A Hawaiian Manicure and Other Glimpses
A HAWAIIAN MANICURE
A week-long cruise around the Islands in Hawaii was decided by the Turkey group, a Bell Labs softball team. It is a non-stop fun time. On-board cultural classes are offered. I have opted for hula-dancing lessons, while others enrolled in ukulele classes, or the art of stringing leis.
On the first day, we pile into a rented minivan. We drove around the big island, and we stopped at sugar-cane farms, guava orchards, and a grove of cashew-nut trees. Later in the evening, Renee and I walk into a store and buy identical dresses. Not exactly muumuus, but close. Johnny and Chuck do not recognize us as we step out in our new togs. They don’t understand why we spent money on identical dresses instead of borrowing each others. Men!
The visit to the USS Arizona is emotionally charged. Moist eyes, sniffing, and lumps in many a throat at the watery grave of hundreds of US naval personnel. The stop at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is gut-wrenching. The thought of the thousands who did not make it back home alive is inconceivable. I observe the mix of tourists. Many are Japanese, unsure if they can read the English inscriptions on the walls detailing the atrocities.
The next afternoon, Johnny and I did our own thing. I want to see Queen Emma’s summer palace. We drive up, and it looks like an ordinary four-bedroom ranch-style home with a commanding ocean view. John would rather sit outside, but I opt to take the tour. In the living room was a 150-year-old German wedding gift piano. The tour guide looks around and asks, “Any pianists? It still plays.” I mention Johnny and point to the outside. “He is not part of the tour.” In a flash, the guide goes off and hustles Johnny in. He sits at the piano, flexes his fingers, and wows the small crowd. Rachmaninoff’s Third Symphony played by this concert pianist has a mesmerizing effect on people. There is applause and I raise my camera but am stopped. No photography is allowed within the palace walls. A major disappointment! We complete the tour, and Johnny whispers, “I’m glad I got to play that ancient piano.”
That evening we have the most expected event of the entire week, heavily publicized by the Cruise Lines. An out-of-town trip to a Luau. The Luau has good food and superb entertainment, and even the Turkeys join in with the dancers. The bus ride back is one for the history books.
Johnny and I are seated behind Renee and Pat, who are busy nattering. Renee has her arm draped across the back of the seat. Her professionally manicured nails gleam enticingly at John. A dark shadow passes over his face, and he grins wickedly. I look at him and dread whatever is going through his beer-sotted mind. My whispered warning, “Don’t do whatever you are thinking of,” provokes a dismissive toss of the head.
Silently, barely moving, he reaches into his pants pocket. His hand emerges with the fingernail clipper in its grasp. I suspect his fiendish thoughts. A demanding “Don’t” accompanies my hard pinch. But the Devil has a firm grip on him and Johnny will do what Johnny does best. To annoy, a best friend’s wife is horrible.
Slow and steady, he aims to clip one of Renee’s nails. A family from Australia is sitting behind us with their two kids. John has been exchanging teen banter with them from the start of the trip. The two, wide-eyed and bated breaths, watch John. They see the evil smirk on his face. The two grin ear-to-ear and get their cameras ready. Fists clenched, arms pumping, they are whispering eagerly under their breath, “Yes, yes, yes!”
Johnny clips one nail amidst flashing lights. Cameras capture the aghast look on Renee’s and Pat’s faces. They instantly jump up, pile on John, and pummel him with furious fists.
“It was not me! It was not me! My evil twin made me do it!”
Other Turkeys are standing or turning around to watch the commotion with fake sympathy. None of them dare applaud Johnny in true Turkey style for fear of upsetting Renee even more.
“Of course, it isn’t you–it never is. Must be Pat,” they remark.
Back in their seats, Renee is busy filing her damaged nail, shooting searing looks at John. John sits in his seat with his head down, for the rest of the ride back, pretending to be sorry. He is pleased as punch, tittering a “Tee-he-he” every few minutes at what he has gotten away with. He knows he has outdone himself with this little devilry and is mighty proud of himself.
The rest of the week and our Hawaiian vacation passes in one big blur.
Mara is driving her truck with me riding. She is a horsewoman and has acreage for her horses. I ask about the trees on the ranch. A few orange trees grow in Florida. Scarce remnants of the wide-flung orange groves which once covered the entire landscape. The orchards are now subdivided into smaller, more marketable ranches for sale. The original panorama is history.
“Oranges?” I say, “Did you say oranges?”
This reminds me of my orange tree and I ask her, “Want to hear my orange story?”
“Sure, why not?” she replied.
A couple of orange trees in my backyard are heavy with ripening fruit. Spotting smirches of black mold upon them, it takes an entire afternoon on a stepladder to pluck them. And now, about two hundred oranges, piled high in the laundry sink, need washing. I have two long days at school coming up before the weekend. I ask Johnny Boy, to clean the oranges, so I can juice and freeze all two hundred over the break. It is not a golf day, so, happily, he agrees.
Before I left for school, I reminded him of the oranges once again. He’d finished reviewing the stock market and was now playing solitaire on the computer. He pushed his chair back and ambled toward the laundry area. With one glance at the piled load, he cringes at the thought of scrubbing two hundred oranges, one by one. The washing machine is sitting right next to the laundry sink. The engineering brain, always clicking, problem-solving, cracks this one. An “Aha!” moment.
Checking the machine for any leftover clothes, he carefully dumps all the oranges into it. He even adds some detergent to get rid of the mold. He turns on the machine and is satisfied with the sound of water filling it. Mighty pleased with his brilliance, he returns to his solitaire game but a thunderous outburst startles him. Lightning fast, he turns to see the lid fly open. A glorious volcanic eruption! Orange mush, watery juice, suds, and smithereens peel, are spurting up high and raining down. Hurriedly, he turns off the machine and surveys the mess all around. Surfaces are dripping with froth, foam, and soggy orange piece parts. Ceiling, cabinets, freezer, floor, nothing is spared. And a saving grace–a pleasant citrus aroma fills the small area.
The aroma lingers-the bouquet greets me as I step into the house from the garage. I am puzzled but pleased with the dingy old laundry area looking bright and clean. The top of the shelves and cabinets lining the walls in that narrow space are sparkling white. I dismiss it as games being played by my tired eyes.
Mara looks at me with a “You are kidding, aren’t you?”
“No, I am not! The story doesn’t end there.”
“There is more?”
“Of course, there is more. The laundry area is spiffy and spotless, but what of the oranges?”
Mara has parked in front of the restaurant, and I turn to get out. But Mara is busy. Her head is down on the steering wheel, and her fists are pummeling the seat.
I continue with my story. There is a mushy mess in the washing machine. John peers into the washer, and sees not all the oranges are smashed into slush. He goes to the kitchen and fetches the largest stainless-steel basin to retrieve the undamaged fruit. He sees the dishwasher, and another brainwave hits him.
The dishwasher has some dirty dishes which he piles into the sink. He retrieves all the whole oranges from the washer and arranges these in neat rows on the top shelf. Skipping the detergent, he runs the dishwasher on the Fine China cycle, making sure the dishwasher is humming, and no threatening noises emanating. He cleaned the mush out of the washing machine, and ran a couple of rinse cycles to get the inside passably clean. Then he tackled the dripping mess in the rest of the laundry area.
Later in the day, he opened the dishwasher and, lo-and-behold, mission accomplished. Rows of gleaming oranges, not a trace of a black smudge on them, wink back at Johnny Boy.
Upon entering the house, I see a couple of grocery bags full of clean oranges. “I cleaned up the oranges,” yells a voice from the den. “I discarded the bad ones.”
The truth comes out a couple of days later. As he sat across from me at the kitchen island as I was squeezing and freezing the OJ, Johnny Boy cracked up, delirious. He was pleased as punch at his accomplishments and went into painful details. It’s good to hear it’s over and the laundry area got thoroughly cleaned. Johnny Boy’s former boss was right; negative experiences do not exist for him.
FREDDIE IS SO MESSY
John is picking me up in Tampa on my return from a long trip overseas. I am exhausted, but the update on his week is soothing and relaxing.
“Freddie is so messy,” says Johnny.
“Oh!” I think. Is the pot calling the kettle black?
Fred is visiting Florida. Mummy, Juji, Tara, and Dusty will join us soon. It’s the annual Member-Guest Golf Tournament at the Mission Valley Country Club. Fred and John have been partnering for years.
Fred had woken up early this morning and had the coffee going. John greeted Duchy as he searched for the creamer.
Duchy asked, “John-John, where’s the creamer?”
“In the freezer–the old one was almost empty.”
Fred reached into the freezer and loosened the cap a little. He placed it into the microwave to thaw while reading the newspaper.
John entered the kitchen, poured himself a cup of coffee, retrieved the creamer from the microwave, and shook it a bit to get it flowing. The slightly unscrewed cap flew off, spurting the creamer on everything around.
The half-asleep Johnny Boy, fully awake now, yelled,
“Hey Duchy, see what you did?”
Fred looked up from the paper and went to see what was happening after hearing John swear. They look at the mess and each other, bursting into laughter.
“Why are you blaming me?” Fred asks. “You did this.”
“Yes, you! Did you expect me to place a frozen, sealed bottle in the microwave? You would have a bigger mess than this to clean up.”
Johnny Boy corrected Fred.
“You would be cleaning this up instead of me.”
Together, they cleaned up the area before them with much gusto. And having lots of fun.