By Richard E. Peck
We live on an island. Our Mainland friends and relatives misunderstand everything about that, starting with the time – as I learned when the phone rang at 04:00 yesterday. Oh-four-hundred. That’s the pitch-black, only-chickens-are-awake, pleasantly-cool 4:00, not the full-sun, almost-happy-hour 4:00.
“I WANTED TO GET YOU AT THE BEST TIME,” my Chicago cousin said. (He shouts on the phone because it’s a long way from Chicago to Kapa‘a.) “WHAT TIME IS IT THERE?”
“four, in, the, morning,” I told him, through clenched teeth.
“FIVE HOURS DIFFERENCE, RIGHT? SO IT’S PROBABLY AFTERNOON, ALREADY, RIGHT?”
“OH. DID I WAKE YOU UP?”
“I had to get up anyway, to answer the phone.”
“GOOD! OKAY. SO YOU REMEMBER THE RUPERTS, RIGHT? “
“what?… who? … what?”
“MIKE RUPERT AND GINNY. LIVE THREE HOUSES DOWN THE BLOCK FROM US, YELLOW HOUSE, BIG PRIVET HEDGE OUT FRONT.”
“it’s four in the morn – ”
“OKAY! SO . . . BIG COINCIDENCE. HE’S GOING TO HAWAI‘I NEXT WEEK, HIS VACATION, AND YOU COULD SHOW HIM AROUND. YOU KNOW, BEST PLACES TO EAT, BEST FISHING SPOTS, GIVE HIM SOME TIPS ON WHAT BOAT TO BUY.
“a boat? … what do you mean, a ‘boat?’ – d’you know what time it–?”
“‘CAUSE YOU LIVE ON AN ISLAND. OKAY, SO YOU PEOPLE GOT BOATS OUT THE WAZOO. – A BASS BOAT, I THINK HE WANTS, RIGHT? WHAT KINDA BOAT D’YOU TAKE TO WAIKIKI?”
“NO. WHAT KINDA BOAT?”
“it’s more’n 100 miles. we fly. I don’t know anything about boats.”
“WELL YOU GOT THAT BIG FERRY I READ ABOUT.”
“AT LEAST SHOW HIM AROUND.”
We get called on for tourist guiding all the time, like you, so – dutifully – I asked, “Which island is he visiting?”
“HAWAI‘I, I TOLD YOU. HE’S GOING TO HAWAI‘I.”
“there are seven islands. Eight, if you count – ”
“JEEZ! ARE YOU LISTENING? HE’S GOING TO HAWAI‘I, WHERE YOU LIVE.”
“I live on Kaua‘i. One of the – ”
“WHO IS THIS? IF YOU’RE NOT MY COUSIN RICHARD, WHY’D YOU TAKE THE CALL?” He slammed the receiver down.
And he’s my well-traveled haole cousin. Just three years ago he visited Milwaukee. If I ever go there I’ll have him take me on his Harley to show me some cheese.
- Richard E. Peck is a part-time Kaua‘i resident and a retired president of three universities. He has written numerous books, plays, columns and TV shows, and his work can be seen at www.richardepeck.com.