Sunday, January 11, 2009

Royal Hawaiian

Ted Trimmer Sunset
(Click on photo to enlarge!)

"The universe is an intelligence test."
Timothy Leary

“We are the boat, we are the sea, I sail in you, you sail in me."
Lorre Wyatt

"A smiling face is half the meal."

Latvian Proverb

Today I saw the press release below about the re-opening of my neighbor, the "Pink Lady."

"The Royal Hawaiian - PR/Media
2259 Kalakaua Avenue Honolulu, HI 96815
WAIKĪKĪ BEACH, HAWAII (December 4, 2008) – The iconic Royal Hawaiian will reclaim its place in modern history again when it emerges from a multi-million dollar renovation on Tuesday, January 20, 2009, the same day Hawai‘i-born President-elect Barack Obama is sworn in to office."
. . . Reading it started a flood of memories . . . Forget breakfast at Tiffany’s. It’s lunch at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel that makes me feel (to quote Holly Golightly) that “Nothing bad could possibly happen to you there.” Strolling towards the Pink Lady I always feel a wee pang of guilt towards my familiar secret lunch indulgence: the Hale Kulani, which remains decidedly “heavenly” despite the new Beach Walk Project jostling outside her peaceful precincts. The Royal is still hidden away like the celebrity she always was, though structural improvements (less cement!) at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center right next door have opened her secret groves considerably. I can't wait to resume my secret lunches there soon. Walking the grand driveway I always look up to the pink cupola that defines Royal style. An atmospheric patina embraces her graceful Spanish influenced architecture. The Miami-pink livery of the doormen nicely burnishes my sense of entering a special place. Inside, the lobby was a Hollywood castle; and I always expected to see a golden-age movie star stroll by. Believe me, they did back in the day. Still do. (Shhhhh!) The Royal is undeniably a rich piece of the history of Waikiki and of Hawaii. I hope they haven't changed too much! Perhaps you’ve seen the black and white wartime photos of her beach cordoned off with barbed wire, when she was exclusively utilized as R&R for the WWII US Navy. Or maybe you saw it in some old movie. As if on cue, (the very last time that I was there) the hushed burble of many languages was embellished by the unmistakable voice of Bruddah Iz singing. . . “What a wonderful world…” as I approached the arch framing the white sand, palms, and amazing skies of Waikiki Beach just outside. Two extremely young Marines in formal uniforms walked by and a lump formed in my throat as something flew into my eyes. “Thanks for serving, guys.” I said. “We love you. Akua protect you,” I thought. Suddenly the peaceful day was somehow revealed to be even more precious, more beautiful. The lady’s lounge had been commandeered by Hula Halau from Japan, and from Hawaii, who were here for an international competition. Lunch in the Surf Room was delicious; they serve a great club sandwich with a nice side portion of “sense of occasion.” Gazing out over the beach, the people parade, and proud Diamond Head watching over us all who rest, and play in her foamy skirts, I believed myself a guest in a magical summer palace. Annabelle Lee – Annabelle Lee in her kingdom by the sea. It really does take an imagination reared on east coast bleak to fully appreciate the treasures of the tropics (or in our case, the SUB-tropics). Right Mr. Poe? Actually, the best part of my lunch was Dottie. In her quiet unassuming way, Dottie makes you feel like a royal family guest indeed. “Aren’t you a bit young to have your working papers?” I asked her. “I’m seventy PLUS” she said, “and they’ll NEVER make me retire!” I over-tipped her even more than I usually try to, and I HOPE that everyone else does too. It’s just that much less of Waikiki when you are served by a kid from California, just that more generic. I hope Dottie's still there. . . And speaking of what AINT generic, have you been to Mana Hawaii shop on the second level of Beach Walk on Lewers? Several local businesses that purvey authentic Hawaiian things have gotten together to create this unique place where you can browse Hawaii books, quality ukulele, hula implements, music, art, weapons, or get a restorative lomi lomi massage. Just walking into the place is fun and educational! The folks there are authentically nice and really knowledgeable. Let them help you choose a worthwhile memento of your visit that you will enjoy for years – not toss into a storage unit! I’d LOVE to do a reading or a book signing there for my novel “Aloha Where You Like Go? From Survival to Satisfaction by Honolulu Taxi” (Shameless Plug ;-> ) . . . Then, back home to "reality," my cozy boat. . . .

Movies, and the imagination of non-boaters, portray those of us living on our boats wearing crisp "whites" and being served a perfect beverage on a deck chair. I have to chuckle, as we’re more often covered in muck and grease, trying to borrow some tool from a sympathetic neighbor. Ah, the sea! Oh! And blessings on whoever that was back in 250 B.C.E. who invented the water pump! (you don't wanna know)

These are just the things I muse upon. . . when I’m walking in Waikiki.

A L O H A! Cloudia