As I once again begi to blog about my memories, adventures and life…I think I’d like to start out blogging about a place that all the authors at OurThursday.com have a spot for in their heart. This such place has gathered many unique friends at many different occasions in our lives. The laughter, love, wackiness, stupidity and anti-sobriety this place has had is beyond normal. It is one place where, “I can’t believe I did that ” and “Yeah, it was my first time doing that” happened. From many bottles of beer on the wall to Pimp N’ Ho parties to just letting it hang loose and yes, even having S.W.A.T. being on call. The memories of what we shared there, well only if the walls could talk. A daily hangout for the best of friends and a weekend hangout for the rest. The traffic that has trekked through that place could’ve rack up airline miles with Southwest. Due to the relaxed nature of the two individuals who own this place, they’ve made these memories all possible. We can’t help but to thank my parents, Tom and Deb, for giving us their home to relax our minds. They’ve had more then a handful to put up with. It was only yesterday when they allowed me to have my first party in high school. I’d have to say we’ve all never looked back. Now we will. Tucked away in the enchanting hills of Simi Valley, I’m sure we are one party house that my friends and I will never forget. With all this said and done, let’s shed a little more light on the roof I lived under and the monster my friends created: “The Villa.”
It all started back in high school. I was the six foot nine, skinny, big eared and big nosed basketball player trying to become accepted and make it to the next level. I lived and breathed basketball. I did all the right things and avoided all the wrong things. Usually, about the second year of high school is when experimenting with the wrong things start for most teenagers. Maybe in the beginning it was only a drag of a cigarette or a sip of alcohol. A few years after the initial taste and usage, it seemed to always lead to more powerful things; weed, pain pills, etc. For me, basketball was my drug all I needed to get by. Having height and basketball talent, I knew I could possibly earn a scholarship for college. Only the wrong things would stop me. So I did my best: studied hard, worked hard, put in extra time to give myself the best chances of succeeding. While being quite shy as a 16 year old, I avoided the weekend partying and drinking. I saw on television and the news that it could only have a negative effect on my life. I had a few good friends and we instead chose computer games and soda. This was my first year on Varsity, our team was top 24 in the nation. I was being seen as a talented young prospect. Yet, I wanted more out of life and to somehow break out of my shell. Meeting new friends and becoming a little more less pussified came with the success of basketball. Then, about halfway through my sophomore year in high school, I was to do the unthinkable. I would get a little risky and attend my first high school party. If you think back to your first high school party, it must still be one of your fondest memories. It’s a big step for anyone’s teenage livelihood, we all seem to grow up on that day. There was just one funny twist to popping my party cherry. I wasn’t going to a party, instead I was going to host and throw the party at my parents house. You got it right…I’ve never even been to a party and I expect to throw one. How would I even know what to do, what to provide, who to tell. Your guess was as good as mine. This one single party would start the monster we’ve all come to call, “The Villa.”
This idea to throw a party was a process in the making. In a few weeks time, I did all the work possible for allowing my parents to let me throw a party. You must understand that throwing a party involves many universes colliding. There was no other hurdle harder to tackle then asking my parents if they would allow me to have this party. This was always step one and the toughest step to get by. You can’t make all the plans and have everyone show up and just hope they say, “OK, let them in.” That wasn’t the way to go. So as I fought off each “NO!” and begged beyond belief, eventually I broke them down. They understood that I was getting good grades, doing well with basketball and fully focused. Why not let their boy have “one” party with a “few” friends for a “few” hours. It was my best acting job yet! You must understand, 99.9% parents would keep that, “No!” till the end. Step one was now complete. I was glad I didn’t have to go with the contingency plan: Wait for the parents to leave town for the weekend and the do what all other teenagers would do, Rage it up! Since they never left town, I was glad they agreed to be there on this glorious occasion. With my parents present during this party, I was sure nothing could get crazy enough to make the night end abruptly. Of course this was the biggest “Yes!” I’ve ever received from my parents. Even bigger then the “Yes” they gave me for when I wanted this huge Lego set (That was accompanied with dramatic crying). Yet, the serious questions would then follow this significant, “Yes.” “Will there be drinking involved?” “Whose coming?” “When is the party over?” and again, “Will there be drinking involved?” Such questions were irrelevant to someone just given permission to throw a party in their parents house. I would just promise it would be a good time and no problems would ensue. I had no clue. They eventually put full trust and control with me. Now what? I was this 16 year old given permission by his parents to invite some friends over and have a great time. With no party experience, I was thinking the possibilities of the night? Would I take my first sip of alcohol or maybe even go as far as to get laid? The curiosity was killing me. I couldn’t just google “How to have a high school party,” as Google was non-existent. Nor could I ask my close friends because I doubted they’ve ever been to any high school party. So I did the next best thing; told the other basketball players. Being the youngest player on the basketball team, I felt the elder guys knew something about parties. I was trying to fit in and thought throwing a party would make me look good. You know the extent people go through to impress. Well I was trying to do such a thing. This was my chance to break out of my pussified shell and maybe earn some respect. After a Thursday practice I daringly told my teammates, “My parents are letting me have a party this weekend after our game. Do you want to come and bring some friends?” A few chuckles quickly turned into a few smiles and a sense of excitement, as they told me, “Yeah of course we’ll be there!” My eyes lit up as this weekend was to be the start of something new inside me. I was only imagining it like the movies: shy basketball player has his first party, people come, people party, everyone talks about it all week…something legendary! Now I’d have to find some more friends to join the festivities. I was wondering who to invite besides the basketball players. Luke was one of my closest friends. He knew of the computer LAN parties we already had. Multiply this by 20 and replace the computers with women and alcohol, sounds like a good time to both of us. Something we both felt could shift our well being. I told a couple of my other friends to invite their friends and figured this was enough needed for a party. The following day at school, I had numerous random students asking when and where my party was. Not to mention some cute older girls who I was always scared to approach, but instead approached me. My own excitement could only be negated by the fact that this was starting to sound like it was to be one of those wild parties. I didn’t even know these people asking about my party. If I tell them about my party, are they going to tell others? My thoughts and emotions flooded. The last thing I wanted to do was piss my parents off. I just told myself, “parents said yes, basketball players said yes, just tell everyone yes!” I thought most that asked would not come anyways. Most of these people would just chicken out anyways. Right? Sounding like plenty of people would end up coming, I let the party plans take care of itself. There was one day and one basketball game standing in my way before the big Friday night. I went to sleep focused on the game, but overpowering thoughts of a wild and crazy night plagued my mind.
I was drenched in sweat as we headed back to my house after the game. The pressure of the game was off my shoulders as we smashed one of our rivals by 30. I had a solid game with a rafter roaring big dunk at the end of the game. The emotions slowly faded away as I remembered the best part of the night was to come. I could only turn my focus back to party mode. After settling down and removing some of the valuables and items that could be damaged due to partying, I cleaned up and put my best outfit on. Black Basketball shorts, white t-shirt and sandals. Cali style of course, but it also told everyone, I was laid back and had done this before. Anticipation grew as time ticked by slowly. A few of my friends were already there and helped setup all the necessary party items: chips, dip, soda, cups. Of course my parents supplied some nice “munchies” for all to eat. We were too young to drink alcohol, so that obviously wasn’t provided. I’d never drank alcohol, but also didn’t care if it was there or not. I was sure it would be present and very prevalent. I just wanted a good and safe time, but didn’t know what to expect. With many confused lights driving down the street, it was only obvious this was the start of the party train. Standing outside with my Dad, we watched the fighting for parking as the first guests arrived; my basketball teammates. They entered my home and began to munch on the chips and drinks provided. A conversation ensued about the night’s game which calmed my nerves. I began to be less worried about the night and it being so perfect. Only a few moments later, the door bell rang. The first few friends of my teammates showed up. We greeted them with handshakes and I offered them into my house. I ran over to crank the music louder and the party was off and running.
It was a tick past Midnight. The smell of booze covered the whole house. The music had reached it’s maximum volume. Every couch was full with strangers I’d never seen in my life. In fact, the whole house was full with people I’ve never seen before. To this day, I’d never seen that many people in our house at one time. As soon as the first door bell rang, the tsunami of people seemed to not stop. Luckily, it was a spring day and we had very tolerable weather at night. The backyard was an escape from the sound, smells and overcrowding of the house. Everyone seemed to be having a great time. There had to have been about 120 people there. My parents had the most confused look on their face. I didn’t know if they were enjoying this or wondering if their house was going to collapse. With the river of people between us, I could only step outside for some fresh air. I was then confronted by a few of my older brother’s friends. Them being over 21, they had all the access to alcohol they wanted. They made about 4 runs to the liquor store up the street for everybody and profited a few dollars from the under-aged teens. Nothing was more exciting to them then watching teenagers get wasted and make fools of themselves. They asked me if I wanted one, then quickly shoved it in my face, “Just taste it.” Until this point in the party, I was drug-free in my life. What also crossed my mind at this exact moment was the time I won the D.A.R.E. award for an essay I once wrote in the 6th grade pledging to lead a drug-free life. I never said I promised! They knew I hadn’t drank before and this was their chance to put the pressure on. Scared of my parents seeing, I got out of their sight grabbed the beer and took a swig. My face cringed with bitterness. They assured me that the more I drank, the better it tasted. After a few laughs they handed me two bottles of Bud Ice and carried on. I walked away from them knowing I just took a step into the dark side. Something I was so curious about, had now become reality. I tasted my first alcoholic beverage. I didn’t think much of it, but it also tasted horrible. As big of a thing it was for some, I thought there was more to life then beer. I knew my time would come when it would be as refreshing and relaxing as they marketed it on television.
The night was rolling out as imagined. The taste of beer made me curious. I didn’t like the taste but knew it had some powerful effects unknown to me. Only a few minutes later, after my beer tasting, I would run into one of our statisticians from our basketball team. Both of our “stat girls” were two of the more sexier and popular girls on campus. I knew this one had a thing for bad boys, alcohol and partying. Her being two years older and taken, she was definitely out of my league. I was still too shy to hold a full conversation with a girl without getting nervous. Nonetheless, we shared one common fact; we had the same birthday. She approached me and said, “Hey Dustin! Crazy party, you want a shot of vodka with me birthday buddy?” I was excited that she remembered me as her birthday buddy, but not excited for the vodka. I just had a sip of beer for the first time ever, now ten minutes later I was stepping up to vodka. How could I resist her dimples and popularity? Everything was happening so fast that I told her quickly and confidently, “Sure!” As we clinked our shot glasses, I noticed that this time I was in the vision of my parents. Not letting anything stop this moment, I took the shot down and immediately gagged. My throat was on fire. I could feel the McDonalds in my stomach start to churn. She handed me some Orange Juice and I quickly recovered. With a look of struggle on my face, I thanked her for the shot. My parents barged over and reprimanded me for taking the shot. “Dustin, you are too young for alcohol…” The cute “stat girl” interrupted them abruptly and introduced herself. We all then talked about the amount of alcohol, people and the noise our party was creating outside. I figured that my parents were surprised at how full the house was and not so enthused with the amount of under-aged drinking. I had a feeling this was the peak of the party and it would all calm down. Already satisfied with the way things have turned out. I was willing to let this fun end, but the vodka was slowly kicking into my body. As my parents retreated upstairs for a few minutes. I was introduced to another shot of vodka. This was all the fuel my fire would need to let it all hang out. Time and thoughts all started to slow down as I was feeling drunk for the first time. As the crowds started to thin out, I could only see intoxicated smiles and drunken inhibitions. Everything still seemed under control as I continued my drunken chatter with the only thing that mattered at that moment, the “stat girl.”
Yelling, screaming and bottles flying. The floods of people seemed to get sucked out of the front door in one quick motion. In this commotion I heard the worst words you’d want to hear at a party, “FIGHT!” My senses quickly arose as I needed to find out who, what, where and why. I heard pots shatter as the masses rushed out the door trying to see the action. Two drunken guys seemed to want to duke it out on my front lawn over a girl. I quickly yelled to my parents and brother’s friends to help out in this situation. The fight cascaded onto the neighbors lawn. With all the yelling and screaming from the hundred people still in attendance, the fight eventually came to a halt. The two were separated, both still arguing and bleeding from the face. In the background can be heard, “Everyone get the fuck out of my house now!” These words would be forever echoed throughout the numerous parties that would be held in our home. My Dad had spoken! As the crowds suddenly dispersed. You could see that some of party goers didn’t want this all to end. The sounds of sirens could be heard in the distance. Once the flashing lights turned onto our street, teenagers scattered like cockroaches in the light. Unfortunately, about 30-40 people ran into our house frightened. Two cop cars stopped in front of our house to inspect the scene. They approached my Dad and I and told us they got a disturbance call from the neighbors. We told them we had a party and it turned into a fight in the street, but most of the party goers had left. One of the officers worked on our high school campus and recognized who I was. We spoke about basketball for a few minutes and they suddenly overheard something on their radios. The police told us to keep it down and not to have them come back. After we complied to pick up the bottles and cans left behind in the street, they wished me luck on the season and carried on. I was beyond frightened and nervous because of the numerous under-aged drinkers known by the cops. I would come to learn that what stays inside was our business and anything outside was theirs. The party was now cut down to a few of my teammates, my close friends, and a handful of other wasted girls and guys scared to leave. Without the masses of people inside you could closely see the dirty floors and trash everywhere. My parents felt as if their house was destroyed. With my Dad being a carpet/upholstery cleaner, the floors and furniture could always be restored to their original shine. Otherwise, it would just take an hour of cleaning the trash and putting everything back in its original place. With a promise to keep the rest of the people quiet and to clean up, my parents resigned for the night. As they seemed disappointed with the outcome of the party, I could only relish in the events of this night. I accomplished partying for the first time. While it was one I was hosting, I felt as if I had done this before. Yet, this was my first time and I was changed forever. I made new friends, tried beer, had shots of vodka, a conversation with a pretty girl, saw a fight and felt the drunk tiredness that comes with being up until 4 a.m. As friends filled the couches and floors passed out, I could only go to sleep knowing that this party was a success and a night to remember.
Ten years after this momentous occasion. The house we’ve come to know as “The Villa” has continued on in its glory. Through high school and college the parties would continue. How my parents let these parties rage, I have no clue. It all began from that single “Yes!” which granted me permission to throw my first house party. Ever since then, I found a way to convince my parents the next party wouldn’t be as out of hand as the previous one. Those of you who are frequent visitors to The Villa can attest that they did get more wild with age, but we learned something new from every “gathering.” I think the ego of The Villa got the better side of every person that passed through there and it became its own monster. The parties became so popular and frequent that one night in high school, after a basketball game, we went to eat a family dinner. As we drove home and approached our house, we saw numerous cars parked on our street. Only to see a usual Saturday night party happening in our own house. The problem was I had no plans for a party that night and some how a friend managed to let himself inside and start one. I can tell you that one ended quickly. Just one of the many things to happen at The Villa. We came to call my house, “The Villa” as to trick others into thinking we weren’t partying at my infamous house. Instead of saying let’s go to Dustin’s, it became, “The Villa.” It worked most of the time, but otherwise became just a funny thing between my group of friends. “Let’s go to the Villa!” Always after a busted high school party in our city, the heads turned to me as if I was going to continue the post party at my house. Cars would always follow us in a train-like fashion hoping we were going to my house. We would drive to a fast-food joint and wait for them to stop tailing us and continue on. My friends and I eventually understood that less was actually more. As the years went by, mass parties slowed down and were saved for only big occasions: birthdays, special holidays, and my surprise visits home from college. The Villa rather turned into just a daily gathering of all my friends to play video games, talk, laugh and later on drink and get faded. My parents allowed it knowing we were safe in the comfortability of their own home. With my parents being deep sleepers, my friends knew that the more quiet we were the longer the night. Without my parents this wouldn’t have been possible, but my friends helped build The Villa into the getaway and hangout spot for my friends. Since I’ve been living in Europe playing professional basketball, The Villa has been recently retired from mass parties and gatherings. The Villa is always welcome to a few good friends to have a fun time and relax. As long as my parents live there, I’m sure it will forever be that one house that we’ve all shared memories at. We all understand one thing: The Villa is the place where memories will never be forgotten and laughs will always continue! I’m sure it has a place in many of our hearts!