Chatper 6: In Which a Party Is Held, and Tosh Gleans Some Information

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Being a large group home of college students on the beach, the residents of Pandora’s Box felt an obligation to their various groups of friends—of which there were many—to throw the occasional bash.  I hadn't been there that long, of course, but I had heard of costume parties, formals, “computer forum” parties (at which the computer nerds who communicated with each other via online forums—this was pre-pre-Internet—would get together and actually meet in person), and any other variant they could think of.  (Drama people!  Physics nerds!  D&D/Roll playing gamer parties!  It was an eclectic mix.)

But this was Santa Cruz.  To my surprise, many of the hipper “adult” (i.e., they had real jobs) elements of the town liked to come to the appropriate parties.  Various drama faculty came to the drama-oriented parties, for example.  Some neighborhood people enjoyed showing up to the formal (I think some of them just to see the scruffy Santa Cruz students in suits and ties).

And sometimes, city council folks came to the more politically-oriented parties.

When Tosh told me we were going to have a party, I was convinced he hadn't been getting enough sleep.  But he huddled with Lucas and Peggy as soon as we got back, and before I knew it, there was a party scheduled for the following Friday and I was being asked to chip in for food and beer and whatnot.

I spent the next few days buckling down with my studies, and while he didn't say anything, I could tell that Tosh was busy following up a number of other leads based on the whatever else he had managed to glean from Elaine, his elf friends, and probably other folks of his network—the phone in our room was certainly ringing frequently enough.  When he wasn't out following up some phone call, he was in the lab, or driving to various sites in the Rabbit to (I presumed) interview more people or examine other possible clues.  He left me to my studies, and given that whenever he was home he was either playing recorder music on the deck, pouring over his notes in his laboratory note book, or out doing his bizarre surfing/non-surfing routine out on the waves, I let him be, too.  I'm not ordinarily a patient guy, but something about his manner made it clear that he wasn't ready to talk.

A party at Pandora's Box is a strange combination of a Major Event and something slapped together by some (really smart) students at the last minute.  On the one hand, the house and setting was so spectacular that it was difficult to go wrong.  On the other hand, it was, ya know, a party.  With lots of guests, most of whom had high expectations, particularly the ones who were—let's be honest here—real adults, rather than students.

This was not a formal, or a serious theme party, so the expectations weren't as high.  Still, there was a certain amount of frantic preparation that went into the days leading up to The Day.  Tosh, I noticed, didn't participate in the party prep, but continuing motoring around town, doing whatever the hell it was he was doing.  I determined that the best for the house as a whole and Tosh in particular was to pitch in as best I could in getting things ready.  Thus I found myself shelling out money, cleaning, helping put up decorations, cleaning, flipping through phone books looking for a wide array of things like pool supplies, lubricant, surfing wax, specialty fabric, “smoking-only” glassware, black lights, and other things I’d rather not discuss, and cleaning.

For the purposes of the party, we decided that we needed a bit more atmosphere on the back deck, so we “liberated” a Cinzano umbrella from an obliging location that shall remain nameless, and fitted it to the redwood deck table that the landlord had left us with.  We also, at risk to back ligaments, crushed fingers, and being pitched over the edge to a messy death, lifted up off the beach, up the sea wall, and over the fence onto the back deck a buoy that had broken loose during a particularly nasty storm a few weeks previously, and then floated it in the middle of the pool.  (Where it was immediately named “David”, a hideously bad pun the author of which I withhold so as to save him or her lifelong embarrassment.)  Bill engaged a band made up of some friends of his, so we cleared an area of the back deck for them to perform, and ran out a potentially-fatal collection of extension cords and power strips, hoping we didn't overload the breakers, or make the Moss Landing power station blow up from the strain.

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