By ALEXI VENICE
I embrace the adventure in travel. I never know what’s going to happen on an airplane, at a car rental company, in a bar, in a bathroom or at the grocery store, so I’m psychologically prepared for anything, knowing I’ll come out the other side with a story.
Our latest adventure started in the below puddle jumper from Honolulu to Molokai.
Bootie Pepper and I were assigned to sit in the front row, so we were told to board the plane first. I was wearing my travel clothes, which include a baseball cap and my heavy backpack. We crouched down as we walked up the aisle toward the cockpit, one of the female pilots watching us from her seat. I made it half way up the aisle when my forehead hit something—hard—sending me to the floor with stars in my eyes. I was sprawled out, dying of embarrassment, my eyes closed and my head hammering.
My polite daughter said, “Gosh, Mom, are you okay? What’s goin’ on down there?”
I rubbed my head and got to my knees, the weight of my backpack making it difficult to stand. “I hit my head on something.”
The pilot said, “Don’t worry. Everyone does that.”
I looked at her, blue dots obscuring my vision. What the what? If everyone does that, why didn’t you warn me? Admittedly, she might have been saying that to make me feel better. But still!
“Thanks. Good to know,” I said, scooting on my knees to my seat like a drunken lizard. I had to be nice to her because she was flying me where I needed to go, so I didn’t tell her to put up a sign or verbally warn people who were on their way to the front. I buckled my seat belt and rubbed the blossoming egg on my forehead as we took flight.
When we landed at 8 p.m. at the tiny Molokai airport, we rolled our bags across the parking lot to the rental car building, the only game on the island (population 7,000).
Ten months ago, when we made our flight arrangements for Molokai, Bill and I specifically discussed the type of rental car we would need for two weeks. We both remember this conversation, agreeing at the time it was my responsibility to reserve the car. (I sort of—but don’t completely—remember doing this. My memory isn’t what it used to be, and I have an excuse that I was really busy at work.)
Tired and hungry after a full day of travel, Bill and I approached the counter and gave our names. The lady told us she had nothing reserved under either of our names. Hmm. We gave more identifying information. Nothing. A sick feeling bubbled up from my core. Since they didn’t have an existing reservation for us, I asked if they had any cars available to rent. Nothing. Sold out.
At this point in the conversation, I looked at Bill and half-smiled, my eyes searching his for forgiveness. It was beginning to dawn on me that I failed to rent a car. Please don’t get angry and blow up at me in front of everyone standing here, I telepathed to him.
Our condo was located 15 miles from town, so walking wasn’t an option. Plus, we needed a car to buy groceries and stuff, so renting a taxi wasn’t a viable option either. We were going to be there for two whole weeks. Sheesh!
After the woman at the desk discussed our situation with the manager (30 minutes passed), they rustled up a rental car. (You know the rate was outrageous because we were on an island where this company has a monopoly AND we oozed desperation. We might as well have had tattoos on our foreheads that said, “Rip us off. We’re tourists!”)
We coughed up some coin, and the Molokai cash hemorrhage began. But, we were on vacation, so that took some of the sting out of the price tag. Here’s a pic of our desperation rental car that I had to sell a kidney to afford.
The upside is that we blended in with all the locals in our island car. We were now island people.
When we booked this trip, we decided we wanted to stay on an island that was less inhabited than Kauai, so Bill corresponded with a condo owner in Molokai for a lofted unit overlooking Kepuhi Beach. We took a leap of faith on not only the condo but also the beach. Fortunately, we weren’t disappointed.
The below is a view of beach from our lanai at sunrise. See the rainbow?
As you learned in my last post, The Pitcher proposed to Bootie Pepper on Kepuhi Beach, which is beyond the condo units in the pic.
UNBEKNOWNST TO US, however, the lofted unit had an open bedroom (both main level and upper level)! Ha! The Joke is on us! Nobody had any privacy. The sleeping arrangement was like glamping.
There are only a few restaurants on the island. Here we are at a very casual indoor/outdoor burger joint—Kualapu’u Cookhouse. Their Mahi burger and fries are the bomb!
After dinner, I decided to use their restroom. I entered the door marked Wahine and noticed the concrete floor was wet around the toilet. I assumed the bathroom had just been cleaned.
Following my standard operating procedure, I bent over to tear off a few squares of TP to put on the toilet seat. Suddenly, the entire roll flew off the makeshift wire holder and landed in the toilet. I was grossed out, my first thought being, Can I leave it in there and walk away? No. That would be rude and irresponsible, so I quickly grabbed the corner of the roll before it sank to the bottom and flung it into the trash can under the sink. I ripped open a new roll of TP and tore off a long strip to dry off the toilet seat that had old, wet TP sticking to it.
As I began to dry off the seat with the wad of new TP, the entire seat (lid and all) flew off the toilet and landed on the concrete floor with a loud clatter. (There was nothing holding the seat on the toilet!)
Mortified—and still having to pee—I was afraid the staff would hear what was going on in the bathroom and knock on the door. I shook my head to keep from fainting and surveyed the situation.
I was confronted with how to pick up the seat off the wet, concrete floor and replace it on the toilet without actually touching it. (If you know me, you know I’m a germaphobe. However, there’s a certain point in a disastrous situation when you give up, reconciling yourself to the fact that you’re going to be grossed out and get your hands a little dirty). I saw some Dial soap on the sink, so I was relieved that I’d at least be able to wash up.
I gingerly replaced the once-white seat on the toilet and wiped it down with some 409 Cleaner that was resting on top of the paper towel dispenser. Finally, I could pee. I pushed down my shorts and squatted to sit on the seat, which I knew would be a balancing act since it wasn’t secured.
Once I rested my full weight on the toilet, however, I learned that the unsecured seat wasn’t my biggest problem. Rather, there was a porcelain-on-concrete grinding sound when I sat. The entire toilet lurched to the right, threatening to tip over. I quickly rose off the seat of the lopsided toilet and finished peeing as best I could while hovering. When I stood to inspect the situation, the toilet was now off-kilter, so I thought it was best not to flush it.
I washed my hands with the Dial soap and returned to the table in time to see Bill settling the tab.
Oh good. We can get the hell out of here before they realize that I demolished their toilet. That puppy was on the verge of breaking away entirely—potentially with me on it, lying on the floor of the bathroom! Why does the universe insist on messing with me in this way?
A few days later, while we were in Misaki’s grocery store, I spotted two young gentlemen in shirts and ties who looked like they were the managers (or at least assistant managers). They were standing in the health and beauty aisle, staring at the products and talking to each other. I needed some shampoo, so I walked over and stood next to them.
They smiled and said, “Aloha.” I greeted them then looked for a bottle of Dove shampoo. I noticed there was only travel size on the shelf, so I told the two young men that it’d be helpful if they carried larger bottles. They politely informed me I could buy a larger bottle at the pharmacy down the street.
I thanked them then looked at their conspicuous black name tags, which clearly say, “The church of JESUS CHRIST of latter-day saints.”
Mortified again! I’m such an idiot! (Although, in my defense, the kid on the left has a pencil behind his ear and a notebook in his pocket–which is probably filled with Bible verses and girls’ phone numbers, but it looked very managerial to me.)
I immediately recognized my embarrassing mistake and apologized profusely, saying, “I’m so fucking sorry.” (No. I didn’t say that.) They were very gracious about my gaffe, so I offered to buy them a bottle of wine. (Not!) Then I asked if I could take a pic of them for my blasphemous blog (not) and they enthusiastically agreed.
Later in the week, we decided to go to Paddler’s Restaurant & Bar to hear local music and eat a burger. When we entered the bar, a classy looking woman grabbed me by the arm and asked if my necklace was an authentic whale bone from New Zealand. Huh?
Hmm. How to answer her question. My life would be so much easier if I could just answer questions simply and directly without analyzing the crap out of them. I didn’t want to tell her that Bill bought the necklace for $10 in the resort convenience store where there’s a small jewelry section next to the Pringles potato chips. That answer might make her feel like an idiot for asking me, and I try not to make people feel bad about their curious observations. Just as I appreciate the young Christian men not making me feel bad about my blunder.
I smiled at the lady and said “no,” but asked her if she was from New Zealand. She nodded and told me she has several whale bones. She clearly wanted to engage in more conversation, but I don’t know anything about whale bones and I’d grown bored, so I moved along.
In retrospect, I think this necklace broadcast a signal that I was more open to meeting new people than I actually am. If that’s the case, what necklace would broadcast that I’m an introvert who lacks social skills? A spiked collar?
No sooner had we finished our first round—and the local Hawaiian band had started—than the below gentleman (with thick, grey hair) in the white t-shirt winked at me and blew me a kiss! Who blows a kiss to a stranger from six feet away? I smiled politely, tapped my index finger to the rim of my glasses and pointed it like a salute. (This is supposed to be my cool—I gotcha, dude, now leave me alone—gesture.)
Despite my intention, my hand signal seemed to encourage him. While Bill was at the bar fetching more cocktails, this gentleman turned his body toward me, gyrated his hips in his chair and threw his fists in the air with a thrusting motion. (His action was way outside my comfort zone. I hadn’t seen guys come onto someone like that since, well, never. He was #overthetop-insane)
Before I started thinking I was too hot for this bar, the guy turned to The Pitcher and did the same thing! That was a bold move. The Pitcher is a pretty big young man from Wisconsin who might be itching for a bar fight. You don’t do that to The Pitcher. He looks like Elvis in Blue Hawaii. “Hit ’em one for Fifi!”
We decided to ignore the local grinder, as he seemed content to entertain his table with lewd antics. (I guess he’s quite the local jokester. Later, the band even called him out as a trouble-maker who needed to be thrown out.)
When Bill and I hit the dance floor, the grinder came out with a woman and danced next to us. His eyes practically popped out when he saw that I was a full foot taller than he is! I probably outweigh him by 50 pounds, too. (He should rethink that gyration/thrusting motion as a way to get peoples’ attention.)