Jiggity Jig

The less said about the training the better.  My brains were running out my ears like melted butter by the end of it. No, this is about the good part – the eight nights on Oahu (or as the Irish call it, O’ahu).  The Cayce Pollard soul-lag was effectively eliminated, thanks to powering on my phone on arrival and finding that Vanderbilt had beaten Florida at football for the first time since the Dead Sea was only sick.

The front end of the trip was very good – three nights in a Kailua bed-and-breakfast, one big room with the long horizontal blinds and low ceiling that evoke Disney-style Polynesian.  And when the rain is absolutely caning it down outside, it makes for an amazingly relaxing and restful night’s sleep.  For a town of almost 40,000, it feels small and sleep and relaxed, possibly thanks to a very compact downtown, possibly because we were only a 5-minute stroll through residential neighborhoods to a pristine white beach chock-full of para-surfers.  The market/coffeeshop/neighborhood hangout that provided me with my morning Kona only added to the feel of a place where I’d be more than happy to retire and just chill…provided with satellite TV and high-speed broadband, of course.

The back end of the trip was also good for different reasons.  Waikiki is exactly the sort of tourist nightmare that leads to bumper stickers on cars in Kailua reading “Go Back To Waikiki” – as if one took the Vegas Strip and replaced all the gambling with Japanese people. (Seriously, the one-every-ten-feet ABC Stores will take yen instead of dollars if asked.)  But away from the hustle and bustle of tacky souvenirs, luxury goods purveyors and wildly assorted dining, there’s one of the oldest hotels on the beach: the Royal Hawaiian, also known as the Pink Palace, now known as the apotheosis of the Vandy Lifestyle meme.  Because one of the shopping developments sits between it and the street, with the back wall facing the jungle perimeter of the back lawn, it is amazingly quiet and feels almost secluded, which takes some doing.  But if you just want to relax, that’s the spot.

Because it seems almost impossible to be stressed in that hotel.  There are no doors to speak of on the main level – all the lanais and patios and pretty much the entire reception area are wide-open archways, they’re draping leis and bead necklaces over your as soon as you step out of the car (which the valet will whisk away), the “low-end” Wi-Fi runs for free at a 10-megabit clip, there’s free guava juice at check-in and free Mai Tais waiting at the beachside bar, there’s maid service in the morning and turndown service in the evening, and endless drinks and refreshments are summoned and dismissed with a pen stroke under your room number – basically the experience of laying around and doing nothing is made as frictionless as possible. Hell, I went an entire day without ever putting on shoes at once point.

It’s not the sort of vacation we’d normally take, but after a year as trying as this one – health and work and everything-wise – it’s exactly what we needed.  We had a few sightseeing things, but rarely more than one a day and with no pressure to get anything done, and by Saturday, the only thing we had to do all day was lounge by the pool, reading and soaking up the sun.  We were free from the existence of a wider world, and it was glorious.

Hawaii was a good place, too.  When you’re a kid growing up in the South in the 70s, all you know of Hawaii is the intro of the original Hawaii-Five-O, the prize on the Showcase Showdown, or the moment Christmas afternoon when six buff dudes in their lava-lavas are furiously paddling to shore in an outrigger carrying Santa Claus in shorts and a flowered shirt at the beginning of the Aloha Bowl.  And there’s so much more to it than the beach at Waikiki.  Personally, I’d be just as happy to reinstate the royal family and see if monarchy can make a better fist of it than our current system of government.  And next time out, I want to make sure I can take in a Hawaii football game…and maybe even order the spam breakfast at McDonald’s.  As it is, I’ll wait for my two bespoke aloha shirts to arrive, save my kukui nut lei, and hope that it won’t be another forty years before I can relax in the tropical foliage waiting for either the mai tais or the afternoon showers…

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