I consider myself very fortunate. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many places over my lifetime. When I was a kid, I’d heard about Hawaii and yearned to go there someday. I grew up in a location where if you had to place a bet on the weather, if you bet on ‘rain’, you’d usually come out victorious. It rained so much, I’m surprised I didn’t end up with webbed feet. Personally, I’m more a fan of the sun and the warmth it brings. When temperatures range between 70 and 85 degrees, that’s what I consider ‘ideal’. My oldest son enlisted in the military when he was 19 and when he did, I asked what he would like to do and where he’d like to go before he left for bootcamp. He wanted to surf where there were decent waves and it was warm. There weren’t too many places that fit into that category in January in the continental United States; however, there was one place that came to mind that required a rather long flight but fit all of the criteria…Hawaii.
This was supposed to be a family vacation, a special time for my husband and I and our three children to enjoy before our oldest son left for bootcamp, but because of my big mouth it didn’t end up that way. During the planning stages, I received a call from my brother Turtle. I mentioned Hawaii at some point during the conversation and how I was planning a trip and then he chimed in about how much he l-o-v-e-d Hawaii and was planning on going in the near future. I casually said that if he happened to be there at the same time as us, maybe we could get together a couple of times over a meal. Big mistake! I refer to my brother Turtle as Mr. Coulda Woulda Shoulda, he never does anything without mulling it over for days or weeks or months on end. Even after he makes a decision, he usually backs out of it at the last minute. Most of my family doesn’t take him seriously because he rarely follows through with his plans.
Why did it have to be during my first-ever trip to Hawaii with my husband and kids that he actually made a decision and saw it through?! Why??!! As I said, when I mentioned Hawaii to my brother (Oahu, specifically) during the planning stages, I told him we’d probably stay for 8 days. He indicated that if he were to go, he would stay for 10; however, out of the 10 days, 7 would be spent on a cruise and only 3 would be spent on the island. He hadn’t yet decided when to schedule the cruise so I was uncertain as to whether he’d be around at the front end, middle, or back end of our trip. Either way, I wasn’t too worried about it. I was making plans for a truly fantastic getaway and excited about getting a break from the cold and spending quality time with my (nuclear) family. When the day finally arrived and we boarded the airplane, I had such high hopes!
Everything had fallen into place so smoothly. I used my air miles and promo code to get the best possible deal on our flights and procured a huge corner suite (newly remodeled) for an unheard-of-price at a hotel overlooking the ocean in Waikiki. I also rented a minivan so we didn’t have to be dependent on taxis or buses. When our plane landed in Honolulu, I was so looking forward to getting some R&R. After it arrived at the gate, we were informed that we could turn on our cellphones. I was immediately notified that I had 3 voicemail messages when I turned mine on. Huh? As we proceeded from the plane to the baggage area, I listened to the messages. They were all from my brother Turtle. The first one started out, “Hey! I just arrived. It’s a beautiful day! The sky is clear and it’s sunny and warm.” The second voicemail was essentially the first message with a few more embellishments.
The third message sounded less ‘sunny’ and more ‘disgruntled’, “Hey, I arrived several hours ago. Where are you? Call me when you land. Weren’t you supposed to arrive today?” The first thing I thought was, “What have I done??!!” We had only just arrived and I was already besieged with phone calls. While we waited on our luggage in the baggage claim area, I called my brother back and let him know that we still had to get our rental car, drive to the hotel, and get settled in, and that I would get back to him later that day. I cannot recall whether we met up with him in the afternoon or the evening, but when we did, once he shared what his plans were, I was overcome with dread. His initial plan to spend 7 days on a cruise had been scrapped and now he was going to be available to ‘hang out’ for the duration of our stay. Let me tell you, I wasn’t exactly happy when he shared that ‘bit of news’.
I love my brother and in small (very small) doses, he’s fine. Why only small doses? Have you ever met someone that talks non-stop for hours on end? That’s my brother Turtle. If it were a conversation and both parties were engaged, it’d be one thing; however, with my brother, that’s not the case AT ALL. He will talk and talk and talk about nothing of merit, just for the sake of talking. It is EXTREMELY draining. For the most part, it’s about ‘the weather’. The first two days of our trip, we made a point to meet up with him for a couple of different activities and it wasn’t so bad because at the end of the day, he’d go to his hotel and we’d go to ours. Guess what happened on day three? Mid-afternoon, as I was relaxing in our corner suite, there was a knock at the door. I got up to answer it and when I did, there stood my brother. “What are you up to?” I asked him. It was at that time he informed me that he had switched hotels.
You’re not going to believe it, I certainly didn’t! He had managed to book a room (in our hotel) on the same floor as ours, only about 4 doors down the hallway. I was in disbelief. From that point on, I couldn’t escape him. It was no longer a vacation with just the five of us, we now had a ‘plus one’. If we didn’t bump into him in the hallway, it was in the elevator, or down in the dining area at breakfast. Inevitably, the discussion would turn to what our plans were and somehow, some way, he would end up joining us. As much as I tried, I couldn’t shake the guy, and I was too much of a wimp to tell him ‘no’. He joined us for dinner and drinks and snorkeling and nearly every activity we had on our itinerary. The primary memory I have of Hanauma Bay, a beautiful place with some of the most colorful, exotic, tropical fish you could ever feast your eyes on, was of my brother. After I climbed out of the water and sat down on my beach towel to rest and warm up, he proceeded to stand over me and talk incessantly.
The sun was directly behind him, so I had to continually shield my eyes. He just went on and on and on, despite the nonverbal gestures I was making. I finally asked if he could sit down because the glare was bothering me, at which point he did. He didn’t sit there silently, however, he continued to talk. I didn’t want to tell him to shut his yapper, so instead I pulled a passive-aggressive move; I draped a spare towel over my face and head. I thought once I did that he would stop talking, but it didn’t make an iota of difference. I just wanted to close my eyes and sit in silence but he still had more to say. Out of desperation, I finally told him (under the towel) that I was going to take a nap. That seemed to do the trick. If it were only that one time! Alas, it didn’t matter where we went or what we did, his mouth never stopped moving. My God, that man is full of hot air! Whether we were walking, eating, riding a bus, or sunning ourselves on the beach, his mouth was going a mile a minute.
The final night of our stay, I was so angry and frustrated that I nearly had a meltdown. My brother had joined me and two of my kids for a meal in Chinatown (downtown Waikiki). We took the bus there and after the meal we walked nearly all of the way back. During the bus ride, I was beyond annoyed. I hadn’t wanted him to join us, but I didn’t have the nerve to tell him ‘no’ so he came along. When I boarded the bus, I sat on a seat on the left side and he stood on the right side (directly across from me). Was his mouth moving? Of course, it was! I was so fed up by that point that I actually started counting (in my head) to see how long he could go without talking. No lie, seven seconds! I thought if I didn’t make eye contact it would make a difference, but it made no difference whatsoever! He just kept right on yapping! He yapped all the way to the restaurant, all the way through the meal, and all the way back to the hotel. When the kids and I walked to our room, he followed.
I tried (through gritted teeth) to tell him I was tired and needed to get some sleep and he just kept standing in the doorway and talking. It had to be an hour before he finally retreated and returned to his room, and by that time my blood pressure was through the roof. I started crying and shaking and was so incredibly angry and disappointed. Was I angry with my brother? A little. Was I angry with myself? Oh, yes! I felt so stupid for having said anything to him in the first place about going to Hawaii, and then I felt like a wimp for not having the courage to create some boundaries once we arrived (and he latched on for dear life). As awful as it was, I did learn a valuable lesson from that experience. We returned to Hawaii twice after the initial trip (once to Maui and once to Oahu). Do you think I told my brother Turtle beforehand? Oh, hell no! In fact, I only told one person, my mom. And I made her swear to secrecy. There was no way I was going to have another ‘plus one’ experience featuring my brother Turtle. Once was enough!!