Aloha, bitches! The boyfriend and I have just returned from a luxuriously lengthy leisure-time in Moku’āina o Hawai’i – specifically, the islands of Maui and Moloka’i. What will follow, over a course of weeks, is my travelogue. SPOILER ALERT: I survive to write this paragraph you’re reading.
Thursday. June 16, 2011.
Nothing makes me wistful for days gone by like traveling by plane. I’m old enough to remember a time when you could escape your reasonably comfortable seat for a small, smoking lounge and make small-talk with other passengers. Meals were included and expected, complimentary playing cards were practically forced on you, and bathrooms were more than one square inch larger than my skeleton.
Traveling by plane was a luxury, like taking a limo, pre-ordering a soufflé, or soaking in salt crystals made from blood diamonds. There was an implied dignity – it was something to look forward to: to be seated and be served.
Before the terrorists won.
Cut to: me and my boyfriend frantically racing to gut our backpacks and pockets of anything shiny and throwing them in large, grey tubs – Will my lip balm set off the alarm? Better throw it in, just in case…; stripping ourselves of shoes and spectacles, praying to a God that doesn’t exist we aren’t targeted to be put through the x-ray, knowing we’d refuse and have to succumb to the most unfulfilling massage imaginable; finally making it to our gate to find the two flights before us have been delayed since dawn, so the terminal is as absolutely packed with weary bodies, looking like some alternative concentration camp where people actually gained weight.
After a gate change and an extra “bonus hour of fun!” at LAX, we finally get on-board our flight. The boyfriend loses himself in his new toy – an iPad – while I read The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop, by Dan Charnas.
I don’t watch in-flight films; it’s a policy I have to never watch a movie in which I can understand completely what’s going on without having to hear any of the dialogue and only looking up at it “occasionally”.
Our flight attendant looks like Estelle Getty’s handbag on Golden Girls.
Sitting behind us are twin boys, maybe aged 6. Sure, they’re a little loud, but still adorable – once we crest o’er the clouds, they erupt with exclamations: “We’re almost in space! Whoa! This is crazy!” I’m a little envious that flying no longer holds this thrill for me. I’m also envious of their tiny legs, as my squished knees leave full-moon impressions on my pocketed barf-bag and complimentary copy of SkyMall Magazine.
The boyfriend is watching the free TV shows available for iPads – even he can’t get into Paris Hilton’s new show. That is the kiss of death if ever there was one.
I’m feeling a little hungry, and say so. (Normally I over pack snacks, this time I brought nothing – I need to work on my middle-ground.) I determine that I can make it to Hawai’i without more food, but the boyfriend gallantly orders me a cheese tray, knowing my “more-than-just-friends” feelings for fromage. I’m startled to hear it costs $9.00, then horrified when I see what that $9.00 got me: two packs of crackers, three slices of cheese (one slice of muenster, one of cheddar, and a clump of brie as big as a dangerously premature baby’s fist), three pecan halves – halves, mind you, not three whole pecans – and three dried apricot halves.
The Vietcong served better meals than this.
Today's lunch special is fuck you.
Outraged, I venomously whisper to the boyfriend we should demand our money back. He refuses to take the situation personally and invites me to nosh a bit, sweetly spreading some brie on a cracker, smiling – showing me it’s not so bad. I go on hunger strike for half an hour, then break fast for an entire serving of muenster (two bites).
“Muenster, indeed!” I sneer, “The cheesemaker’s answer to ‘what Tupperware might taste like if it were edible!’ And the brie tastes like it was aged for, oh, 'bout an hour.”
“This is the most delicious feast I’ve ever been served,” says the boyfriend, chomping cheddar, and I can’t be mad anymore – he’s ruining it with his good attitude.
The twin boys become less cute once they engage each other in “tray-table wars” – a game which I couldn’t fully grasp, but basically seemed a simple whomever slams his tray-table up and down the fastest and hardest, wins. I eventually turn around and gently, gently asked them to please stop, explaining why without any anger. One of the twins understands, says “Okay.” The second twin freezes with fear, as though I’d turned around and gently, gently told them I’m going to sneak into your house tonight and kill your mommy and daddy.
“Life is going to be harder for the second twin,” I think, and immediately relate to him. I want to offer the boys some of my watermelon chewing gum, to show them everything’s cool, but then remember that strangers offering sweets is the International Sign for "I Want to Hide You In My Basement for Raping".
Flying high in the dorky skies
We land at Kahului Airport in central Maui. My bladder is roughly the size of a newly-minted nickel, so I rush for the restroom. It’s small, and every urinal and toilet is being used, so there’s a line. I take my place in it.
At one of the urinals is a middle-aged, giant of a man, dressed in a solid-purple sweat-suit; he takes off his pants entirely, then his far-from-tighty whiteties, to use the urinal. I hope in my heart I never have to look him in the eye.
A stocky dude enters, mostly focused on his cellphone, and walks past our line of five for a urinal. He stops when he sees there’s none available, then sees our queue.
“Are you guys waiting in line?” he asks.
“No,” I want to answer, “we just like to watch.”
The boyfriend and I get our rental car and head for Ka’anapali, on Maui’s west coast, where we have reservations at the Westin.
Because we are part of a press-tour, there are certain events and activities we are required to attend. Whether this feels convenient or constrictive is considered on a case-by-case basis, depending on its coolness. Because our first event is getting lessons on how to create some of the hotel’s signature cocktails, I decide it’s very convenient.
Historically, I have always been a terrible student. The only reason I made it through elementary school was because no teacher wanted to have me a second year, and so moved me along. But here! Cocktails 101: instruction in which I was first to raise my hand, and quickly rose to top of my class. I was thrilled to taste okolehao liqueur, and vowed to not only finish drinking my “homework,” but to cram in case of pop-quizzes.
The boyfriend gets an easy A
Tired from travel, the boyfriend and I head for our room. While riding the elevator, I listen to a new mother sing her cradled baby to sleep with a lullaby styled rendition of Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi.
Once in our room we make love, make drinks, and watch re-runs of Absolutely Fabulous until we fall asleep.
I dream that Lulu is giving a free concert, where tickets cost $9.00. I try to explain to the promoter that you can’t charge money for a free concert. He explains “it’s inflation”. Lulu looks like Nancy Regan and sings a song about “everything in life costing $9.00”, which catalyzes a spiritual epiphany in me – I realize it’s all a brilliant, complex statement on our collective experience of debt and fulfillment. Then suddenly my leg falls off – I laugh so no one worries about it too much.
I wake-up to the sound of a drunk woman singing Mele Kalikimaka as she trips down the outside hallway.
To be continued…