I got an invite to an ‘80s party and figured that’d wrap up these decade-themed events. I assumed nobody would have a ‘90s-themed party; I’m not even sure how I’d dress for something like that.
The ‘80s bash was in Pacific Beach, and I was told to dress up or be denied entrance.
Growing up, everyone told me that I resembled Judge Reinhold, best known for his ‘80s roles in Beverly Hills Cop and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I figured the only way anyone would guess who I was trying to be was if I wore the pirate hat Reinhold wore in Fast Times.
Despite my pirate hat and fast-food shirt, my girlfriend said nobody would know who I was.
When I walked into the party, it was quiet. I knew they’d be screening ‘80s flicks, but I didn’t think the crowd would be sitting around the TV watching them. They were watching Repo Man, one of the few ‘80s movies I hadn’t seen.
One guy told me that he was at the premiere of that movie when it came out. He started to tell me about it, but someone told us to quiet down so he could hear the movie.
A woman came over and asked me what the deal was with the pirate hat. I said, “Okay, well, my girlfriend said nobody would know who I was, so let me say his catchphrase from Fast Times: ‘I shall serve no fries before their time.’”
Everyone looked confused. I said another line from the film, and a guy said, “Oh, yeah. You’re that dude. Uh, from that movie...with Sean Penn.” I looked at my girlfriend, pleased that I was proving her wrong, that someone knew who I was supposed to be. She said, “Yeah, well, that’s one person out of the ten standing here. And you had to say the name of the movie.”
I saw a crowd in the back yard and figured it would be better to talk to people out there and not worry about having to be quiet for the people watching Repo Man.
I approached a guy who was about 6’9” and asked him if he played basketball. “No. I ran track-and-field in high school.” I said, “The basketball coach there must’ve been pissed.”
I told him about a guy I once met at a party who was about his height. When I asked that guy if he played basketball, he said, “Why, because I’m tall and black?” I said, “Uh, yeah.” He laughed and then told me that he played college ball. I told him how I’d read in Wilt Chamberlain’s biography that Wilt hated when people asked him that or clichés, like “How’s the weather up there?” The guy smiled and said, “I realize people probably don’t normally see a guy my height, so they ask those questions. It doesn’t bother me much. Sometimes I’ll joke about it. If someone asks if I play basketball, I say, ‘No, I’m a jockey.’ A few times, people believed me.”
When we talked about his high school track team, he mentioned someone on his team winning a silver medal in the hurdles at the Sydney Olympics. “He also made it to the Olympics in Atlanta. Remember, the one that was bombed?” I said, “Yeah, why? Did he bomb them?”
As I was walking away to talk to others, he told me the guy’s name was Mark Career. I wondered if I should Google it. I also wondered if he was saying his name was Mark and something about his career and I just didn’t hear him properly. I wasn’t concerned enough to ask him to clarify.
I heard a few people talking about a Bauhaus concert. I told them that I thought that band was overrated, and we had a small debate about it. Someone mentioned seeing New Order in concert and how horrible it was. I asked if they’d assembled any ‘80s songs for the party and was told they’d be sticking with ‘80s movies.
We talked about our favorite ‘80s films. Someone mentioned Breakfast Club. One guy said, “I just don’t think it’s realistic. Would those guys all have become friends?” There was a disagreement as to whether or not Pretty in Pink was any good. We all agreed, however, that Ferris Bueller ruled. Someone else mentioned Valley Girl and how weird Nicolas Cage was in that. I asked, “Why is it that when people talk about ‘80s movies it’s always the John Hughes–type films? Nobody mentions a scary movie such as Poltergeist. Or adventures such as Raiders of the Lost Ark. Nobody mentions classics like Raging Bull.”
Someone said, “I think that was a ‘70s movie.” I replied, “I think it’s 1980. But, my point is, for some reason, ‘80s films have just come to mean those romantic comedies that John Hughes did.”
I told them that I just saw Say Anything a few years back for the first time and that I thought it was overrated. They all loved it and told me I was crazy. A woman mentioned another ‘80s movie John Cusack was in with a kid trying to collect money for his newspaper route. The kid followed Cusack around saying, “I want my two dollars.” We all remembered the scene but couldn’t remember the name of the movie. Someone said, “It couldn’t have been very good if you guys can’t remember the title.” Another guy said, “No, it was great. They had these Asian guys in a car who talked like Howard Cosell through a big speaker. They’d challenge other cars to races.” Someone responded sarcastically, “Oh, yeah, that sounds great. You really sold it.”
I went back inside to grab a Coke. They had food set out, but my girlfriend and I had eaten dinner. I grabbed a few carrots anyway.
I met some people talking in the kitchen. Jesse, who lived there, told me about Vertigo Surfboards, a local company that makes custom boards. Another guy, who seemed as if he’d had a lot to drink, tried to tell me more about the company, but I could barely understand him.
We went into the garage so I could see some of the boards. They pointed out one that was made of aluminum. I asked if that was common and was told that it’s not. They explained that the aluminum is woven in with the fiberglass.
I said, “This may be a stupid question, but do you surf?”
They all told me that they did surf, and I said, “I just wonder if there is anyone who makes surfboards but doesn’t surf.”
Jesse said, “Yeah, there are. They’re in China.”
Repo Man was still playing in the living room. The crowd watched quietly. One guy, who’d had a lot to drink, would occasionally slur something such as, “Oh, yeah, this is a good part. Watch this.”
I went out to the back yard to talk to the tall dude again.
He told me about his recent high school reunion on the Queen Mary and about the people in high school who were popular but now seemed like losers. He added that he was happy to reconnect with his friends.
He told me that the cops showed up because the party got too rowdy. I thought about the crowd inside and said, “We don’t have to worry about that happening here.”