Monday, June 26, 2006

Hawaii Diarii, Day 9 (ex post facto edition)

Well, my trip is over. Nine-plus hours on Continental ("Work Hard, Fly Late") - and I probably made more noise than the babies I was surrounded by. Hey, you sleep sitting up, you'll snore, too.

So it's back to work, but first, here's what you missed:

• Saturday night, I made it to Taste of Hawaii, with Charles from the NYC chapter and Cathy from LA (with her friend Connie). Good food, one of those things where you buy tickets and cash them in for sampler plates. I got some pork tenderloin and some German sausage and other stuff. All tasty. Then, after some meandering to get the ill Cathy (not from the food) some medicine, it was off to bed.

• 7 a.m. (local) on Sunday, I was on a van, headed to some beach on the South shore, ready to learn to surf ("You mean the FBI... is going to pay me... to surf?"). Hawaiian Fire is run by off-duty firefighters, so I was in good hands. And of course, the ratio was four guys (two married) to like 12 girls. In bikinis. Life is good, isn't it? OK, let's make one thing clear, surfing is a sport for the in-shape and coordinated. I am neither. Let me put it this way, in the post-lesson photos, most of the girls looked like models, whereas I looked like an aquatic battering ram. Which sort of makes sense.

They gave us reef shoes, rash guard (a shirt-type thing - hmm, spandex on fat guy, bad idea) and instructions, then we were on our boards, paddling like mad out into the ocean. These itty-bitty Asian girls were ripping out there, and me and my muscles are flailing around, going absolutely nowhere. Life's not fair.

So after a couple of tries, I realized what the other big, immobile dude realized: We could just walk out there, pushing/pulling/dragging our boards. Much better.

Pretty quickly, I got the hang of it, at least to the point where I could get up on one knee and ride the board all the way in. The standing all the way up was the hard part. My feet kept getting tangled up and SPLASH!




I did manage to stand up, not once, but twice! Including my last run, so I ended a winner. Having popped on two of my last four runs, I think I was well on my way to learning. But my God, do I have to get in shape before I do that again. Oy.

• After that, lunch - Dim Sum - with some of the surfers and friends, including Susan (the organizer, yay Susan!) and HyunJu (both of whom I think I've mentioned) and Julia from NYC, and Eleanor and Miguel and the ESPN guys. One ESPN guy could talk to the waitresses and I said something about speaking Japanese, and he said, "Cantonese," and I was like, "yup, Asian." I'm so white.

• Then, I was walking around, killing time until the shuttle (lunch got done about 2, shuttle was at 6:30) because sitting in the lobby reading was making me sleepy, and I really didn't want to fall asleep in the lobby. See, I had to check out before surfing, and I checked my bags at the hotel, so I bought a book and magazine and was bumming around when I started dozing. So I started walking around to stay awake.

• Thus, two small final-day victories: First, I'd been looking for a University of Hawaii football cap since I'd arrived. So I went to that store with the aquarium, to take some pictures of the aquarium, and lo and behold, there in a corner are the hats I've been looking for all week. Not only were they the exclusive seller, I'd walked past the display in the store twice! So I got my hat, and the lady says, "don't you want a shirt, too?" and I said, "if I can't wear it, it's not going to make it on the plane." I left with two bags, one stuffed full, and came back with three bags, all stuffed full.

• Then, while meandering around with my new hat, I saw a lady passing out fliers, not for a gun range, but a restaurant. So I wandered over. Japanese BBQ. Sounds tempting... and when I got in, I discovered, you get to play with your food! That's right. Right in the middle of the table is a little charcoal grill. You order plates of raw meat, and grill it yourself. And it was delicious! Cheap, too. So delicious (and cheap) I called Susan (the only one whose number I had) and told her to tell everyone who was still staying that they had to check it out.

• Finally, it was shuttle time, and I did indeed find Amelia, my sidekick from the flight out, though we weren't sitting next to each other this time. And for me and Gen. Johnston, it was lights out.

I haven't actually been home yet - I went straight to work from the airport - but I did unpack half my luggage in the car... see, I can't find my work ID. It's either a) buried in a suitcase; b) in the hotel in Honolulu; or c) revolving around the baggage claim at Newark Airport. Oh, well, small price to pay for a good time.

And yeah, I gave my business cards to lots of pretty girls. And recruiters. Hey, what else am I going to use 'em for?

All in all, a great time. Miami in '07, baby! Thanks for reading. Hope you had as good a time reading this as I did writing it. Stay tuned for future blogging, after I take a good, long nap.

It's 5:30 local, and that's N.J. time.

The end... Back to the blog!