Held on Ocho de Mayo at the Plaza Tennis Center from 7 p.m. to midnight, this benefit for the KC Ronald McDonald House and Operation Breakthrough sounded like wastoidal good times -- $25 ($30 at the door) included food for the first two hours, accompanied by a drinkathon of beer and margaritas. Naturally, the boozefest was the main draw, but we were a bit apprehensive about the fiesta because it could attract the pretentious Plaza bar crowd (which wasn't necessarily a bad thing -- at least that would be heckleworthy).
"You know there'll be orange people there," said Research Assistant Cat as we liquored up beforehand. "They're so fake-baked that they have crusty outer shells," she said. "Like M&Ms. Or like a marshmallow that's been burned."
Another concern was whether a party held by a charity group would be ... well ... fun. These sort of things seem to be organized by the types who planned parties in high school and are now smug marrieds living in the suburbs. But, as we had to remind ourselves periodically throughout the night, it was For a Good Cause. So off we went, once it got dark out.
The Tennis Center was a terrific venue for the party; it was great to be outdoors on a warm, slightly humid night, and the courts were done up nicely. The giant fluorescent lights were off, and strings of Christmas lights added a festive touch (along with randomly cheesy items that we wanted to steal, such as a giant inflatable cactus and a big, doofusy stuffed dog wearing a sombrero). The party took over half the court space facing the horse fountain; carpet and AstroTurf had been laid down, and low tables had been placed on the floor. The stage was at the east end, and a somewhat sizable crowd milled about on the west end.
Despite the fine setting, the suckitude of the party became apparent not long after our arrival. The shindig reminded us of a frat party, from the guys manning the two wooden ticket tables at the front to the multitude of guys inside wearing polo shirts, khaki shorts and mandals (the male sandal -- fashioned from woven strips of leather and a buckle). They had accessorized their outfits with man jewelry (usually a gold-link chain) or a cigar. Among the chicks, there were way too many Hawaiian-print dresses.
We made a beeline for the drinks and were disappointed with the margaritas, which tasted like lemonade without the kick. RA Kathryn pointed out that it reminded her of ground-up SweeTarts. "My teeth kind of hurt," she said. We threw them away and settled for plastic cups of Bud Light. "It's asstastic," said RA Dennis of our skunky beer. Also asstastic was the band, which performed lame renditions of "Mustang Sally" and "Cocaine" and was the band equivalent of 101 the Fox. Which is fine on, say, Chiefs Sunday, but not at a supposedly cool party. "There was, like, a 15-minute keyboard solo," said RA Nadia of one musical interlude. "We were the only people cheering," added RA Jimmy. "It was like the Miami Vice theme." When band broke into "Sweet Home Alabama," everyone around us started dancing. We did the mock do-si-do with Dennis and were confronted by a Bacchus volunteer who was going around and trying to herd people onto the empty dance area. "Hey!" he said. "You should be doing that up front! I'm trying to get people to go up to the stage." He explained that he wasn't the Official Herder for the event and even tried to appeal to our lushery by informing us that we could get a little extra tequila in our margaritas -- but only at the bar by the stage.
We saw through his little ploy and ignored his directive. "This is like a really shitty wedding reception where you don't know anyone," RA Dennis said. We decided to change that and started approaching guys and asking, with a suggestive leer, "So ... who's up for some mixed doubles later?" or "Hey ... what's the score? Love-love?" Our targets laughed nervously, and one replied, "I haven't played in a while." That equaled Dud in our eyes. "It's called a sense of humor, fuckhead," said RA Nickie when we relayed this story to her. "Which is lacking in this crowd."
However, one guy, who gave his porn star name of Dick Winwood, did screech, "Yeeoooow! Double entendre!" He was getting his drink on with bottled water and was there to just hang out with his friends. We asked if he had seen Shandi, of America's Next Top Model fame, who was in attendance, and that set him off. "Give me 60 seconds and I'll find 10 girls here who are hotter than her!" he ranted, even though he had never seen the show and didn't know what she looked like. "Just the fact she was on that show makes her that much more shallow!" We tracked her down, and she was really sweet, so we refrained from being an ass and told her we thought she was robbed on the show.
We herded ourselves out of there and were so depressed (and tiredly lit) by what passes for a buzzworthy social event in KC that we were home by midnight -- on a Saturday night, no less. As we walked to our car, it also didn't help that we could still hear the band, who just happened to be playing "Wonderful Tonight."