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Big Mable Time Machine

There I was today wedged somewhere between 1998 and 1999---the Koolau behind me and an endless blue everywhere else. Like the wind, I was still and silenced by the moment's perfection. I was living a Corona ad while taking caramelized sips of Primo. That side of the island is painfully breathtaking, I almost cried on my drive over minutes before.

I floated on a foot of water on Big Mable. She was a lot of fun. Random conversations between the children flew across boat and floating devices... I listened for the most part. One talked and vented about his restaurant job. Another talked about his dorm woes and filthy roommates. In the same nonchalance, he answered questions about a recent lifesaving kidney transplant. He seemed unaffected, unfiltered only after everyone dispersed into their own little distractions.

"This is life," he mumbled. "I don't see why we can't do this every weekend." No one commented.

A girl proudly presented a bottle of "pink champagne." It was of the twist-off variety. I predicted no one had cups.  Someone offered me a sip. "We're doing this ghetto style," he said. It wasn't a joke, he didn't know my name. Take a swig, pass it down. I held the bottle.

"You can't call this Champagne," I said.

"Why not."

"Because it's from a valley near Sacramento, not Champagne"

"Oh. Where's Champagne?"


"I learn something new everyday!"

His honest enthusiasm checked me. I was on the verge of committing a crime I found many people guilty of 10 years or so ago---people I've sentenced indefinitely to Old People Correctional, including my parents, who have since been released... on parole. The crime? Prejudice against youth.

I held the bottle and took a sip. The boy took a swig and passed it to his older acquaintance, "Em".

"This isn't even Champagne," Em said.

"We were just talking about that!," The boy said as Em walked away.

A new conversation flowed, this time about the origin of Em.

"That's not even his real name."

"I don't even know his real name," another friend said.

I heard the story earlier. Em apparently used to be the mirror image of Eminem. That was back in '99. Twelve years later, Em looked more like an exhausted Kid Rock than the rapper, but apparently the name stuck.

I didn't know anyone, but I asked for a spam musubi and was promptly handed one. As I peeled the saran off, I shut out the voices and bodies that floated and walked about. I'd been here before. I've met these guys before. I've been one of them. They were Celias, Marks, Ians, Kevins, Jamies, Mels... good friends and acquaintances during one of the most crucial periods of my life---when exploration and discoveries prevailed. It's refreshing to hear them. I don't remember my friends and me being this smart and mellow back in college.

The bottle of "champagne" made its way back. I remember how Andre used to give me the biggest headaches. That and Boone's. Five dollars is a hefty price to pay after all. This time I politely declined raising the can of beer I was already holding. I've had my share of revelations and enlightenments--- it was their turn.

Though, suddenly it was my turn on Big Mable. I hopped on the bright orange military-grade canvas disc of fun. Five voices shouted in my ears:

"Just, just make sure you grab that thing with your ninja grips!"

"Whatever you do, do not let go!"

"Squeeze it like you've never before!"

"Don't even open your eyes, just hold on!"

"You guys are soooooo fucked!" Or something to that effect.

Suddenly, I was hydroplaning at 35 mph, screaming at every bump. Suddenly, I was on an empty Ala Moana centerstage circa 1998 with Kevin dancing, swaying, in a tight embrace disregarding everyone but our heartbeats. Suddenly, I was getting drunk for the first time... at age 20.75. Suddenly, I was getting my heart broken. Suddenly I was breaking a heart. And then suddenly I was 32 and still didn't know diddly squat---except for a couple of things:

That I must absolutely remember to respect the youth. As cliche and quesadilla-cheesy as it may sound. They are the future and that's simply the truth.  That's also why I should have at least 10 children, but won't.

I must also absolutely remember my own youth --- the disregard for boundaries, the naive state of invincibility, the unjaded take on love and friendship--- the ability to dream and scream big and unapologetically.

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