A Lei for a Good Marriage


Diamond Head Lighthouse on Oahu 

Testing a marriage has never been so easy as missing a flight. A number of years ago my sister Shannon, and I met in Honolulu for a small holiday. I live in Canada and she lives in Australia. It seemed a logical place for us to meet without having jetlag tag along too.

My sister’s husband, Kane is Australian. Back then, he was an officer in the Australian Army. By some odd coincidence Kane was also in Honolulu on Army business with his unit. Kind of like an exchange of military minds. I’ll show you my machine gun if you show me yours. How far can your soldiers run, mine can run farther and faster with their pants around their ankles than yours can. It is a full-fledged testosterone festival really— whose is bigger, faster, and more powerful.

I like Kane, he’s fairly easy to be around— Which is good— I mean he would have to be, since he’s in charge of the big guns and gets to blow things up. But seriously—Talk about stress relief, boom! Blast another hole in the ground.

Kane picks me up at the Honolulu airport. Shannon’s flight doesn’t arrive until the evening. So we take a tour around Waikiki beach, which includes a walk through the local park. I can’t help but notice the women are more unclad than clad, and it would take less effort to get undressed or dressed than in the frozen wonderland of Canada.

The hours whizz by and then it is time to pick up Shannon from the airport. Did I mention that people are excellent drivers in Honolulu? They are excellent to drive you to the edge of a nervous breakdown. In the end I just stopped looking at the traffic and looked at Kane’s white knuckled hands on the steering wheel. No worries— Hang loose. No wonder there is a soft drug culture on the island, they need something to get through the daily death defying commute. I assume that since they are Islanders, they are better with boats, but I never confirmed that theory.

At the airport we sit outside the terminal for international arrivals, the terminals themselves are in the building, but they have a spacious open area outside with concrete planters, benches, and wide sidewalks. The evening is warm and balmy, most people sit outside while they wait. Kane and I are chatting. Actually, I’m listening because that’s my area of expertise, and Kane is chatting because that’s his specialty.

A loud round of laughter erupts from across the way. It’s a couple of female security guards, one is sitting on the bench, and the other is standing facing her. They begin a little jostling type horseplay. It becomes louder, and more aggressive. Then in one angry motion the security guard that was standing grabs the other one by her pony tail. She pulls her backwards slamming her head into the concrete planter. I quickly get the feeling they are not practicing members of the Hawaiian ‘Hang Loose society’. As my jaw hangs down loosely in shock, all I can think is: I will not now, nor ever, create problems for the Honolulu airport security.

Finally Shannon’s flight is called and the people who cleared customs begin emerging from the building. We watch other people being greeted by family, friends, and tour groups. Still no Shannon.

Kane and I exchange glances. She should come out soon.

The arrivals dwindle and it is only ourselves, and one tour company waiting.

Where was Shannon?

A disheveled older couple enters the waiting area, they glance around in confusion and then the tour company representatives greet them with open smiles. They leave.

Now it’s just us.

A security officer pushes his way through the doors.

Kane steps up to the man, “Excuse me, are there anymore passengers left to come through from that last flight?”

“Just one woman.” he said giving us a reassuring nod. “She should be through shortly.”

Kane and I exchange glances again.

We turn our focus to the door willing Shannon to walk through.

The door swings open and an thickly built woman walks past us towards the taxi cabs.

Kane gives me a clenched jaw look. I’m sure his head would have popped off if he didn’t have such a thick neck. He marches to the phone muttering “She missed the bloody plane, I just know it she missed the bloody plane.”

Oh I felt like laughing until it hurt— but then I would be the one getting their head smacked against the concrete planter. What can I say? My unfortunate response to stress is to laugh.

Kane’s response to this particular stress is to get wound up so tight his face turns crimson and his ears get sucked into the sides of his head.

The phones were no help. Shannon was not at home, and all the phone numbers he had that might help him locate her were on the army base. So off I went with my half-crazed brother in-law to the army base.

Did I mention we had to drive there? Did I mention how the Hawaiians drove? I think I did. Well at this point Kane drove worse.

I tried to reason with him, “You’re right Kane, she probably did miss her plane. She probably got her flight time wrong.” I proclaim while trying to remember a Merry Poppins tune to sing to calm him down. Anything… I would have said anything to have the calm, rational, within a decent speed limit Kane back. But no. Now he is hunched over his steering wheel like a demon in a flaming red minivan. He looks like Taz off of the cartoon Loony Tunes. “Me got to get me wife!!!” At that point I knew I had better just sit back and take my revenge by writing this all down.

Once we arrive at the army base Kane is out of the van in a dash. He is bearing down on his subordinates (Did I mention Kane is a Major in the Australian army), they stand at attention while Kane barks out orders to locate one of the Captains. Shannon was friends with the captains wife, she was supposed to drive Shannon to the airport.

I took a seat at the front of the barracks right where Kane indicated I should sit. Exactly where he indicated I should sit. I did so immediately and without hesitation.

“Stay there.” He orders me.

He stalks to the phone on the desk and dials a number. Some poor soldier on the other end of the phone gets his ears blasted off when Kane didn’t get the information he requested.

Kane slams the phone down and stalks down a hall.

While Kane is gone I observe a drunken soldier making his way toward the front entrance. His eyes turn to me like a mouse to a piece of cheese.

I turn my chair and face the other way hoping to avoid any type of contact.

The fellow zigzags his way behind me. I can see his shadow on the floor. His breath is coming over my shoulder in fumes. I sit very still hoping he will leave. Nope. No such luck.

He makes his way in front of me and pulls up a chair across from me. He is struggling with obvious issues of balance and focus. He stares at me with bleary eyes. I imagine I seem very out of place to him. A female civilian on the base who appears to be alone. He flops down into the chair, and leans forward about to open his mouth.

I could sense what was coming. I was cringing, knowing for certain whatever he would say would not go over well with Kane. After all Kane had designated himself my protector. With Kane due back any second I don’t think this man could fully appreciate the danger of speaking his chemically altered, at this moment, no IQ mind.

The first half of a word began to come out of his mouth— And that’s when Kane flew back into the room.

“Can I help you soldier!” snaps Kane.

Amazingly the drunken sod bolts out of his chair and stumbles up the stairs as if Kane had ignited his butt on fire.

Kane looks at me and demands, “Was he rude to you?”

“No Kane he wasn’t” I answer quite truthfully.

By then Kane had the cell number for Shannon’s friend. Within minutes we found Shannon. She was at that moment sitting in a restaurant having supper with her friends getting ready to leave for Hawaii. Have you ever traveled over the Date Line? It can be very confusing, after all it was Friday the next day there, and she would arrive Thursday the day before. Or was it the other way around? Anyway, Shan missed her flight and she did not even know it until Kane broke the news, talk about a shocker!

Shan arrived the next day, I was so glad to see her. The moment I saw her I endowed her with a brilliant blue orchid flower lei. The Hawaiian lady who sold it to me said it was good for marriages.

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