IMR: 1998: September: 06 -- Sunday, 11:45 a.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i
So anyway, Jen had given her two weeks notice for her job at Tower, but last week decided they didn't deserve that much warning, so she told her boss she wasn't coming back and subsequently told her supervisor -- who tried to guilt trip her into staying on to train a replacement -- where she could shove said job, and how.

I was terribly impressed and a little stunned, and it was rather difficult to explain to my respective employers how the mid-September schedule change I'd just warned them about would, in fact, take effect immediately instead.

In fact, I was so confused about where I was supposed to be Friday afternoon, I put on my UH Press T-shirt (to show my team spirit) before heading off to class but ended up working downtown. My well-dressed coworkers blinked at me in confusion.

"I didn't think you were coming in today," said one.

"Me neither," I replied, plopping down at a moderately snazzy NT workstation and spending the entire afternoon setting up some new, kickass web conferencing software.

It's a good thing I showed up, too. David, the reluctant resident computer guru, also happens to be a very skilled chef, or at least a very skilled ice cream cake chef, and -- as is apparently the tradition preceding long weekends -- he served up a scrumptious brownie, coffee, chocolate, and marshmallow dessert concoction that nearly knocked me off my feet.

The sugar boost was just enough to kick me into high gear, and I finished testing the assorted databases and JavaScript chat features and by the time 5 p.m. rolled around the much-anticipated "membership intranet" was up and running.

Have I mentioned how much I like my new job?

Of course, the true challenge won't come until our two hundred or so members in two dozen or so countries actually start using the system, and subsequently get confused, push random buttons in frustration, and very likely tie the whole system in a knot.

As a good friend in technical support once said, "Running computer networks wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the users."

Well... we'll see. Presently the plan is to open it up to a few net-savvy committees first, putting the system through its paces before unveiling it to everyone at the upcoming meeting in Los Angeles. Any practice will help.

[ Okinawa Festival ]Yesterday, I called dad to see what he was up to, figuring we might drop by or visit grandma Ozawa or otherwise do something family-like for the Labor Day weekend. Unfortunately, as is usually the case during an election year, his calendar was pretty much booked.

He said he'd spend part of the day at Kapi`olani Park, though, campaigning at the annual Okinawa Festival. Whether or not we'd be able to hook up with him there, Jen said the festival sounded like fun, so we spun 'round to pick up William and headed into Waikiki.

Parking was atrocious, but we got a street spot on Kapahulu near the zoo, and walked over to catch the parade of banners. Then came the parade of politicians, and William cringed as each one in their own special way mangled the pronunciation of assorted Okinawan greetings.

Only a few were wise enough to stick with "Haisai!"

While we were trying to decide what to eat, we bumped into one last politician who was not invited onstage. Richard Thompson, an odd gentleman who's been trying to unseat Dan Inouye for the last few million years -- a task as close to futile as one can get in island politics. He remembered me from my days at Ka Leo, and chuckled at Katie.

"Congratulations on what I presume is your marriage," he said to Jen, quickly continuing, "But of course what do I know, what with 50 percent of babies this year being born out of wedlock."

"Um, thanks," Jen said.

Then he started on a tirade about how nuclear weapons are the root of all evils on Earth, at which point Jen and I smiled, waved, and quickly trotted off.

Our lunch consisted mostly of "andadogs," which were hot dogs dipped in andagi batter, a delicacy otherwise known as "waffle dogs." They were tasty, though. We topped it off with a basic bowl of chili and rice.

It was unusually hot out, so we decided to call it quits pretty quickly. And although we'd stumbled through a swarm of folks in "Ben" T-shirts, we never caught up with dad.

After dropping William off on campus, I dropped Jen and Katie off at home, then headed out for the second adventure of the day: to get my car looked at.

For the last week, the transmission had been slipping something fierce, worse and worse each day. It had gotten to the point where I was afraid of stopping on a hill, thinking I'd not be able to start going forward again. I was convinced the whole system was shot, as was dad, and the thought of losing a car that I'd owned for less than five months was eating away at me.

After driving up and down Queen Street to find an auto shop open on Saturday afternoons (a rare breed indeed), I spotted a small one with its door open a couple of blocks from Ward Avenue.

A mechanic came out, and I asked him if he could give me an estimate. He jacked the car up to nearly 45 degrees, looked at it for a minute, then -- inexplcably -- walked out onto the street, jumped into a taxi cab, and disappeared. I was left blinking in the sun.

I tried to catch the two other mechanics whenever they came up from under other cars, but they ignored me.

I must have muttered "What the hell?" at least a hundred times. With my car stuck in the air like that, I couldn't do much else.

Then, ten minutes later, the cab returned, the mechanic got out, and he walked up to me and started talking like nothing had happened.

"Looks like you just have a broken seal -- you've got no transmission fluid at all," he said. "It'll be about $50 and a couple of hours."

I was so happy to not hear a four-digit estimate, I forgot to ask him exactly why he disappeared for ten minutes without a word. To pass the time, I walked over to Ward Warehouse, then Ward Centre, then Computer City, then back to Ward Centre, where I settled down at a table in Border's and finished my Hawaiian homework.

When I returned, I found a little old woman busily scrubbing out a huge steel transmission casing in a sink. She told me it'd be another ten minutes. I wandered the streets of Kaka`ako a while to complete my sunburn.

Finally they were finished. The mechanic asked, "How much did I say it was going to be?" After I told him, he nodded and wrote out a bill for $52 -- $2 being the cost of the new seal.

I drove home, absolutely ecstatic to be able to press on the accelerator and have the car start moving immediately.

As soon as I got in, I crashed. It was dark before I knew it.

We had just finished up a simple but delicious spaghetti dinner when the day's third adventure was born: Jen suddenly remembered that she'd heard on the news that Labor Day would be the last night for the Kam Drive-In theaters.

I couldn't even remember the last time I'd been to a drive-in movie -- though I suspect it may have been before I'd even started high school -- but I knew I'd probably regret not going one last time. Kam was the last drive-in theater in the state, and I doubt there will ever be another given the premium placed on land here.

So with exactly thirty seconds of planning and packing, we grabbed Katie and headed out the door.

Both screens were showing a triple feature (the third picture of each to start at midnight), and of the sets available Jen and I picked the one playing at Kam 2: "Blade," "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" and "Snake Eyes."

We had to drive around a bit to find a stall that still had its antenna wires intact, and when we did, neither I nor the guy in the van next to us could figure out which AM frequency the theater used, and for a while we didn't think it was working at all. Eventually, though, Jen got up and simply asked someone nearby what station it was, and soon enough we were listening to assorted cuts from movie soundtracks.

The sun went down and everyone around us started setting up their lawn chairs and snack tables. The laser pointer brigade got busy on the dark screen, as apparently Kam doesn't do the NCN trivia-and-advertising thing. When the hula dancers appeared, Jen and I settled in and tried to soak up as much character as we could.

Katie, who was sitting on Jen's lap, didn't tolerate sitting still for long. Within a half hour, she was squirming and squealing and clearly demonstrating exactly why we wouldn't be taking her to a regular theater until she's eight years old or so.

I ended up hopping out and walking her to the snack station and back. That put her to sleep, thankfully, so I dropped her in her car seat and returned to the movie.

"Blade," we quickly concluded, was a little silly (Jen kept having flashbacks to "Spawn"). And since a lot of it took place in near-complete darkness, it was probably a poor choice for an outdoor screen. As graphic as the kicks and explosions and decapitations were, they were too cartoony to get excited about, and the THX-to-AM sound conversion didn't help any, either.

Even so, the total experience of a drive-in movie was sufficiently cool, and though I'd only been to Kam a handful of times in my entire life (the first time when I was two to see "The Cat from Outer Space"), I knew I'd miss it when it was gone.

Even more upsetting to Jen and I, of course, is that Katie won't even remember it. In fact, unless Jen subjects her to repeated viewings of "Grease," she could very likely turn to us on her fifteenth birthday and ask, "What's a drive-in theater?"

The appeal is clear. Forget the lack of air conditioning, the occasional need to run the windshield wipers, and the idiots with the laser pointers (who plague regular theaters anyway). It's going out, but with all the benefits of watching a movie at home. You can still enjoy first-run flicks, but also talk loudly, stretch out, make out, pick your nose, breastfeed...

You can take your seven-month-old daughter, fussing and all, without feeling the least bit guilty or embarassed.

No more drive-ins. What a pity.

What's worse, a year from now, unless the Kam Super Swap Meet becomes profitable, the vast asphalt lot that was the Kam Theaters will no doubt be home to yet another mini mall -- the seventh or eighth shopping complex within a five mile area.

Just recently, when we were lamenting the loss of Honolulu Book Shops, Jen said, "Everything that was special about this island is gone now." At the time I chided her for such an exaggeration. But I'm not so sure anymore.


© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 7 September 1998 · Last Modified: 10 September 1998