Today is Kahuna’s birthday. Now I will tell you what he got for his birthday several years ago.
I had just had a really devastating year. The man that I had been involved with turned out to be everything bad I hoped he wasn’t. I moved a million miles away from the home I had made and my family. I lost my life, not that it was a good life but it was comfortable, like an old pair of sneakers. They stink and look like crap but when you need comfortable or routine you put them on and wear them around. I didn’t realize that they made my feet stink and I wouldn’t listen when everyone told me that they didn’t fit and weren’t good for me. No I just kept on wearing them even though they pinched my toes and rubbed blisters on my heels. I was going to make them better, newer, nicer. Then one day the sole got separated and the laces fell apart all at once. I had to admit I was never going to make them better.
I got a new job and a new place to live and tried to make a new life. I was so lonely, hurt, heartbroken and disappointed. I vowed that I would never again date or get involved with a man. I had long talks with my mother, father, brother, sister, brother-in-law, the wall, the rocks the ceiling and my dog, Killer. After one long lament my daddy looked at me and said “Gladys your picker is broke. You need to stop pickin men. When the right one comes along he’ll pick you.”
Then one night at a party an acquaintance grabbed my arm and said he had someone I needed to meet. He dragged me over to the side of the dance floor and there was this man. He was distinguished looking but when he looked at me he really looked at me. We chatted for a few minutes and he listened really listened to what I said. I recognized his name from our client list. I let him guide the conversation and then a co-worker grabbed me and dragged me onto the dance floor. I looked for Kahuna after the song was over but he was nowhere to be found. I didn’t hear from him or see him for a week or so after that. I was alone in the office New Years Eve, everyone had left early. I stayed and worked because honestly I had nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. The phone rang and it was a familiar voice. We spoke about business then he said “I know this is late notice and I don’t normally go out on New Year Eve; but would you like to go to the movie?” I did not answer him right away. I asked him to call me back in an hour.
I am going to be honest with you, I didn’t want to go. I mean who would after the trouble I had with men. I instead called my sister who was vacationing two thousand miles away. I talked to her and told her the story and asked her what she thought, and then I called my mother and father and asked them what I should do. I asked the kid that worked the take-out window at the In and Out Burger what I should do. Let me just warn you, you really don’t want to hold up that line. When people want an In and Out they do not want to listen to you kvetch about your life. I asked the wall and the door and anybody and anything that would listen. I was scared.
I did what everyone told me to do. Go out with him. They all said that he seemed like a nice guy. They all found him honest, sincere and truthful not like any of my other dates or boyfriends. Okay again some honesty here I thought he wasn’t my type and he wasn’t. I met him at the movie theater. We sat down, the lights went dark and he began to talk. He talked through the whole movie and I thought “Oh no! A movie talker. Strike One.” Then he asked if I would like to get a bite to eat and we talked all through dinner. Then I told him good night and he called me to make sure I made it home and we talked some more.
I told him my whole life story that night and you know what he did? He didn’t run away. He didn’t flee rending his clothes and tearing out his hair screaming down the street. He sat there and listened. He really listened. I’m not sure if I told him my situation because I wanted to scare him off or if I just needed to tell my story, but he listened and he asked questions.
We started seeing each other periodically after that. Nothing serious, nothing steady just a date here and there. I always met him wherever we were going. I kept my distance and he respected that. He watched as I struggled with another relationship I had with a mutual friend. He never said anything. One evening over sushi he asked me if I was interested in this other guy and I couldn’t really say I was; but I knew the man was wrong for me. He was just like the man I had left and deep down I knew it wasn’t a good match but I thought I could fix him. Kahuna looked me in the eye and said “you know he’s not right for you. I am.” That is when I knew he was serious about me.
That is when we started dating in earnest. Then he invited me to go to Hawaii. It was the first part of September and I had a long weekend coming up not to mention I had been working seventy hours a week so I had a little comp time coming. I packed my bag and headed to the airport. We started to board and they ushered us to first class. I thought that Kahuna was really pulling out all the stops. Then we arrived in Hawaii and it was the most beautiful, romantic place I had ever been. Then he took me out in the crystal clear pacific swell and put me on a surf board. He patiently and lovingly shared his passion with me. I was truly in paradise.
We woke the morning of his birthday and grabbed some fresh pineapple and shaved coconut. We drove up to Pali Lookout where 30 years ago he and a group of his friends ventured. I didn’t realize that it was going to be so windy on the lookout and had chosen a big circular skirt for the excursion. So here I stood looking out over the windward side of the island holding on to my skirt when I feel as if I am being watched. I look up to see a Japanese tour bus unload and stand on the ledge above Kahuna and I. They were laughing and pointing. I turned back to Kahuna who stood ring in hand and he said “I promise that I will never ever cause you pain. I promise I will never break your heart and I will never hurt you. Please promise you will be my wife.” I stood there frozen. I felt the tears well and my heart beat loudly. The crowd was taking pictures but I couldn’t let go of my skirt or it would blow over my head. My head was filled with all kinds of thoughts, fears and trepidations but I heard my daddy in my head saying “Gladys your picker’s broke. You let them choose you.” I said the only thing I could say, yes.
I guess you could say that I was Kahuna’s birthday present that year. I think it’s better said that he is my birthday present for the rest of my life.
Saturday at the Maul
15 hours ago