My little sister Quin used to have an endearing habit of ceaselessly recounting her own derring-do. This may not sound endearing — in fact, when I type it, it sounds immodest — but then, as now, Quin had a great flair for the comically hyperbolic. It was her wont to persistently remind the family of her greatest feats. Her stories tumbled forth in the form of casual, “Oh, did I ever tell you about the time …?” tales. The fables were laughably dubious, yet told with the gravitas of an oncologist informing a patient that he had mere seconds to live.
The punchline was that every story — of the time she successfully executed a Bond like tuck-and-roll from our nanny’s Honda just prior to a fender-bender or encountered an extraterrestrial during recess — ended with the claim that the event happened when Quin was 5. Perhaps there were so many evolving details in her stories that it was necessary to keep the chronology constant for simplicity’s sake. Whatever the reason, every time Quin began to launch into a tale of any kind, my family would cut her off at the pass to theatrically scream, in unison, “AT 5, THE AGE OF DESTINY!!”
I was reminded of this recently on my boyfriend’s and my trip to Hawaii. While at a Kona coffee co-op, a kind woman bearing a tray of chocolate-covered peaberry samples politely asked whether Deepak or I had ever been to the island before.
Deepak, who’s logged his share of time on Oahu but who was enjoying his maiden trip to the Big Island, responded as such, then said that I’d been to Kona “once or twice.”
As we walked away, purloined gooseberries burning into our cheeks, I praised him for the artful fib. Approaching the situation from a sample optimization perspective, I assumed Deepak meant to downplay the number of metaphorical Orchid Isle agricultural inspection stickers on the hard-shell luggage of our lives. Nothing screams “offer me aloha spirit and bottomless guilt-free macadamia nuts!” quite like being a Big Island neophyte.
“So you’ve been here more than once?” Deepak asked, slapping my hand away from a third star fruit slice.
And how! Growing up, my sisters and I visited the Big Island frequently, randomly, wantonly. Yee, Quin and I took a number of formative trips to Hawaii during our (potato mac) salad days. I don’t know, 10-15? Sometimes for a duration of weeks or months at a time.