Kind of like a waterfall we saw.
I wanted to write about our drive out to Hana, the only town on Maui’s east coast, a town we described as “not living up to our low expectations,” but the fact is that it’s impossible to convey the hilarity of that trip in words. We were going on minimal sleep, driving winding, death defying rocky roads (rental car companies prohibit you from going there) in a Pontiac Grand Am, and hiking the mountains searching for waterfalls in flip flops. If only I could adequately convey the comical genius of walking out of the woods in board shorts and flip flops and joking about seeing a man with a fu manchu beard saying, “I see you have found our secret water fall. Veeery impressive,” to which we reply, “It belongs in a museum!”
We had a Pontiac.
You’ll never laugh about this as much as we did though, so I’ll just drop it.
But there’s more to be said about the traditional Hawaiian money-making cultural celebration known as the “luau.”
There was some debate as to whether or not we should go to a luau while in Maui. Some people thought it was just a tourist trap. I thought of it more like free drinks, food and women moving their bodies in unnatural ways for four hours. Besides, going to Hawaii and not going to a luau is like going to Vegas and not gambling. Or going to Jersey and not shopping. It’s not right.
Not the luau we saw.
Luckily, in the course of our drunken evening (after the near death episode with the curiously unrepentant cab driver) we were convinced to attend a luau by a couple of vacationers we met that night. Literally – a couple. Because, besides the four of us, every other person on the island comes with a partner. In this case, they were a couple of Canucks. (Like I said, Canadians love Hawaii. Seriously, I can’t wait for one of you to go to Hawaii, meet a Canadian and immediately think, “Wow, Dan was right.” This is why I blog.)
Kendra and Tate are thoroughbred Canadians. When drunk, they throw around “Aye” like we throw around “Balls.” We talked about hockey, frost and free health care. If it weren’t for Scott methodically breaking the ice with inappropriate jokes and unrelenting puns (going so far as to call himself “The PUNisher”) I fear we might have been stuck in such a stereotypical relationship that eventually we would be discussing maple syrup and Boxing Day.
(Side note: Kendra and Tate, as it turns out, are ridiculously cool. So cool that at one point Tate, 28 years old, was making fun of how “young” I was by saying, “Man, when I was 26 I was still living in Costa Rica, surfing everyday. Now I’ve got this stiff job.” Thanks Tate, I’ve only had the same stiff job since I was 19. It’s OK, your heart deadens after a few years, you don’t really feel it after that.)
This is not Kendra and Tate.
We made plans for a cab driver to take us all out to the luau on Friday, the last night of our vacation. Upon picking us up, the cab driver immediately announces that he once co-produced a record for Johnny Cash. It was one of those exchanges where no matter what we would have asked him, he would have worked that fact into his answer. Like:
Us: “So are you from Maui?”
Cab driver: “Nah, I moved here after producing a record for Johnny Cash.”
Us: “How long do you think the ride will be?”
Cab driver: “Not as long as it took me to produce a Johnny Cash album, that’s for sure.”
Us: “Can you turn up the air conditioning?”
Cab driver: “You know, Johnny cash loved air conditioning when I produced an album for him.”
To prove his story, the cab driver, while steering with his knees, reaches into a folder underneath his seat and produces an 8½ x 10 photo of Johnny Cash, seemingly blown up from a camera phone picture, with some guy in the background who bears a minimal resemblance to our cab driver. Sadly, you just knew that he cropped out the cocktail tray he was holding. You just knew . . .
We manage to let the issue die after some polite Oohing and Aahing, although we couldn’t avoid the conversation where he criticizes the movie Walk The Line for “not portraying the whole Johnny,” as though he could have done a better job at retelling the story of Johnny Cash’s life after serving him too many whiskey sours at Jewish wedding on Long Island.
Anyway, we get to the luau and within two minutes of being there we attack the open bar. There are only two bartenders for about 100 people, so being productive drunks required a strategy. We tried ordering three drinks at a time, but the bartender informed us it was a two drink limit per trip. Unfortunately, she informed us of this after Matt had ordered three beers, forcing him, to the chagrin of surrounding parents holding their children, to chug one AT THE BAR before carrying the other two away. “Not my best moment,” he says as we get back to the table.
Instead we diligently order two drinks at a time, even if we didn’t need them. The result was a table full of drinks – a section for beer, a section for light rum and coke, a section for dark rum and coke and a section for light rum and diet coke (Atkins approved). What transpired over the next three hours can only be described as, “Everything Maui doesn’t want in their travel brochure.” Highlights include:
1. Scott screaming, “Shake your badunkadunk!” during a particularly jouncy hula dance.
2. Us being asked to leave after the show is over because the employees were trying to “have a meeting” and they were distracted by us loudly singing the theme song to “The Nanny.”
3. Scott and I running up on stage during an audience participation portion of the show and “shaking it” for the crowd. After another older, much less talented man is crowned the winner, Scott and I storm off the stage saying, “That’s bullshit!” as we get back to the table.
Scott and I excitedly running up on stage. Not really.
And then there was Date Rape Keith, some random dude who we met on line for the bar. Unprompted, he walks up to us and says, “Just so you know, me and my friends aren’t dating the girls we’re with. So take your best shot with them. They’re pretty easy.”
We laugh this off and later on in the night Keith stops over at our table to drunkenly slur something else and then reiterate, “Really guys, come on over. They’re bitches, but they’re easy.” As he walks back to his table, I lean over and say to Matt, “Keith has definitely date raped a girl before.”
Matt, always curious, YELLS over to Keith, “Hey Keith, you ever date raped a girl?”
Keith replies, “What?”
(Most awkward five seconds in Maui history.)
Matt then screams back, “I said ‘15 minutes till the bar closes!’” to which Keith smiles and replies, “Cool.” It should be noted here that earlier in the evening Matt found Keith puking his guts out in the bathroom.
This is not Keith. But it cold be.
(If by chance any parents read my blog, consider this my unequivocal endorsement for luaus – fun for the whole family.)
At the end of the night we call the same cab guy who drove us out to the luau to come and pick us up. Everyone is drunk beyond words and one look at John, who is hiccupping like a cartoon character, and I volunteer to sit in the front seat. Almost immediately the cab driver starts in again about his wild life as a music promoter / producer. This time instead of trying quell his braggadocio I decide to egg him on. I ask all sorts of questions about what other work he has done, where he has been since and what other crazy experiences he has had.
He proceeds to tell me that after deciding to quit the music business, he traveled to Europe, Asia, Australia, eventually ending up in Maui. In what could easily pass for a skit on “Saturday Night Live,” he then grabs his photo folder once again and starts showing me pictures of him all over the world. At one point he reveals a picture of him RIDING A CAMEL in a white Arabian robe and head dress. You could just imagine what would come next:
“Here’s a picture of me and WMD’s in Iraq.”
“Here’s a picture of me stealing a baby panda in China.”
“Here’s a picture of me in Nepal wrestling a Bengal for a piece of meat.”
This is not Maui.
It was almost too much to bear. I couldn’t even begin to process the logic of this guy going from record producer / world adventurer to cab driver. Not that it’s not an honorable profession – drunk people need drivers and cabs provide that valuable service. But I doubt that someday when this guy is old and gray he will show his grandchildren a picture of him next to Johnny Cash followed by a picture of him sitting on the hood of his ’98 Chevy Astro. Kind of like me sitting down with my grandchildren in the far off future and showing them these pictures from my Maui vacation.
I know you won’t believe me, but the sun set . . . AGAIN!