Shoes and Ships and Ceiling Wax

Him and I sit across from one another in the corner seat at Kincaid’s, looking out over the ocean. The sun has settled into its late afternoon descent into night, smearing an orange-yellow haze everywhere. We stare out the window under the protection of a lowered shade. Another round of oysters Rockefeller shows up. My friend looks dismayed.

“What, again?”

“You were in the bathroom,” I say. “I got lonely.”

He frowns, glances down at the steaming half-shells on the sizzling pewter plate.

“Come on,” I say, raising my martini. He sighs, raises a pint of something with me. New Castle, I think. We toast.

“Cheers,” he nods, taking a big swig. I sip my third slower than my first two.

“What is it with you and happy hour?” he asks, setting down the beer. I think about it.

“Here or anywhere?”

“I don’t know. Does the answer change?”

“Food, half-priced. And drinks. It’s an excuse to go out.”

“When have you ever needed an excuse to go out?”

Midway through bringing an oyster to my plate, I raise an eyebrow at him. Touché. He shakes his head. Eats an oyster. Continues.

“I’m serious. It’s like a thing with you.”


“Yeah, that. Drinking.” He leans back, looks around at the full lounge behind him. “This.”

“That. This. Humor me with specifics,” I tell him. He shakes his head. Forget it.

“It’s just always something is all,” he says. “Always some kind of twist or surprise or something that will end up as one of your stories, somewhere.”

“You really think that this—us eating oysters at Kincaid’s—that I’m going to make that a story?”
He doesn’t bat an eye when he says yeah. “Why wouldn’t you?” he adds. “You did with that other one, when you were at Ryan’s.”

“That was different.”

“How was that different?”

“You’re not her.”

He stops. Leans over and takes another oyster, looking at me to see if he’s crossed a line. I down more of the martini and swirl the remaining third of it around in the glass.

“I just mean, it’s all in restaurants or bars. Inside all the time. Why can’t we be out there—” he says, nodding his head to the right. I glance to his right, my left.

“Outside,” I declare.


“Doing what?”

“Enjoying Hawaii.”

“Are we not? I don’t know what you’re getting at.”

“I know! That’s the point. Okay, let me just get this straight. You don’t own a pair of slippers.”




“Something at least to swim in?”

“No—and you know this. I can barely swim.”

“How can you not know how to swim? You live in Hawaii.”

I laugh. “What does that have to do with anything? Does my not being a good swimmer keep me from swimming to California?”

He waves a hand at me. Goes back to his beer.

“No, I understand where you’re coming from.” I say, nodding. “I do. I’m very strange, I get it. You win.”

“It’s not that, just that you live in this amazing, beautiful place, and…”

His voice trails off as he stares into his beer.


“And it’s sad that you can’t appreciate this.”

He gestures towards the window. Out there, below us, a gaggle of tourists on segways whiz along the sidewalk as the rush hour traffic collects in droves on the road. On the water, a small tan figure stands on the deck of his sailboat and releases the thick rope keeping it anchored to shore. He starts to float out of the bay.

“I’ve never been much of an outdoorsy person,” I say, watching the scene outside.

“I know, man. I just wish you could tune into it all a little better,” he says.

I stare out the window. The sun has set a little more, casting a golden glow on the street and the shine softens as the low hanging clouds water down the sunlight. The red light at the Ward Avenue intersection turns green and the cars scoot past as quickly as they can. Beyond them, the little boat is almost out of the pier.

“The view,” I say, still staring out the window. “Add that to my list of reasons I’m here. Put it in front of the food and the drinks.”

“What?” he asks, going for another oyster. He follows my gaze outside, and squints at the sunlight for a moment, before averting his eyes back to the table.

“Oh, out there. Whatever, it’s the same old Ala Moana Boulevard. Pot holes and all the usual crap.”

I glance at my friend, who’s munching on the oyster and has now taken to scanning the lounge for women. I look back outside. The man on the boat has caught the current and the dinghy’s progressing out. He checks the sails before turning to stare into the setting sun over the Pacific Ocean. He soaks up the view and the salty ocean air. Trade winds blow his hair in every which way and he takes a deep breath. Feels free.

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