Recognized Social Butterfly


A Profile in Contrast

The other day on the almost deserted beachfront next to the Kahala Hotel near Waikiki, I saw a couple spread out a blanket and nestle into a spot under some palm trees. The moment that the woman lay down, the man got up, emphatically spoke to someone on his cell phone, and started walking straight-shouldered in wide and wider circles as the mostly one-way conversation became more heated. The man wasn’t close enough to my fairly remote spot for me to hear why he was so irate, although at one point, he seemed to be closing in on me. (As a precaution, I securely fastened my mask.) But there was no doubt that he was grievously upset.

Finally, he ended the call, strode back to the blanket where the woman was either resting or sleeping, stripped off his shorts, gazed at his underwear, hesitated for a few more moments, put on a bathing suit, and ventured toward the ocean. But he was now bereft of the unbridled furor that he had displayed while on his cell phone. Instead, slouching all the way, he tentatively meandered back and forth across the shoreline as if he couldn’t decide whether it was worth swimming or not. Eventually, he took a dip, stumbled at bit, and haphazardly returned to his place in the shade where he stayed put for the rest of the afternoon.

Perhaps his halfhearted and dispirited ambling along the beachfront occurred because he was so exhausted from frenetically pacing during his tirade on the cell phone. In any case, the man was a curiosity.

During the pandemic, I don’t ride the bus or work out at the gym, depriving me of opportunities I once had to observe and to comment on the intriguing eccentricities of people I habitually have encountered there. But I am thankful that at Kahala, I have another outlet to scan the vicissitudes of human nature, underwear and all.




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