Oh, there were the couples dinners that happened every now and then. Couples that Ma and Dad met at church. Actually, they were the parents of the children we had made friends with at church. And really, the only reason that they spent time with Ma and Dad was, Dad. He was the fun one. He was the one who could have real conversations. He was the one who was craving real conversation with humans who could converse back with him.
So when Ma announced one night that she planned a Hawaiian cruise with a friend from church, our jaws dropped. There wasn’t a word uttered. How could there be? This was a foreign language she just spoke. We were shocked. And relieved. She would be gone for a week.
So she went. And returned. And never uttered a word about the trip. What did you do? Oh, I don’t know. What did you see? Oh, I don’t remember. But there were pictures. Not of Hawaii. Not of her and her friend having a great time. Only one picture - of her and Don Ho. That was it. That was the extent of her trip. And not a word was uttered about the trip ever again. I asked about her friend and she avoided that subject. She never saw that woman again. And her friend avoided us at church, the whole family. Poof, the one friend Ma had was gone. In an instant.
|infamous picture with edits|
Could it be that her friend and she were two middle-aged women, vying for the attention of this charismatic entertainer; and he chose Ma and thus created the chasm in this short-lived friendship? Ma, always the narcissist, would have easily let a budding friendship go for the more self serving pleasure of the attention of a famous personality.
I try to imagine Don offering her a glass of wine and her giggling like a school girl, straddling a bar stool next to him, his hand on her knee. And her friend, leaving in a huff at midnight, disgusted with Ma’s behavior, or crushed with her own school-girl jealousies. Could it be that Ma actually owned this type of emotion that was let loose on her one-time-only girl’s vacation? Was this the earliest version of Moms Gone Wild?
It’s like some morbid human curiosity, like looking at the accident scene and going, eeew, gross, and staring and then looking away. I am forced to imagine Ma, around the same age as me now, batting her eyelashes after 3 glasses of rose, using coy and innocent body language. And Don is perusing the crowd for his next conquest, eyes falling onto the dark-eyed beautiful brunette at the bar. Maybe her girlfriend is making the same moves; two grown women, undulating on their bar stools, trying to out-undulate each other.
“Oh, Donnie…..you hoo…..pick me, pick me!!”
And then Don comes sashaying over, with his Hawaiian Elvis moves, crooning about pineapples and mangoes and bubbles, and offers his hand to each of these women, who then join him on the stage, drunk dancing and prancing about the stage, each flaunting their wares like unabashed street vendors.
Maybe after the set is over, Don disappears with Ma to some discreet dark corner of the ship and her friend is left behind to make her way back to their room, waiting up for hours, fuming, waiting for Ma to return in the wee hours of the morning, cheeks flushed and grinning from ear to ear.
Ma returns home with only a picture, her memories, and her one and only friend gone. And has no explanation of what went on during her excursion, only that she is different now and Dad notices, big time. It is a perfect coincidence, though, that Ma falls for another man named Don, the same as her husband. In the throes of passion, she can scream out “Don!” and no one would be the wiser. Except it would drive Dad nuts because he never knew if it was him or not. No wonder he drank.
Don Ho was mentioned often in our house after that. Tiny bubbles, in your wine, makes ya happy, makes ya feel fine.