I posted this story in April of 2006 and, because I am uninspired and have told all of my cute stories, I am recycling it. Not that anyone read it the first time, so in a way, it's almost a virgin story. Please enjoy this 100% true Fooleryland story.
Did I ever tell you about the time two boatloads of sailors and Magic Johnson were in attendance at my going away party?
It’s true, every word. Except for the part about Magic Johnson. That’s not true, because he didn’t show up.
But the sailors did.
The place was Kaanapali, Maui, and it was August 17, 1987. I know this date not because my brother Mantel Man pulled it out of his, um, ear, but because it was the night of the Harmonic Convergence, as predicted by Quetzalcoatl* and as celebrated by Shirley MacLaine. On that very night there were something like 25,000 pilgrims up on Mt. Haleakala, worshiping something or other. I guess the view of whatever was supposed to happen in the heavens was really good at 10,000 feet.
When I lived in Maui there were two places in Kaanapali to go dancing after work (well, two with air conditioning, anyway): Banana Moon in the Marriott, and Spats in the Hyatt. Spats was too snooty and too expensive, and there was almost always someone in our group who wasn’t dressed appropriately for the dress code there, so we usually went to the Moon.
It’s so hard to remember how things were back then. Why did I feel compelled to go dancing at 11:00 at night, after a long day (often a 15-hour day, because I had two jobs)? I was 21 – okay, that explains most of it. But part of it, especially in the sweltering heat of my first summer there, was that we couldn’t sleep in the liquid air anyway – why not go somewhere with A/C? Banana Moon it was.
So when it was time for me to leave the island and go back home, back to college, back to reality, my friends took me to Banana Moon for one last night. We knew the Tongan bouncers at the Moon, and they always let us in, even if there was a line, so we were surprised when they made us wait at the door. When we were finally let inside, we were surprised again – all of the booths in the place, which were always occupied, were empty. All of them. Of course we picked one and sat down, only to have one of the bouncers, Ava, oust us.
"Reserved," said Ava.
Never seen that before. "By whom?" we asked.
"Can’t tell you," said Ava. He was a man of few words, and if you could see his arms and neck you’d understand why that worked for him. But another employee was much more chatty, and we learned that Magic Johnson was in town, and had reserved ALL of the booths for his party.
Magic never showed.
So when two boatloads of sailors – remember them? I told you about them – showed up, there was no place for anyone to sit down, and the place was packed.
Meanwhile, people were buying me drinks left and right, and, sap that I was, I was doing the "I’m gonna miss you guys" routine. I had about six leis around my neck (talk about sweaty and itchy). And, being vaguely female, I was not allowed to stop dancing as long as there was an available sailor. And there were lots of available sailors.
One sailor named Thomas wrote his Navy address down on a cocktail napkin and pressed it into my hand with a look that was almost desperate. "I’m going to the most desolate place the Navy can send you," he said.
"You’re going to Barstow?" I thought, but he was serious, so I held my tongue. This was beginning to feel like a 1942 goodbye from a foggy dock in England, except that I had been drinking mai tais . . . Turns out he just wanted me to write to him. Sounds like a line, but it wasn’t.
I didn’t know they had mail service in Barstow.
Anyway, we closed the place down, which, in Maui in 1987, was 4:00 a.m. Our designated driver was Deb – an old woman in her late 30s who had a car as big as an aircraft carrier. We waited in the rain for the valet to bring the big old Caddy to us. When the car splashed up to the curb, our jaws hit the sidewalk: convertible.
"Quick – put the top up, Deb!"
"Can’t – it doesn’t work."
Oh. Okay. So about eight or nine of us piled into the car, and Deb floated the car out onto the expressway. The windshield wipers were probably on the same malfunctioning electrical circuit as the convertible roof, because they didn’t work, either. Deb took it in stride. She stood up and peered over the windshield to see. How she did that while driving I’ll never know, but we made the three-mile trip up the road to Honokowai Beach Park.
Two other carloads of people from our group pulled up just before us, and out of the cars like so many clowns poured my friends, some peeling off clothing as they emerged.
We were, apparently, going skinny dipping. I took off my jewelry.
A fourth car pulled up at that moment, but it wasn’t one of our group. No, this was a police car.
"The park is closed," the officer stated flatly. "What are you folks doing here?"
"Oh, well, we’re here to see that Harmonic Convergence thing, Officer," some genius declared. I silently thanked that genius, even though the cop and the rest of us knew that nothing of that astral event could be seen from sea level on a rainy night. But it bought us enough time for the advance group of would-be skinny dippers to slink back to the cars, scrambling for clothing in the dark.
The cop really saved our hides (other than not arresting us), because anyone who knows anything about the ocean knows that sharks feed at night. And anyone who knows anything about Honokowai Beach Park knows that swimming there is not easy, as it has a coral and lava rock bottom. At least it did on August 17, 1987.
Back into the cars for the ride home. It was then that we noticed that we had at least two strangers with us. The whispering started. "I thought they were with you!" "ME? I’ve never seen them before. Aren’t they sailors?"
EPILOGUE: Once back on the mainland I maintained a pen pal relationship for several months with Thomas the sailor. The most desolate place on earth isn’t Barstow, apparently – it’s a rock in the middle of the Indian Ocean known as Diego Garcia. The last correspondence I ever received from Thomas was a Christmas present. He sent me a real pith helmet. Not sure why he had it – was it government issue? Was there a pith helmet store on the island? Would he regret not having it later? Don’t know. I just know it is one of the coolest gifts I have ever received.
I was forever cured that night of the desire to skinny dip at a public beach.
Magic Johnson owes me a dance.
*totally lying about Quetzalcoatl, of course