I have been looking forward to going to the Islands, getting away from all the meaningless, endless twaddle of life in California, anticipating a long exhalation in Paradise, tranquility, serenity, the bliss of doing-nothingness.
We've been to all of the islands many times. Jack loves Hawaii: Harry Owens and the Royal Hawaiians, Don Ho, fish and poi, Tiny Bubbles, Little Brown Girls, everything. No matter what the weather when we leave, he gets on the plane in his Aloha shirt, surfer shorts and flip flops, carrying his ukulele and snorkel gear, smiling and saying 'Aloha!' to everyone. As soon as the flight attendants start jimmying the drink cart down the aisle, he orders his first Mai Tai, make that a double with extra pineapple!
We've rented a gracious plantation cottage in a quiet neighborhood on the windward side of of Oahu. It's half an hour and a million miles from Waikiki and a ten minute stroll from quaint old Kailua Town. Won't need the rental car much. Miles of white sand and jade-green water lie almost at our door. Minah birds cackle and moan at each other in the plumeria trees and you can lie in a hammock strung between two coconut palms and watch the mangoes ripening in the afternoon heat. It's heaven.
Except for that Ukulele! Jack suddenly has nothing to do. No office to go to. No lawn to mow. No projects down in the garage. Nobody but me to talk to. So, if we're not touring the island sights, heading for the beach, or ferreting out Hawaiian Music shows, he plays his ukulele - twang plink-a plink-a, twang, thunk. Strummed gently, it has a soft, enticing, breeze-easy sound. But he likes to really whack it.
All I wanted was peace. Quiet! I know I am being uncharitable, but for me Hawaii is all about the sound of the waves, the rattle of the palms, and the random quirking and twerking of the birds.
At first I thought it was cute. Here we were in Hawaii with Jack on the lanai strumming and humming 'Little Brown Girl in a Little Grass Skirt' and other Hapa Haole hits of the 1940s and 50s, but he can be obsessive. For the last three days he's been stuck on 'The Hasegawa General Store,' a long, shaggy-dog song about a store in an isolated town on Maui that has everything you could want - from 'sunburn creams to ladies' magazines,' its lyrics are hypnotic, the kind that get into your head and won't come out. But he can't seem to get past the first few bars and he can't get the lyrics straight. I don't know why. I have them, and the tune, branded on my brain.
I have escaped for a while this afternoon. I'm writing this on the beach in the dense shade of a row of gnarled Norfolk Pines. They don't even hum in the brisk afternoon wind.
As I walked away from the house, the twang of the uke floated above even the clatter of the the palms in the trade winds and the noisy respiration of the sea, but I've got my snorkel gear and plan a quiet afternoon with the fish. You know, you can't hear a thing underwater.