During courtship, a moose’s neck becomes swollen, his eyes bloodshot, and his temper short. At least he doesn’t have to dance. – Moosehead beer coaster
“Hi girls!” says Mike, the big, smiling bear of a bartender at Idini’s in Wailuku. “Baby, whatcha want to drink, honey?”
Sasha and I order our Jack and waters. Then Mike walks out from behind the bar to give us hugs and to thank us for coming. We look around the joint. There are no other women.
Six guys—locals, about 38-68 years old—sit on stools around the bar. Two men are shooting stick. They are wearing professional billiard pool gloves, which are sort of like half-gloves that are used to reduce friction and make the pool shaft slide easier, making your stroke more consistent.
Sounds dirty, doesn’t it?
“What’s with the gloves?” asks Sasha. “Is it in honor of Michael Jackson today?”
The gentlemen introduce themselves to us, and invite Sasha to play. Mike interrupts.
“I haven’t seen you in awhile,” he says.
“I’ve been surfin’,” says Sasha. “You?”
“I been surfin’ Breakwall and then Harbor Lights was breakin’,” says Mike. “I cannot surf Launiupoko—too crowded. I’d rather be with our gang when this side breaks.”
Sasha turns back to the pool players.
“Are you left-handed?” she asks, pointing to his gloved hand.
“Oh, you can use these for left or right,” he says.
“Do you have a face you make when you hit a shot?” she asks. Then she demonstrates a couple possibilities.
Another man sitting alone at the end of the bar asks Mike who we are. Mike tells him we’re his “good friends” and that if he meets us, he might read about it in the Maui Time. The man stays where he is but waves hello.
“It’s so nice to see you,” Mike says to us. “It’s been a cock fest in here for four hours!”
“You know it’s the Year of the Cock,” says Sasha.
At this point, I feel a presence over my left shoulder and look up.
“Is that your diary?” asks a man—possibly the youngest in the bar. “You’re not a private investigator, are you?”
I assuage his fears, and tell him that I merely go to bars and write about the joys and follies in the quest for inebriation and the fleeting moments of happiness therein. He seems to like this answer and even does a little victory dance for me.
“You guys like play us?” asks the pool player again. “Me and my uncle here?”
“I gotta drink my whiskey first—I play better,” says Sasha. “You’re professionals.”
“No!” he says. “We small kine amateurs!”
“Uncle, you’re not too much,” says Mike. “You’re three much!”
The Best of Zapp & Roger blasts on the stereo and Mike tells us a story of when he first moved to Maui from the Big Island. He was at a bar in Kihei, and there were three ladies at the bar with three pills in front of them.
“I said, ‘Oh, you not feeling well?’” says Mike. “They said, ‘No, this is to make you feel good on the dance floor.’ Then they danced all sexy with each other and being the perfect gentleman that I am, I got right in between them.”
Two bikers come in, order drinks and sit quietly at a table. The music of Earth, Wind and Fire has now facilitated the most enthusiastic clapping and high-note singing with the rest of the bar. Uncle Bruce unloads bags of food next to us, including pickled mango, and offers chopsticks to Sasha and me. A woman in pink walks in and sits down.
“Hey! What are you doing?” she asks me, from several seats away.
“She’s writing words to the beat of the song,” said Sasha.
As a bitchin’ saxophone solo in “Got To Get You Into My Life” kicks in, Sasha and I wonder what would happen if we cheered to “capitalism.” Then we do it anyway.
“I don’t like the sax—I never liked it in band or anything,” said Sasha. “Oh wait, I was never in band.”
Uncle leaves and comes back with a mango, which he then gives to us as a show of friendship, sharing “not in mind, but in heart.” He also thanks us for our time and heads out the door, as the two bikers rev up their Harleys and with a deafening roar, ride away. Uncle watches momentarily, gets on his moped and honks—“beep beep”—before waving goodbye.
Sasha and I are looking out the window, watching everyone leave, when she notices that the auto body yard across the street bears my surname. I explain that there’s no known connection. She redirects her attention to the semis in the same lot.
“I wonder what it’d be like to drive a big truck like that,” she says. “I saw a dead body today—or, at least it looked like a dead body—in the back of a truck. But I just put on my blinker and turned.”
Samantha Campos just flew to San Diego and the hell with the lot of you. MTW