Monday, April 8, 2013

Dispatch from The Road

I write to you from my bed on the 15th floor of the Sheraton Waikiki at 0319 local time, my body clock starkly disagreeing with whatever time zone this is.  I am here for for a few days, including a little talk I'll give on Thursday morning.  A reasonable mix of business and pleasure, I realize that many people have things much worse than I this week.
Evening view from my balcony

Of great interest is my scheduled dinner companion tonight, known here to fellow readers as "General Dan", first introduced as "Colonel Dan". Dan's stationed out here in this little slice of paradise now, and seems to be genuinely enjoying every minute of it.  But then again, Dan seems to enjoy every minute of every day, irrespective of where he is.  Which is just one of the six hundred reasons he's a really good Soldier.

Traveling here was somewhat uneventful, after a bit of a flat start.  I chose to fly direct from Dulles to Honolulu, which requires a 104 mile drive to the airport.  This was no problem, and I arrived plenty early, hoping to enjoy a leisurely pre-flight repast in order to try and make it through the 10:45 flight without having to order a meal.  But our friends at TSA helped burn much of that available time, apparently beset by the evils of Sequestration and manning fewer security lines than the great throng suggested appropriate. I must admit to initially feeling that what they were doing was passive-aggressive grandstanding in order to support their protestation of the horrors of Sequestration, but then decided that as someone who believed we should go through with it, I should manfully endure whatever inconvenience was due me for the pleasure of cutting the federal budget.  And so I did, striking up a conversation with the gent in front of me, a well-turned out gent of my age heading to Kiawah Island, SC on business.  He was a big Romney supporter, and whispered his disbelief that his wife voted for Obama.  "She's living the good life, big house in Leesburg, no work outside the home, gym everyday, etc., all of which is in the cross-hairs of Obama.  When I try to talk to her about it, her only response was "Romney wants to take a way a woman's right to choose".  The frustration in his voice was palpable.  Yet electoral realities must someday come into play.  A great swath of voters are ready to turn their backs on EVERY SINGLE GOOD IDEA REPUBLICANS HAVE because they think we're wrong on this one.  Makes one think, no?

The long flight was actually pleasurable.  The plane was 2/3 full, so there was plenty of overhead space (the absence of which I irrationally fear to a clinical degree).  I paid $44 extra for "Premier Boarding", which earned me a couple of other emoluments, including a separate security line (frustrated by TSA passive aggressiveness), a quicker check-in/bag drop, and early boarding.  She was a 767 with the 2-3-2 layout, and I had selected my standard left side of the plane, aisle seat (I'm an excellent driver.  Wapner).  Joy of joys, the seat next to me was empty, and remained that way throughout the flight.  I read a bit (a new civil war history) napped a bit, and re-watched two favorite movies--Moneyball and The Lives of Others. 

We arrived 15 minutes early and I was met by the smiling "Richard" at the baggage carousel to convey me to the hotel.  I asked him at one point, "are you a native" and he answered "no, I'm from the Big Island".  I sorta meant native Hawaiian, but he further delineated it.  The hotel is one of these standard, "let's build a place so that the person staying here has absolutely no reason to leave our grounds", which means it is ridiculous and overwhelming.  I have a delightful room overlooking the ocean at the government rate, which is a benefit I did not expect, especially in a comped room.

The clientele is at least 50% Japanese, and I continue to be amused by what passes for fashion among Japanese men.  As I arrived in a ravenous state, my first thoughts were of sustenance and my eye led me to the hotel's Japanese restaurant.  I figured I couldn't go wrong there, either good steak or good sushi.  I wound up having both.  Sitting at the sushi bar, I made pleasant conversation with the head sushi chef, a gregarious Japanese man who had emigrated to Hawaii in 1976 and had raised three "American" sons as he was proud to tell me.  Now some of you remember my travels in South Africa with brother Tom, a man quite incapable of not striking up conversations with the locals.  Well, I had sat down with my iPad, figuring that I would pass the time figuring out what was in the nearby neighborhood in order that I might not pay exorbitant hotel food prices each day.  But this gentleman was a chatty type--and I had a decision to make.  Should I send him a  "I'm not in the mood for conversation, please leave me with my iPad" look (standard for Bryan the Curmudgeon), or should I take on a bit of Brother Tom and enjoy the man's company. Well, I chose the latter and as you can probably already discern, it was a good decision.  I enjoyed his conversation thoroughly. Three sushi chefs stood behind the bar and greeted diners as they entered, though my back was to the new arrivals.  Each time an attractive woman entered though, their demeanor changed and an instant stream of Japanese chatter erupted among them, signalling me to turn around and espy the new talent.  They realized at one point that I was onto their game--pretty much construction workers with sushi knives--and gave me appropriate early warning on particularly attractive arrivals for the remainder of my meal.

After dinner, I went up to my room, hoping to hang on long enough to watch the season premier of "MadMen" but hanging it up about an hour beforehand.  Which of course, is a major contributor to the fact that I am blogging at 0357 in the morning.  


Tom de Plume said...

I hope the Romney supporter you were in line with exercise his "choice" and chooses a younger, more attractive mate when his wife's trips to the gym no longer work. If you're going to be with a woman who thinks like a 23 year old bimbo, why not just enjoy the real thing?

And bully for you on your attempt at being less misanthropic. Just think how much that gentleman at the restaurant enjoyed the chat.

Mudge said...

Perfectly stated TdP!

"I asked him at one point, 'are you a native'"

CW - The correct answer to that question, no matter to whom you pose it, is "yes." If you wish to get a more specific answer, you must specify a geographic location.

Bill said...

Say hello to Dan for me.

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