Mr. Hawaii wouldn’t tell me what we were doing on our date. He told me he’d pick me up at 8AM and I should bring a swimsuit. On a Hawaiian island, that could mean pretty much anything.
“I’m hoping for parasailing,” I told my friend Eli over breakfast. I was staying with him and his wife Carolyn. “I’ve always wanted to do that.” You wore a swimsuit for parasailing, right? It looked fun. I thought maybe stand-up paddling was an option. That seemed to be the latest craze, and easier to do that surfing. I feared we might be taking surfing lessons. I mean, that would be a very Hawaiian thing to do, so that would be cool, but the truth is I’m not the strongest swimmer in the world. And I fear being eaten by sharks.
He was right on time and still as elusive. My friend Kevin, who had set us up, described Mr. Hawaii was “a crazy-ass Asian kid,” so I figured we’d have a good time, whatever it was he had planned. It turned out that phase one of the date wasn’t going to work out since it was raining. We stopped at the place where he had reserved a mini coupe (like a scooter but with two wheels up front and one in the back and side-by-side seats) to cancel the reservation. It looked like a fun way to get around the island, but probably not in the rain. He pointed out the Waikiki highlights as we drove, but then we headed out of the city. Hmmm.
We stopped at various places along the road to take in the scenery: Hanauma Bay (“great for snorkeling” according to Mr. Hawaii), the Halona Blow Hole, and the beach where they filmed that famous scene in From Here to Eternity where they’re rolling around in the surf kissing. It was still raining a little, but what did I care? I was in Hawaii!!!
Speaking of movies, that was one of Mr. Hawaii’s hobbies: being an extra. He’d recently scored a line in the movie Battleship (who cares that he’s Korean and the role was a Japanese captain -- all Asians look the same, right?), and he’d been in the background of scenes on Hawaii Five-O and LOST. My favorite story was how he’d sent messages to all of his friends and family telling them to watch the episode of LOST where Sun & Jin got married. He was one of the Korean guests, and he was pretty sure he’d be seen in one particular scene. All day long he got messages back from friends who said they had seen him. Even his mom sent him a message saying she was so proud to see her son on national television. He didn’t have a TV at the time, so he went to the library and watched the episode online. One problem, though: he wasn’t in it. He’d been cut out of the shot. None of his friends or family could tell; all Asians look the same, right?
After driving for a while, we pulled into Sea Life Park. Mr. Hawaii said some scenes from Fifty First Dates had been filmed here, which seemed kind of fitting, since I was kind of doing fifty first dates, but with fifty different guys instead of just Adam Sandler (and while he’s funny in a juvenile way, I think my fifty different guys were probably more entertaining). I still didn’t know for sure what we were doing. Mr. Hawaii told me to stay put and went to pay. I could see a sign with varying prices, but I wasn’t sure if he was paying for normal entrance, the stingray encounter (Isn’t that how the Crocodile Hunter died? No, thank you!), playing with sea lions, or swimming with dolphins.
We wandered around for awhile, watching the sea lion show and petting turtles. We passed by some people swimming with dolphins, and Mr. Hawaii said we were going to be doing that soon. WE WERE GOING SWIMMING WITH DOLPHINS!!! AWESOME!!! We sat and watched the dolphin show and I was so excited. I was going to be in the water with those beautiful creatures soon!
We got our life jackets on and went to the pool. It was a weekday and it was still a little drizzly, so the crowd was thin. We were two of three people in the Royal Dolphin Swim, which meant we got a lot of time with the animals. We started out by petting them and they took pictures of us kissing them. So cute! Then the real fun began. First, we went out into the deep water and held our arms out. I went first. Two dolphins came up behind me, one on each side, and I grabbed hold of their dorsal fins. They dragged me back to the shallow area. Awesome! I watched Mr. Hawaii go next. So cool! (He didn’t seem to get a mouth full of water like I did. Secret skill?) We swam back out to the deep end for the grand finale. Mr. Hawaii went first this time and I went second. We were instructed to float on our bellies with our feet flat. The two dolphins came up from behind again but this time they put their little noses on my feet and pushed me out of the water. I think I may have attracted the attention of pretty much everyone in the park with my screaming. Good screaming. Well, maybe slightly freaked out screaming, but mostly just amazed/this is awesome screaming. When in my life was I ever going to get to do this again?
It was over far too quickly. Mr. Hawaii said not to bother changing out of my suit, though, because we were going to a beach. We headed for Bellows, a private beach just for military folks. (I didn’t realize that people in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines all call Oahu home. What a great place to get stationed!) We rented boogie boards and hit the beach.
I’d tried boogie boarding once before on a mission trip to El Salvador. We worked side by side with the locals by day, building a house. Then we’d rush back to our rental house on the beach, throw on suits, and hit the ocean. Well, maybe it would be more fitting to say the ocean hit us. The waves down there were incredibly strong. My worst moment was when I couldn’t get up off the beach. The waves had flattened me, and when I tried to stand up, my feet got sucked out from under me. The waves smacked me down into the sand again, and when I tried to get up this time, the waves literally rolled me down the beach. The teenagers who were with me laughed and laughed. I'm glad I can provide cheap entertainment. When I finally managed to get up, I was covered head to toe in sand. Needless to say, boogie boarding wasn’t exactly my sport. (And btw, the swimsuit I was wearing that day still has fine gray sand embedded in its seams four years later. I swear. It was bad.)
The Hawaiian waves, though, weren’t quite as punishing. We had a great time on the nearly deserted beach. Just like Sea Life Park, we were nearly alone on this drizzly day. And even without a life jacket to hide certain parts of my physique, I wasn’t self-conscious. Mr. Hawaii was just one of those guys you know isn’t judging you, so you can relax.
We ate dinner along another beach and made plans to get together again over the weekend. My friend Kevin was right; Mr. Hawaii was definitely the right guy to hang out with on Oahu!!