Cat’s Out of the Bag
MauiTime – November 18, 2010; Volume, 14, Issue 22
By Anu Yagi
“You got your small fire all right.” — William Golding, Lord of the Flies
Some years ago, the “in-laws” came in from Kansas on their first-ever trip to Hawaii, and my peeps at Trilogy hooked us up with an all-day “Discover Lanai” catamaran cruise. It’s one of those rare packaged adventures that doesn’t merely meet its claims, but exceeds them, and I’ll not soon forget that perfect day spent sunning over windswept waves and eating far too much teriyaki chicken. They allow you a fair amount of free time to explore onshore—to snorkel or take a van trip to the town or just plain mosey about—and after the former were exhausted, my boyfriend and I did the latter. You know, for a “cigarette.”
Not a stone’s throw from Hulopo‘e Beach, toward Sharks’ Cove, on a trail dotted with nitrogenous waste piles from coastal-dwelling wild turkeys, we paused to peer into the keawe, reenacting that seminal SNL skit—he Bill Murray, me Steve Martin. “What in the hell is that?” we said in as many intonations as we could muster. But we meant it. What in the hell is that?
There in the brush swarmed a head-sized demon, obsidian black and made of a million pieces. It writhed in one spot like the gurgle of a geyser about to bloom, and for a moment I hoped that the isle’s old nickname might manifest (before Dole pineapples, it’s said Lanai was known for its cannibal ghosts).
We stared for a long, long time—which was a long time, given that “cigarette”—until finally, Bill Murray picked up a rock and chucked it at the unknown beast.
An angry plume rose to the sky, swelling with static din. Revealed on the ground were the remnants of an empty Styrofoam cooler. And that was it. No sow’s head. No missing person. No cannibal demon. Not even a half-eaten Spam musubi.
The flies regrouped on the cooler, again smothering the polystyrene. We concluded they must be having a fly convention or a Diptera dance party, so we continued moseying on our way.
When we returned back to base to set sail home for Maui, “mother in-law” was abuzz, too. “Oh, you wouldn’t believe,” she said in her little pixie whisper. Her eyes sparkled with the excitement of silly gossip, tinged with the madness of a mama lion. “That lady over there is so upset. She told the captain you two snuck off into the bushes.”
Oh crap. Here it comes.
“Well, you know, nearly everyone here sometimes smokes a little—” Bill Murray and I said in chorus.
“Oh no, it’s not that,” mother in-law said dismissively. “She said you were throwing rocks at cats!”
“Yes! I couldn’t stop giggling when I overheard,” she said. “You two would never throw rocks at cats.”
“Mom, we threw a rock,” said Bill Murray, telling her about the swarm of flies. We never heard a peep of reprimand from the captain or crew, so we giggled (for a couple reasons) the whole boat ride home, while the periwinkle coiffured woman sat cross-armed and seasick, giving us stink-eye for being attempted cat murders.
I had half a mind to approach her and recommend some better poolside reading. I’ve never read any Danielle Steel, but mother in-law seemed to be enjoying her books and one of those smoochfests might inspire a happier vacation than William Golding.
Because one could argue that a bunch of schoolboys marooned on an island might throw rocks at cats, but a lolo-in-love couple from a neighboring isle (only left to our own devices for all of half an hour) will not. Though we giggled, I was hurt. I inspected the pattern of my one-piece bathing suit for any possible offenses. Did it give me a tan line that somehow read, “I hate cats and old ladies”? Was my beach bag woven of an inexcusable fiber? Did she overhear us, and happen to hate SNL? (I guess “what in the hell is that?” might sound like “go to hell cat!” if your hearing aid’s waterlogged.)
Whatever the reason, I’m glad she didn’t catch Bill Murray and I holding hands—or she may have tattled to the captain that we’d snuck off into the bushes to bang uglies. And that would have been harder to laugh about with mother in-law. ■