I feel really badly about this. I should have said something sooner, but the time has sort of gotten away from me – about twenty years’ worth of time, in fact. Nevertheless, I’m a firm believer in tying up loose ends, no matter how long they’ve been loose, which is why I’m writing about this now.
It all started, as I said, about twenty years ago when Marc and I took the kids on vacation to Hawaii. For us it was a trip of a lifetime, and naturally we were positively giddy with excitement over the fact that Marc had snagged a great deal on a condo with an ocean view. What we discovered upon checking in, however, was that in order to actually access that ocean view, we had to go through a certain process. For those of you who might be considering booking the same accommodation, I’m going to give you the instructions in advance. (I suggest you print them out and put them in your suitcase. It’ll save time when you get there.) To access your view, here’s what you do: First, go into the small (and only) bathroom. Next, plant one foot firmly on each side of the commode seat, facing the wall, and with all your might, crank out the tiny little window above the commode tank as far as it will go, which is only about nine inches. Now, wedge your head into the narrow opening and, being careful not to lacerate your jugular vein, turn your face to the right, where you will see two enormous resort hotels that are so close together they’re almost touching. Looking carefully between the "almost” of those two buildings (it helps if you squint) you can just make out an expanse of blue that, from this distance, is about the width of a soda straw. Behold. That is your "ocean view.” After drinking in this spectacular sight, slowly withdraw through the tiny opening (remember that that the objective is to avoid severing your own head) and gingerly step down from the commode seat. This experience will no doubt leave you marveling at the majesty of God’s creation – or if you’re like me, marveling at the fact that you married such a tightwad.
And now back to my story. One of my husband’s all time favorite pastimes on vacation is early-morning beachcombing. This can pose a real challenge on holidays in the Rocky Mountains, but here in Hawaii it was a cinch, what with Waikiki Beach only a scant twenty-minute walk past the abovementioned resorts. Typically when we travel Marc gets up with the sun, or with his internal clock, whichever wakes him up earliest, and slips out quietly, leaving me to sleep in peacefully, which is my all time favorite pastime on vacation. Two hours later he returns with a collection of boring little sand-covered seashells which he ceremoniously dumps next to me on the bed for what we refer to around our house as the "Pussycat McRorey” treatment – referring to a cat that once belonged to Marc’s aunt, who routinely deposited her dead mice and lizards on the doorstep for approval (I am, of course, talking about the cat here – not the aunt.) So anyway, things proceeded in accordance with the normal routine on that particular morning two decades ago, save one tiny difference. Well, two actually.
On this occasion, rather than dumping his prized cache onto the bed, Marc pulled the old "hold out your hand and close your eyes” bit. Like an idiot I complied. When I opened my eyes I was holding, not the usual odd assortment of nondescript, colorless, chipped seashells, but a woman’s upper plate! Naturally I shrieked (well wouldn’t you?) and sent it flying, where it then came to rest on my pillow. That’s right – on my pillow! Eewwww!
Once my shock had subsided, Marc and I turned our thoughts to the gravity of his find. I mean, clearly his gain was someone’s unfortunate loss, and our vivid imaginations reconstructed the scene as it must have unfolded:
Edwina (from Enid, Oklahoma): "Ooh, Milton, I can’t believe we’re actually in Hawaii! If the ladies from my DAR could only see me now! Come on. Let’s go to the beach!”
Milton: "For cryin’ out loud, Edwina, we just checked in. I need a nap.”
Edwina: "Suit yourself, but I’m not waiting around. Here. Put some sun block on my back. And put these little band-aids on my moles.”
Ten minutes later Edwina’s lifelong dream of splashing in the waves off Waikiki Beach is about to come true. She kicks off her shoes and runs headlong into the surf with childlike glee. "Here comes a big one!” she squeals. "Wheeeeeeee!” Suddenly she is knocked heels over head by the huge wave, as what was out goes in (i.e. her bathing suit, which wedges itself into places she never knew she had) and what was in comes out (i.e. her upper plate, which instantly washes away in the swirling tide.) She said it best herself – If the ladies from her DAR could only see her now.
For the longest time Marc and I grappled with what to do next. Should we go resort-to-resort posting flyers? What if the owner wasn’t staying at one of the ocean front properties? What if she was married to a tightwad and her "ocean view” was as imaginative as ours? There were literally hundreds of those places on the island. Besides, there was no telling how long ago the unfortunate incident had occurred. A little object like this could take weeks, or even years to finally wash up on shore. Heck, for all we knew the wearer might have been a passenger on the Titanic. (Did Molly Brown wear dentures? I should look that up. Oh wait. Wrong ocean. Never mind.)
No, the sad truth was that we might never find out whom this upper plate belonged to, and there was no point in using up half our vacation trying, so I just wrapped it in a shower cap, stuck it in my makeup bag and brought it home. The fact that I still have it after more than two decades probably says more about my twisted sense of humor than I’m willing to admit. Still, I feel badly that I never made much of an attempt to find its rightful owner.
So in an effort to finally set my conscience at ease I’m posting this photograph. If you recognize the item in question, and can accurately place yourself in the Pacific Ocean anywhere between, say April of 1912 and July of 1988, let me hear from you. And again, please accept my apologies. I really should have said something sooner.