If you don’t like what you’re doing, you can always pick up your needle and move to another groove.
– Timothy Leary
Last Friday I really wanted to go out. I’d had enough of my recent batch of nights being broke and at home watching Project Runway and Extreme Makeover marathons, and was ready to get reacquainted with my neglected and nameless barfly kin. But I also had newfound criteria.
No Lahaina—too far and incestuous. No Wailuku—too close and
innocuous. And I wanted to find a bar that wasn’t smoky. But I also
wasn’t in the mood for a 20-something scene, and I especially didn’t
want to run into anyone I know—or at least, have seen regularly or
recently. I just wanted to go to a casual bar that wasn’t overly
friendly, loud or crowded and yet, wouldn’t make my wallet whimper.
So I went upcountry. After performing my usual meditative ritual of
not killing anyone while looking for a place to park in Paia, I took a
leisurely stroll by Jacque’s before stopping in front of the saloon
doors of Charley’s. It was not yet 10 p.m. and already lines were
forming at the entrances to both bars.
Lingering outside for a moment, I assessed the situation inside. It
looked like a good mix of people—young, older, sporty, earthy,
international and domestic—and a decent ratio of men to women.
Two rosy-cheeked hippie girls, decked out in earth tones and long
armpit hair, seemingly fascinated by the surf video playing on the
large screen, sat next to a few average joes wearing T-shirts, baseball
caps and jeans.
A table of seasoned fishermen sat across from a booth filled with
young, attractive hipsters. A couple—he with stark white hair, aloha
shirt and dark shorts, she with red wig and devil horns, black tank-top
and pants—boogied across the dance floor.
At first glance, the place did seem to fit all my requirements.
Though it wasn’t smoky, it also didn’t seem to have an available seat.
Turns out Mana’o Radio was holding a benefit, and the Mana’o Radio
Orchestra was scheduled to perform. A rumor floated amongst the smokers
in the parking lot that Willie K. or maybe even Willie Nelson might
stop by. Personally I didn’t care if Willie Ames strolled in—I just
wanted a drink.
Thankfully, an old friend—whom I hadn’t seen in a while—offered me
his prime real estate at the bar. As cocktail waitresses skirted around
me and under each other’s arms to reach their computer terminal and
checkbooks, I ordered my drink, looked around to make sure I didn’t
know anybody else and relaxed. But I think I forgot to turn off my “if
you’re on your way to being really drunk, please come talk to me”
I recognized the first guy, “Frank,” from previous encounters where
he’d been smashed and aggressively flirty. Now decidedly more coherent
and polite, Frank introduced himself to me. I didn’t have the heart to
tell him about his evil twin brother.
Another dude, after saying hi and receiving numerous refusals to
dance, proceeded to loom over me and try to read my notes out loud. I
hated doing it, but I told him to beat it.
Then I turned to the mysteriously handsome man next to me, who was
sitting quietly with his beer, occasionally smiling when the league of
belligerent suitors approached but mostly just minding his own
business. I tugged on his sleeve.
“Hey, thanks for not being obnoxious,” I said.
“Oh, you have nothing to worry about with me,” he said. “I’m gay.”
Giggling profusely, I latched onto my new gay boyfriend, who told me
he had recently done a 14-year stint in the slammer for attempted
murder. Fabulous! He said he learned how adaptable he could be, and
passed the time by working out and reading a book everyday. What a
dreamboat! And he had recently given up his high-paying job in Wailea
to do construction and live in the jungle.
“My truck keeps getting stuck in the mud,” he said. “But I’m happy.”
Of course, I was enamored.
“Yeah, and that part about me being gay?” he said. “It’s not true.”
Samantha Campos is back on the coffee now. MTW