NOTES ON VACATION

How heart-breaking, to see a woman in a billowing skirt walking down the beach to the ocean with her love (in true-love Bermudas), while the paranoid big-hatted baby-carriage mom roll primly in front of the unchecked display, nose up at their own beginnings.  

Wife beater shirts ignoring their transient spouses on the honeymoon bar hop, crewcut straight-lipped seniors with their elephant seal triple-chinned fudge-sunday wives, aunties with real friends, a bored honey-blond honeymooner in a slinky negligee coverup (misnamed) who has jauntily moved her cropped-cut, dazed, not-there husband and neglected child to the neighboring party table of seven, another group of compensatorily nice teens, two wizened seventy-somethings enjoying each other, a table too sane to bother with (live in peace, normals), adorable out-of-place children duty-jogging, the last young lovers on the beach, Hollywood’s idea of a girl surf gang chatting as they paddle towards the break, a couple of tables of animated African-American mother-daughter duos in perfect alignment, loincloth beachboys lighting torches, sugar birds grabbing empty chairs and trying to order, sailboats bobbling, waitresses smiling, the constant flow of the officially nondescript, a local son shows up at the happy table, while the sun turns everyone on the beach HD crisp, lit from inside by liquid LEDs, a Meyerowitz photo from thirty years ago, pier ropes glowing against the steel sea which sunset has bled of its coral sand glow, everywhere fronds, bougainvillea flowers (sure sign of resortville), signature trees, torches, wahines framed between the vines, tee-shirt young mothers in cut-offs, beautiful women in wife beaters with nice men, flames all around in the lava planters: a modern luau.  Photos are taken (including this one), women in Baby Doll short-shorts photograph even more embarrassing tourists.  The paid music stops, letting the music of the sea in.  This is tourist TV.  This is what tourists watch at home: films of their own vacations.  

Setting sun glints off beach umbrellas and cabanas.  The sand glows thickly orange, kinds who look like Adam Sandler run by screaming.  This is where Adam Sandlers grow (that is, where they are seeded, not that they mature).  Only about ten couples now on the long beach, but the beach walkers grow, and the restaurant noise increases, the way the surf grows louder at night, when the competition quiets down.  

The sun is finally off the beach, the world is torches, fires in the lava beds, and the bounce of the sun off glowing beach umbrellas.  A beautiful one-year-old with a white lei glides by with perfect parents.  There are animals on Waikiki, but also angels.  Not just newlyweds, but close families.  You can see the sweep of their lives in seconds, interlarded with gross belly-first low-riders, grifters pretending to be tourists.

As I leave, I have an inkling that girls with big scents are looking for guys, and vice versa.  By the pool, first-love newlyweds chase birds and joke, next to flattened burned-out couples.  On a very un-Indiana Jones note, what really kills you are kids the age of your grandkids.  I miss our own.  I could be seeing them instead of writing this and its accompanying poem.  The ethically uncertain decisions we make for artistically uncertain ends.