IMR: 1998: June: 15 -- Monday, 4:55 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i
With a little prodding from Jen, I swallowed my pride, put last month's hissy fit out of my mind, and accepted an invitation from Eathan -- just arrived from Washington -- to join dad, Gayle and some friends for a Sunday barbeque.

We got there early, and I was enlisted to help get dinner going. I got to play Backyard American Guy, setting up the grill and, eventually, getting it lighted. (One-match charcoal my ass.) Jen and Gayle, meanwhile, did some catching up, it having been nearly two months since we last visited.

Eathan, itching for some quality time with his long-distance love, was only there long enough to take a shower before heading off to the 50th State Fair. I doubt anyone's going to see much of him during his time home.

Dad soon arrived, and with him a visiting friend from Singapore, his wife and their two kids. They had been delayed by a parade in Waikiki, which left Kalakala Avenue closed and traffic snarled for miles. I again expressed my relief at no longer being a resident of the tourist mecca.

Dad's friend looked familiar, and Jen (and her amazing memory) figured out why. We had dined together during his last visit to the islands, nearly three years ago.

Since then, he'd had a son, and his daughter was now seven years old. This time, the whole family came. The kids, Nicole and Nikoli, tore up the yard, entertaining Toffee (dad's golden retriever) to no end.

Dad took over grill duty, and cooked the marinated steaks and chicken breasts that Gayle had prepared. Inside, Gayle was unveiling her other culinary masterpieces, including a bowl of Maui lychee, steamed veggies and a most amazing salmon-topped tofu salad.

"We really ought to visit more often," Jen chided.

Everyone smiled at Katie, and Jen and I watched Nicole and Nikoli frolic. We marveled at the girl's English ability, especially since she also spoke Mandarin and a bit of Malay. She pronounced every syllable perfectly.

"Toffee cannot eat broccoli," she said once. "A dog eating a vegetable, now imagine that!"

She had the most charming accent, and the cutest turns of phrase.

"One question please," she would constantly say. She quizzed dad endlessly. "One question please, what if Toffee falls in the ocean?"

"Same here," was another of her favorites, which she threw out after any declarative sentence she heard, even if she wasn't listening. Her dad would say that he thought a certain brand of detergent was best, and she'd nod vigorously and chirp, "Same here!"

I imagined the day Katie would be so talkative, so articulate. Who cares if she gets picked on a little at school... there's nothing more adorable and amazing than a child with a sharp grasp of language. Unlike Jen, I don't care if she speaks pidgin, as long as she can also speak good English. (She'll also know Hawaiian and some French, if we have anything to do with it.)

We all relaxed and chatted the night away.

Gayle and I discussed plans to perhaps delay our celebration of Father's Day, as that very same day (this Sunday) dad would be busy helping island veterans welcome the U.S.S. Missouri (aka "The Mighty Mo") to Hawai`i. Fittingly, the battleship will apparently pass in front of dad's house later this week.

It was a quiet, stomach-stuffing, somewhat warm night at dad's. When they put "Barney" on the VCR, we decided it was time to go home. We departed with a grocery bag of leftovers.

On mom's side, Father's Day came a week early for me.

She'd been asking what I wanted, and I never knew what to say. Honestly, she does so much for me already, asking for anything made me uncomfortable. Apart from "another month of your generosity," I really couldn't think of anything I needed.

Until late last week, when I got up to fetch Katie for her 6 a.m. feeding and found her kicking in her bassinet, her little head bumping against the padded wicker wall.

She needed a crib.

Fortunately, we had a full-size crib, loaned to us by cousin Jennifer, which has occupied the majority of mom's living room since Katie was born. Unfortunately, it was partially held together with rope and tape, and wasn't going to be easy to disassemble.

So mom proposed (although not as my gift) to rent a big truck and transport the crib, fully-assembled, over the weekend. But I was doubtful that it would fit in the elevator, and was dismayed to find weekend rental prices nearing $100.

(Forget $19.95 a day... after they tack on a billion little fees, you're paying with a C-note and some change.)

The solution? Spend the money on something else. We raced off to Toys'R'Us at Pearlridge and snapped up a Graco "Pack-and-Play" combination crib and play pen. We almost bought one a few months ago, anyway.

The "Pack-and-Play" is great, and Katie already feels at home in it. Turns out it matches our stroller perfectly. Additionally, it's collapsible into a brick the size of a boombox stereo, so we got to show it off during our visit to dad's. It's no king-size bed, but it's much better than the duffle-bag-sized basket she'd been using up 'til now.

It even comes with a nifty suspended bassinet thing, too, which we set up immediately. Katie won't be able to sleep in it much longer, but for now at least our backs are thankful.

As an added bonus, mom can now keep the big crib at her place, ensuring Katie has a place to sleep when Jen and I are off on our movie dates.

Speaking of which, we saw "Six Days, Seven Nights" on Saturday. Cute movie. I'd say more about it, but I'm saving my comments for yet another little project (did you notice it on the new and improved front page?).

I'm deathly afraid of bees.

This bit of trivia comes up only because I just heard a Peter Schickele (a.k.a. P.D.Q. Bach) radio show in which "bees" were the theme.

He used so many bee puns I thought my spleen was going to rupture. And when "Flight of the Bumblebee" came on, I was wisked off to my teen years and the fateful afternoon I developed this paralyzing phobia.

One beautiful summer day, Nate and I had made our regular mountain bike run from Mililani to town and were looking for something interesting to do. I balked at the idea of attempting Tantalus (it was nearly noon), so instead we headed up into the mountains above Manoa to the Wa`ahila Ridge Trail.

It was shady and breezy, and we tooled around the little park for a while. It turned out the trail itself was too crowded to ride, so -- like idiots -- we decided to take off into the woods.

Picking a direction at random, we hopped roots and zipped between trees. Eventually, we were zooming downhill, playing chicken with boulders and cliffs and having a grand old time.

Of course, eventually the incline got too steep and the brush got too thick, so we ended up pushing our bikes on foot.

It was interesting for a while, but in the end we were pooped and just wanted to get back to civilization. Not surprisingly, we decided the best strategy was to just keep descending until we hit a street, house, or beach.

It started to rain.

While we trudged along, I heard a faint hum. I looked up, and was immediately mesmerized by the sight of a steady stream of bees flowing into a cliffside hive.

It was amazing to me, how the bees -- coming from all different directions -- seemed to snap onto a path fixed in space, eventually flying in single-file like cars on a Jetson-esque highway.

"Neat," I said. "Let's get out of here."

We gingerly ducked under the bee line like it was a deadly, buzzing limbo pole, and continued down the mountain.

Then, as I was pushing through an unusually thick bit of brush, my foot fell through a hole in the ground.

I looked down and saw a swarm of black spots.

"Eeew, I think something died here," I said. "Look at all the..."

It hit me like a falling space station.


My voice cracked in an appropriately pathetic way as I yanked my foot out of the underground hive and took off through the woods.

After the buzzing seemed to stop, I stopped.

Now, even though I was raised on the same cartoons as any other kid, I was skeptical enough to doubt most of the things they portrayed. I knew coyotes wouldn't really survive a two-mile fall from a cliff, or that hats would spin in the air if the wearer took off really fast.

I also, tragically, didn't think bees really chased people down like... well, animals.

I learned the truth the hard way that day.

In no time, the bees were all over me again. I screamed again, and started running again.

As I ran, I was acutely aware of the fact that these stupid little insects were carefully tracking me as I zig-zagged through the woods. I started to wonder exactly how far they'd keep up the chase.

I'd never find out. I zigged between the wrong pair of trees, and plummeted a good fifteen feet off a "little" cliff.

I landed face down in a bed of leaves, and just waited for the inevitable attack. I was stung several times on the neck, arms, and even partway down my left sock.

I don't know what happened between the fall and when Nate found me, but I know I felt dizzy and nauseated when I stood up. For a minute he panicked, wondering if I was allergic to bee stings. I didn't know, and by the way I was feeling, figured it was a distinct possibility.

I sat down and rested my head on my knees. An eternity passed. I wasn't dead, thankfully, but I'd definitely had better days.

In the end, we found ourselves scrambling down a curtain of roots above Manoa Stream behind what looked like faculty housing. We called my mom and had her drive into town with the bike rack on the trunk.

And that's why I hate bees. Now, I don't care how small they are, if I see one, I'm off like a high-strung deer.


© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 15 June 1998 · Last Modified: 17 June 1998