We got to Maui yesterday. I’d only been here a few hours when I felt half my age. Actually, less than half. For I was “carded” while buying some groceries at the Napili Market. Ah, the joy! I immediately thought that I must be the most youthful-looking fifty-six year old on earth when a checker asked to see my driver’s license before he’d sell us the wine that Laurel had put in our basket.
Unfortunately, it turns out that Maui County has a law requiring proof of 21-ness before alcoholic drinks can be sold to anybody. This seems ridiculous, especially in light of the fact that whenever we walk down Lahaina’s Front Street, we usually get a few open requests from locals to sample what, in the old 60’s days, was called Maui Wowie. Apparently the sale of alcohol is more heavily regulated on Maui than the sale of marijuana. Clearly the checker also found the law senseless, since he gave us a rant about useless government regulation while he was bagging our groceries.
So that’s one new thing about Maui we’ve discovered on this, our 15th visit to the island. The weekly comics in both the Maui and Honolulu newspapers are in color now—that’s also new. And it’s also new that, on our first day here, the weather is windy and showery. Almost always we’ve been treated to nice weather until near the end of our stay, but Maui decided to throw us a change-up this year.
Oh well. The view is still beautiful from our Napili Shores condo. Note the intrepid Napili Bay beach-goers in the foreground. Quite a few vacationers aren’t deterred from enjoying the ocean by breezy trade winds and frequent showers. Especially kids, who I can hear screaming happily in the surf right now even as it’s sprinkling.
When you’re wet all over, does it matter if it’s raining? I lived out this adage on our own mostly-dry beach visit this afternoon when a passing shower spurred me to my daily Maui ritual of swimming back and forth across Napili Bay. Thirty minutes, non-stop. My style is of my own invention, designed to lessen the chance of a contact lens washing out: twenty side-strokes, then ten modified back-strokes; repeat for about two and a half crossings of the bay.
Like they say about fishing, for us a bad day on Maui is better than almost all good days anywhere else. I love going to sleep with the sound of waves. I love eating small sweet bananas that are so much tastier than the bland variety we get on the mainland. I love how everyone, locals and visitors alike, are almost universally relaxed, laid-back, hang-loosed.
This wasn’t the case with Laurel, though, as our Hawaiian Airlines flight from Portland was boarding. One of our “charming” married-for-15-years rituals (it’s more charming to me than to Laurel) is that whenever we fly, she says “Please, don’t wait to get on at the last minute like you always do,” and I say, “Don’t worry, I’ll be at the gate twenty minutes before takeoff, like I always am.”
I have carefully researched boarding rules. The general policy of airlines seems to be that the plane door is closed ten minutes before takeoff, and passengers are to be on board fifteen minutes before takeoff. So getting on the plane twenty minutes early is entirely in order, especially since my carry-on bag is able to fit under the seat in front of me. It doesn’t have to be squeezed, defying all the laws of compression physics, into an overhead compartment half the size of the bag—the annoying practice of so many other passengers.
Yesterday, after indulging in our habitual “She says, He says” argument, Laurel suggested that we ask the Hawaiian gate personnel their opinion. “Great,” I replied, confident that airline regulations were on my side. And indeed, the guy we queried said, “If you’re at the gate twenty minutes before departure, that should be fine.”
“Yes!” I cried, pointing two index fingers at Laurel and doing a little victory dance around her, while the Hawaiian Airlines person did his best to look down at some paperwork and avoid taking sides in what so obviously was a (minor) marital spat.
Looking back at the moment, though, in my excitement at winning our argument I didn’t pay enough attention to another comment the gate guy made: “The scheduled departure was 10:00 am, and the plane is now supposed to take off at 10:21.” In hindsight, I should have given the word “supposed” more weight.
So my personal pre-take off preparations, which included a leisurely perusal of the Oregonian sports page in the stall of an airport rest room, didn’t take sufficient account of the fact that when a scheduled departure is changed from 10:00 to 10:21, the airline does its best to leave as close to 10:00 as possible, notwithstanding the assurance made by the gate guy that I could show up at 10:00, no problem.
When I exited the restroom just down from the gate at 9:59, feeling right on schedule and pleasantly lighter compared to when I entered, the first thing I noticed—indeed, couldn’t help but notice, was that a blonde-haired woman, who bore a remarkable resemblance to Laurel, was waving her hands and screaming at someone, who seemingly was me, “Hurry up! They’re holding the plane for you!”
“Ah, another little joke by Laurel,” I thought, barely hastening my steps. “Run! Run! They’re going to leave without you!” Which, as it turned out, was disturbingly close to the truth. I was the last one on board, and we had to kick a woman out of one of our seats who had been told by a flight attendant, “Everyone should be on the plane by now; you can choose a different open seat now.”
Maybe this will teach me a lesson. Maybe. I still believe the constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment, such as forcing a man over 6’ 1” into a coach seat designed for female gymnasts. Five and a half hours flight time from Portland to Maui struck me as long enough punishment; I didn’t want to endure any extra minutes.
But what the heck. Marriage is all about compromises. Next flight I’ll be at the gate twenty minutes before the scheduled departure—the original scheduled departure. And Laurel will be ready to go when I say, “It’s time to leave for the movie or we’ll be late!”
Change, it can happen at any age. Especially the age when you're youthful enough to be carded at the grocery store. Which on Maui, is any age. I love Maui: the ever-young island.