I’ve prowled this place, Kona, a dozen summers in childhood. Yet in night (I arrived at 10pm) it remained shrouded in this limbo between familiar and unknown. After all, in my younger years, this is the hour where I’d be carried in arms.
I spent an eerie night wandering. I remember downtown Kona blissed in light. This lark besieged by hoots was much darker. “Aloha!” I heard in a low, leery voice from a car window.
“The catcalls here..” I said to my companion; I never finished my sentence.
We settled at a bar named “Sam’s Hideaway,” where karaoke played via laser disks and perhaps a dozen patrons called each other’s names. I took the special, a rum and pineapple for $3, and my partner took her usual whiskey coke. The pour was slow, just like everything else here. Her drink was also $3. This Monday night, we drank the same drinks we do every Monday night. “Just like Manic Monday.” But in San Diego, at the Brass Rail, our drinks come in plastic cups, and they are mostly heavy because we are known, regulars.
We watched a tanned woman adjust her white dress halfway around her body. She meant to line up the seam but brought it all the way around to the other side. Earlier I had thought a man said something rude to me, and swiftly forgot it. I watched him wrap his arm around her, nervously monitoring her reciprocation.
She found us shortly after, said she’d just moved to Hawaii and was looking for friends. The man was her husband, and from Germany. Wouldn’t we let her buy us a round?
When, in the smoking hut (a designated gazebo) husband brought up sex toys and she screamed nein, nein (and Hawaiian that I do not know) and she walked away, flipping middle fingers, and he subsequently (and drunkenly) showed her marks on his back, I thought he might be scheming to take me/us home. My suspicion was confirmed when she tried to pawn me off on her “good friend” Jim. All I could do was laugh and say he “wasn’t my flavor.”
Husband politely asked about our plans for Hawaii. My partner parroted something I had said earlier: “Hawaii is the only place that is more vacation than San Diego.” Indeed, Hawaii is much like San Diego, only more. The grass is plusher, thick like a matt, yet simply prevalent. Tide pools have brittle stars (bigger), spiny urchins (but some with stripes), and fish (ten times as many and brighter). The buildings are the interesting dilapidated result of not enough fear of weather, yet wealthy enough for square corners and fresh paint. It’s laid back yet exotic, here. It’s just like home. But it’s someplace I can visit with excitement all the same.