by Mark Stamper
Told by middle aged surfer Jeff
My father was turning eighty, so I decided to throw him an amazing party. I was going to set up a day by the waves out in beautiful Redondo Beach. You know, what better way to celebrate a birthday than with friends on the beach with Food, Sun, Suds, and Family?
I hadn't been working a full time gig or anything, so I had plenty of time to perfect the details. But my parents didn't really want to make a big deal out of the birthday. I mean eighty is old and my old man is chained to that oxygen tank. Still, these two need to party. I mean, come on, you don't turn eighty every day.
The whole family was amped about the whole thing. Everyone was chipping in. Cousin Darrell owned a pub and got the right permits to set up a tiki bar on the beach. The theme was ‘Elvis in Hawaii’. I lined up two Elvis impersonators, and a pig to roast over an open fire.
Finally, the party date arrives. The weather is beautiful. The sky is bright blue and the temperature is at a nice seventy degrees. In the morning, I drive to my friend Randy’s house pick up the boar. I tell my parents that I need them to come to Torrance with me to check out some car I was thinking about buying. I told them that it was a ’93 Mustang in good condition with original interior. They bought it.
Redondo Beach is only about thirty minutes from their house in Carson, but it took us nearly two hours. Cousin Margaret didn’t get to the beach in time, so the setup was delayed. By the time she got there, a bar mitzvah had taken the prime beachfront spot. My relatives had to get everything set up a quarter of a mile up the beach.
So for two hours we drove in the blazing California sun. The dead boar in the trunk started to.. well, it got pretty rank. We were all doing our best to ignore it, you know? As we pulled in to Redondo Beach, my father said: “It smells like a roadkill back here.”
It was the perfect setup: “God, don’t talk about mom like that. Jeez, I know she’s getting old but seriously”
We got out of the car and walked to the party. The surprise was triggered, and everybody ate it up.
I was hardly out of the car when these two overweight Mexican guys approached? "Iz Diz da Elvis party?
“Hey Bro. Yeah. Sorry, but, uh, I don’t know who invited you” I noticed that the duo wore gold chains and white jumpsuits.
“Invited? Invited? We are working homes. I am Juan and this is Julio. We are the singing Elvis’”
No human being alive could have mistaken either of these two turds for the king of rock and roll. Chi Chi Rodriguez, maybe. “Uhh. There must be some kind of mistake. I ordered one old and one young Elvis.”
“I am very old. Julio; not so old.”
“Three hundred dollars, we need and we will play”
I excused myself politely. I pulled out my cellphone and called the agency that provided these two clowns. No answer. It figures, what a rip off? I wasn't going to pay full price, so I pulled out a wad of single dollar bills and put a twenty on the outside. I handed it to them.
Long story short, Julio and Juan were excellent. Juan could only sing ‘Viva Las Vegas’ but Julio was great. Also, it was good to have some Mexicans around because we didn’t know how to cook a raw pig. The brothers elvis were done playing, the pig was almost done roasting, and my parents were enjoying the open fire. Everyone was smiling, having a good time.
So what did I do? I had to take it all in. I walked over to the edge of ocean and sat down on a stone. I focused on the waves and on the setting sun. The sky was orange, pink, and gold. I fell into a gnarly trance. I was in tune with everything that ever lived in the history of the planet. This was zen.
I was awakened by a thunderous bang. Then my parents started going ape. Absolutely ballistic! The old man sounded like a train whistle or some shit. It was terrible.
So I look over to this monstrosity and what do I see? Well, first I see Juan and Julio coming straight for me. The two sweaty, overweight, drunk Elvis impersonators were coming at me like I was Davey Crocket at the Alamo. Behind them, I see my dad is on fire. Literally, the man is on fire.
As it turned out, Julio and Juan were onto my ruse. Apparently, they thought that the tiki bar was free of charge. They wanted to kill me when they found out that they only made twenty four dollars apiece while their bar tab was well over a hundred.
Juan picked up the half-full bottle of tequila and smashed it against the ground.
That triggered a very unfortunate string of events. The tequila burst into flames. Liquid fire landed on my father’s oxygen tank. The oxygen tank exploded, and my father burst into flames.
The force of the explosion decimated the roasting boar. A charred skeleton was all that remained of the beast.
My father looked like a flaming marshmallow. He was saved by the ‘stop, drop, and roll’ technique. No one sang ‘happy birthday.’ He was his own candle.
Juan and Julio did not thrash me. Instead, they fell to their knees, crying “Las Carnitas de los Dios!” The oxygen tank explosion produced shrapnel: pork hurdled through the atmosphere.
About a hundred yards away, you could hear the bar mitzvah become suddenly quiet. The groans came next.
All in all, I can’t wait for my eightieth birthday. It’s gonna be so rad.