A Chihuahua Named Wanda

Nothing better than an afternoon party on a sunny day with barbecue and a live band. At this house in Kensington, they were cooking up chicken, burgers, and bacon-wrapped asparagus and artichoke hearts.

I walked in and heard someone say to his friend, “I’ll be hanging out inside the living room. Call me on my cell when the food is ready.”

A guy named Mike responded, “Dude, don’t be that guy.”

Just then, a cell phone went off. Someone asked, “Is that the Knight Rider theme on your phone? Who picks that?” The guy responded, “Hey…have you seen David Hasselhoff lately? That car is smarter than him.”

When the band tuned up, I overheard one musician talking about the song list, saying, “Let’s start with ‘Ain’t That a Shame.’ You can play slide guitar. It’ll be more like the Cheap Trick version.”

There were some teenage girls near a picnic table. One had just turned 16. I asked, “Did you get a car for your birthday?” She said, “Yeah, a Mazda. It doesn’t have a steering wheel. And the tires aren’t properly aligned.” As I was about to ask what happened to the steering wheel, she said, “It’s remote control.”

Mike and another guy were talking about how much weight they had lost. I felt guilty listening to them as I munched on Fritos and M&Ms.

Someone poured me a glass of wine at the outside bar. Mike said, “I told him if he built a bar out here, people would come hang out.” Someone walking by quoted the line from Field of Dreams in a deep voice: “If you build it, they will come.”

The band had finished three songs when a guy named Bill, who was playing accordion, asked, “Can someone check the kabobs?”

A woman went to look at the grill as the band went into what sounded like a Los Lobos song.

A guy named Scott was cooking. I said, “You’ve been cooking nonstop since I got here.” He replied, “Yeah, well…I’m a CPA. For the past few months, I can’t even remember the stuff I’ve cooked. I remember making a Pop Tart one day...and burning that. For me, this is enjoyable.”

He and my girlfriend started talking about cooking shows as I went to grab more M&Ms.

I overheard one group arguing about cars. Someone had bought an SUV and was getting crap from the others because he admitted it got 20 miles per gallon. Another person mentioned they bought a Smart Car that got 42. The SUV guy said, “What’s the pay-off? You’ll help save the planet but die of embarrassment for driving such an ugly car.”

A cyclist was telling me about the various bones he’s broken. He said his collarbone never set right.

From cyclists, to cysts... Someone mentioned having one removed and was asked, “Did you save it? You could’ve opened bottles with that thing.” He responded, “Oh, man, you really know how to make a guy feel good.” Another person piped in, “If it makes you feel better, I only have one testicle.”

With a shocked look on his face, the response came, “How would that make me feel better?”

* * *

I got to my second party in Encinitas after 10 p.m.

I heard a different party with a live band going on a few houses away. The street was pitch black as I hiked up the hill to crash it. When I peeked back there, I saw it was a wedding reception. I skipped it and went to the one I’d intended to hit.

The food was all gone, and I’d missed most of the vacation videos people had brought to share with everyone.

“This was my first ‘dive-in’ movie in the backyard,” said Yvonne, who was throwing this party at her huge house. “Some people earlier [were] watching the show from within the pool and spa.”

When I complimented her on the house, I was told that a sports agent had owned it and had a few Super Bowl parties there. She still gets mail from famous NFL players trying to reach the guy. I was wondering if the screen they were showing movies on — the biggest I’d ever seen at a residence — was the former owner’s.

There were about 50 people at the party, most of them journalists and photographers. It was odd hearing about many of them having been laid-off recently.

The good thing about them being journalists was that they made interesting vacation videos. This wasn’t like watching boring slide shows that people did of their vacations in the ’70s.

Even though the evite told us to bring jackets, I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. I thought holding my dog and walking him around would warm me up.

My dog got to play with Wanda the Chihuahua. Yvonne said, “That dog is a local canine celebrity. She has her own Facebook page with 400 friends. There were several dogs here earlier.”

I kept an eye on my dog and Wanda to make sure they didn’t start attacking each other. I laughed as Hayne, the movie-and-slide-shows producer, told stories. Someone mentioned he was quiet in a work setting. But he was a great storyteller. It was also fun when the crowd would yell at the screen as if it was The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The most common thing yelled out was the word “lies!” after something was said in front of the camera.

In between movies, it was fun listening to these journalists talk about their interests. I found out Hayne had been to Iraq three times and was trying to find the site where the famous photo was taken of the last U.S. helicopter to leave Saigon after the city was overrun by the North Vietnamese army.

I was bummed I missed his slide show about a trip to Vietnam and Thailand. But, showing up in time to see an annual backpacking trip during which the guys were attacked by mosquitoes probably couldn’t be beat.

One guy who worked for the North County Times asked me about how I get story ideas. As I was telling him, I mentioned the fact that writing about parties is a lot easier than the type of writing he did.

I asked Yvonne about what she did. She mentioned working for Global School Net, a nonprofit organization that promotes online learning activities for kids.

I was interested in what she was saying, but I was shaking from the cold. She asked if I wanted some hot tea, and I said, “No. We’re just going to walk our dog around the block. We’ll come back if you think the party will still be going on.”

She said, “Oh, yeah. Now that the movies are over, we’ll probably bring the party into the house.”

I told her I’d be back after I thawed out on the dog walk.

After walking our dog, we saw a number of people leaving and decided to hop in our car and take off as well.

I got an email a few days later that read, “Are you warm yet?”

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I take my mutt to parties, if they are dog friendly. I mean, hey...I didn't get a dog from the pound just to have him sit at home while I'm out partying all the time. So, if there's a party at a park or outdoors, I sometimes bring him.

Now you're taking your dog to the parties you crash? You really have become Zsa Zsa.

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