The Lady likes a Lei: O'ahu Diary (Days 13 through 15)

Just a little insight into the daily crazy that D endures: I am convinced that if you actually request a lei, it undercuts all the pleasure of being given a lei.  A lei, in my mind, must be freely bestowed in order to be infused with the spirit of aloha.  The result?  Nary a lei has graced my neck in five weeks of Hawaiian residence.  Poor D, every time we encounter a lei-seller, turns to me expectantly, with the words "Would you like a lei?" tripping off his lips.  And I, mysteriously, say no, looking dejectedly at the ground.  He must be totally perplexed by now.

You might be asking yourself why I don't just say, "Surprise me with one." But this question would show a remarkable lack of crazy-literacy.  All crazy-aficionados know that this would be like a meta-request for a lei, undermining all future lei offers.  You might also ask yourself what D will say when he reads this blog entry after I have left O'ahu.  I think I might characterize his future response as "extreme frustration."  But don't worry, D - I wasn't torn up about it.  I made my own floral way around the island.  And when I think of flowers as gifts, I can't ever help but think of Dorothy Parker, whose birthday it is today:

A single flower he sent me since we met.
All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet-
One perfect rose.

I know the language of the floweret;
"My fragile leaves," it said, "his heart enclose."
Love long has taken for his amulet
One perfect rose.

Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it's always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.

Even excluding leis (and I do love a lei), O'ahu is an island of flowers.  Intense, expansive flowers.

Notice how the center of this flower glows. I am not ruling out "alien life form" as a possibility.

I fell ill this week, so I wasn't good for much but the occasional wander through the gardens around the hotel and stroll around the nearby beaches.  But, as it turned out, there was plenty to see there, if you focused on the details.  It was then that I noticed, for instance, that a man in full Hawaiian costume comes around every evening just before sunset and lights all the torches that surround the hotel.  Or that the flowers in the gardens are somehow constantly in bloom.  How do they manage it?

Even the food sometimes has a bit of a floral leaning...

We had our best meal on the island (including this dish - was it ginger and panko crusted onaga?  I can't quite remember) this week at Alan Wong's, which I gather was at the forefront of Hawai'i's great local food movement a decade and a half ago.  D started with a plate of Chinatown Roast Duck Nachos that featured ten-inch antennae that may have been transmitting reports on us to the mother ship (or possibly to that flower at the top of this post), and followed them with a steak showdown between two local beef ranches.  I had the five course tasting menu (when I was little we used to call this the "little pig" menu, when contrasted with the "big pig" seven course menu) which included, among other things, a Pacific lobster on a truffle puree..  Let me tell you, this is another beastie entirely from the delectable Nova Scotia weight-lifters I'm used to.  But a lobster in the hand is worth two in Halifax:  it was delicious.  I can't lie, however: my heart still belongs to Atlantic lobster and Maryland crabs.  Roam though I may, I am a girl of strong culinary loyalties.

Truth to tell, our meal was exceptional from start to finish, but the highlight was the drinks menu.  We are neither great drinkers of alcohol nor caffeine, but I have to say that the sweet honey tea was one of the most instantly addicting drinks I have ever tasted.  When we went to Wong's other Honolulu restaurant, The Pineapple Room, a few weeks later, I tried another of his signature drinks, a watermelon lilikoi mojito made with various savory herbs, and was almost as smitten.

Some weeks after that, D and I have come to a well-fed conclusion: we miss the gym.  I have formulated a challenge for us which will go something like this: in the thirty days after I return to Halifax, we must spend at least twenty hours apiece in cardio exercise. If any one of us manages thirty hours in that thirty days, however, we can claim a reward.  Mine, I have decided, will be the complete DVD edition of The Wire, which you can get for quite a discount nowadays.  D is still plotting what his choice will be....

2 Responses so far.

  1. JW says:

    Gosh, I had you pegged as a "big pig" menu person. Will never forget our first meal out with D. in Chapel Hill.

  2. Funny, we just told that story to someone about two days ago....

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