“That was you!! We heard you! On the radio! This morning! We know it was you! Even Mrs. Turnbeaugh said it was you because you told her you did it!”
Seriously. Who expects teenagers to be up at 4:30 in the morning, listening to an “oldies” station?! The Bill and Bob Morning Show out of Reno was the source of probably half of Nevada learning of my “secret.” Thank God this was in the years before it was almost mandatory to take offense at anything that tickles one’s fancy, otherwise I would have most likely been out of a job!
There was no denying it. “Yes,” I sighed to the five grinning teens standing around my desk. “I did indeed do a flip off the cabin of a sailboat into Lahaina Harbor.” It was, at the moment of take-off, an Olympic worthy somersault. Until smackdown. Face first. Sobering, literally.
“Yeah, well, that’s not all of it, is it,” asked one student, leaning over my desk with a wicked Joker’s grin on his face. “You jumped off………NAKED! In front of HUNDREDS (not quite, but a lot!) of Japanese tourists on another boat! After you did a dance and waved at them!”
Jeez, kid……….JUST. SHUT. UP!
“And those tourists all had cameras aimed straight at you!” another grinning gremlin chimed in.
I couldn’t deny any of it because I had called into the Bill and Bob show at 4:30 in the morning to reply to a question the DJs had posed to their listeners: What was the most memorable summer vacation you ever had? I answered. Stupid.
My friend and teaching colleague, MK, and I had been invited to Maui to work for the summer in a little gift shop, The Ladybug, while the owners travelled to the mainland to buy more inventory. Who could pass up such a deal: eight weeks in Hawaii, free condo with pool and ocean access, cars for personal use, a cute little Shih Tzu to cuddle, plus a paycheck! Vacation lottery!!
The Ladybug was a popular little shop, selling mostly brass knickknacks, as well as jewelry some clothes, etc….typical tourist fare. It’s location, under the huge Banyan tree right next to Lahaina Harbor, made it a popular stop for anyone cruising the main drag. We met many people, one of whom was a charismatic, seafaring adventurer, having piloted his sailboat from port Los Angeles all the way to Maui. Can’t recall his name, but he was a “salty dog,” with a huge personality, and it was he who introduced me to those devastating Hawaiian hurricanes while hosting a party of six aboard his boat. This Jolly Roger crew became my very enthusiastic cheer squad as the hurricanes made landfall in my brain.
Ahhh, Youth. You sly, gamboling imp, full of both promise and deceit. You’re the reason so many people say, “Here, hold my beer, and watch this!” You’re the reason for emergency room visits. You’re the reason, along with the hurricanes, that I stripped off my bathing suit, climbed the ladder of the pilot house, flashed the peace sign….among other things!..danced, shouted and waved like a chattering monkey at a boat load of Japanese tourists, all with about six cameras each, shutters clicking madly in the direction of the wildly capering “gaijin,” who then obligingly performed a hairy butt flip into the clear, harbor waters.
The face plant and several gallons of sea water up my nose and down my throat were sufficient enough to bring about some semblance of, “what the hell am I doing?” I managed to flounder around the stern of the boat to grab the bottom step of the bobbing ladder, and after several attempts and many drunken, helpful hands pulling me up, I found myself back on deck. Can’t remember how I got back into my two piece. I do remember being of sound enough mind to refuse another hurricane. I’ve refused them ever since.
Of course, by the start of classes that day, my version of the old school hack, “what did you do on your summer vacation,” had made the rounds. I had to repeat it so many times, I thought, “Why don’t I just get on the school PA system and let the entire school population know that I got drunk on hurricanes, stripped, did a dance in front of God knows how many foreign tourists, forever sealing their conclusions that Americans are nuts, while they snapped hundreds of pretty explicit photos of my bare butt!” Thankfully, I didn’t have to make a trip to the principal’s office to explain my actions, nor did I ever. There were no future phone calls or conferences from outraged parents. Might have had something to do with us all being friends, anyway! That, and people were just way cooler “in the day!”
That was definitely a summer to file away, and pull from the memory banks on cold, wintry days, or when I struggle with the idea of putting on a bathing suit! And, it’s strange to think, that on the other side of the world, some old Japanese granny and grandpa might periodically pull out a dusty old photo album, sharing photos and memories with grandkids, possibly great-grandkids, of their Hawaiian vacation and the harbor “entertainment” they witnessed on a waning summer’s afternoon. Just wish I was still that skinny.