I’ve just come from listening to Robert Cazimero do a show at the Blue Note nightclub. I’m sitting at the Moana Hotel’s Beach Bar, checking email on my phone. At any bar, I like it when the seats next to me are empty.
The young man playing solo guitar is singing quite the diverse song list. Right now, it’s “On the Street Where You Live.”
A gentleman sits down at the bar, taking a seat one over from me. I’m guessing he prefers no one sitting next to him either, and I mentally thank him for respecting my space.
He orders a beer, then starts checking his phone. It’s the two of us now, texting by the beach at Waikīkī. People will pay an arm and a leg to stay at The Moana, right on the beach, the oldest hotel welcoming visitors here to the tourist heart of Honolulu.
What appear to be a husband and wife come to the bar and take seats one over from the guy. Their seats, however are next to each other. The husband, 30ish, says, “Ah need something to drink. It sure is hot out here tonight.”
They order Mai Tais then pull out their phones. Their drinks arrive. They put down their phones.
“Connie,” he says, “here’s to us.” They clunk plastic glasses. I look at my plastic beer mug. The last time I came to the Beach Bar, maybe 15 years ago, I distinctly remember the glasses were, well, glass.
The bartender asks, “You folks here on your honeymoon?”
“Why yes, we are.”
The bartender offers his congratulations, then moves on.
The guy next to me pops up. “Congratulations.” He lifts his beer to them.
“Why thank you kindly, friend,” the husband says. “Where you from?”
The guy next to me says he’s from Seattle. “I came here on my honeymoon 25 years ago,” he says.
“Are y’all here for your anniversary then?” the wife asks.
Seattle laughs. “No, that whole deal’s a couple lifetimes ago. I have no idea where that woman is these days. I’m here on business.”
“Huh,” the husband says. “Well I can see why you’d want to stay here, even if it reminds you of your ex. This hotel is amazing.”
“Yeah,” Seattle says, “it is. I just try not to think about her.”
Seattle says, “And where are you folks from?”
“We’re from Fort Worth, Texas,” the husband says. “It’s the first time here for both of us. She always wanted to come stay in Waikīkī at the Moana Hotel, so here we are. To tell you the truth, I thought Hawaiʻi was just one island. I was surprised there’s a bunch of ‘um.”
“Yeah, yeah, that’s definitely true,” Seattle says. “And each one’s different too.”
The young man on stage is playing a Keola Beamer song called “The Beauty of Mauna Kea.” Mauna Kea is on the minds of a lot of people right now. The whole situation there is so sad. It’s tearing people apart, destroying friendships, ill-will fomenting all around.
The Texan says, “And I hear the biggest one is called Hawaiʻi Island, so I’m thinking maybe that’s why I got confused. My wife thought I was kinda stupid.”
Even I have to chuckle at this. His wife elbows him. “Now, Hank, I did not say you were stupid. I just said I couldn’t believe you didn’t know there was more than one island.”
“Well, okay, honey,” the husband says, hugging her, “but I felt kinda stupid.”
“The Big Island’s my favorite,” Seattle says. “ I love it there.”
He congratulates them again, then goes back to his phone.
The Big Island has always been my favorite island as well. I love the energy there. The volcano. The home of Madam Pele.
There are a couple spotlights directed toward the ocean, and I can see people swimming out there, lots of them, in the foam and waves, splashing around in the dark water.