
One guy who had on a crazy outfit told me about decorating for the party. He said most places don’t sell strobe lights because people can have seizures from them. I noticed that they had laser-style lights shining on the walls.
“Did you buy that outfit just for this party?” I asked the guy. “No, I already owned this. The shoes were all I had to buy.” I glanced down and saw that they were shiny and white. “They were $30 at Buffalo Exchange in Hillcrest,” he informed me.
I said, “Hey, my girlfriend and I were there today looking for accessories for our outfits.”
I then remembered the woman in the store talking about her 21st birthday party that night. I asked her if I could crash it, and she said, “Why?”
When I told her that I write about parties, the guy behind her in line said, “Are you Josh? You crashed a party I had for my dog a few years ago.” This got the woman excited. She took my number and said she’d call.
I glanced down at my cell phone. It was nearing midnight, and I still hadn’t heard from her.