The Most Beautiful Girl in the World from Issue 67
Aunt Peg entered the Senior Ms. Oahu pageant, the first step toward taking the Senior Ms. America crown, not only because she was beautifulㅡwe all were beautifulㅡbut also because she was a widow and, as her sisters said, missed her husband’s admiration. I was her trainer not only because I was organized and savvy about beauty from my days as a fashion model, but also because Mom had tried that guilty stuff about familial responsibility and being self-absorbed on me. And, though I did not take on the guilt she wanted me to, her talk made me angry enough to take on Aunt Peg and anyone else Mom wanted to foist upon me. Look who was calling whom self-absorbed anyway. How much more self-absorbed could you get than to divorce your husband and then build a concrete block and plywood box of a home thirty feet from your back door for him to live in, not even realizing it would make your eleven-year-old daughter the laughing stock of Prince Kuhio Middle School? OK I was no longer a keiki, and that was all old ground, the war cry of old battles, but I surprised myself by how close I had come to bringing it all back up, I was thirty-two, already too mature for fashion modeling, yet apparently not far enough from adolescence.
I really did take exception to that familial responsibility line, though. “Who stayed with you when you had your neck done?” I asked Mom. “Even as my marriage was breaking up. I did. And besides, we’re all related anyway, at least according to DNA studies. The moke who steals my car is my brother. Where’s his familial responsibility?”
“Who stole your car? No one stole your car,” she said. “You’re more lolo than your father. Aunt Peg never stole your car.”
I gave her a fake smile, then gave up. I’d known all along I’d help Aunt Peg. My family, my cousin Bev in particular but at our mother’s’ urging, had taken care of me when yet another husband dumped me for no reason I could pin down or hold on to. Richard was my third husband, and sure, i could have decided i had a flaw or a hole in my aura or maybe a curse put upon me by someone jealous of my beauty. I could have decided to give up on me and marriage and love, but even when Richard hit the road, I stayed optimistic. I’ve worn shoes that have given me blisters, yet I still buy shoes. I had hope. I believe the decision to go on was mine, and I could get over and survive any betrayals and rejections. I had to. I was beautiful and smart and would be successful. I said all that, yet when Richard left, ran off with our veterinarian’s assistant, a woman with thick ankles and split ends, I grew afraid of the dark.
Luau from Issue 57
Syd Yasuda’s new boyfriend, Fuzzy, did luaus. He worked the hotels mostly, planning and executing the expensive ones advertised as authentic, but was also available for private parties. Fuzzy was Syd’s way of slumming, of living a degenerate life, of coming face to face with sloth and maybe a few of the other seven deadlies. She had met Fuzzy through her after-school job, waitressing in the Royal Hawaiian’s Surf Room, and he laughed at her for studying chemistry. “Such a good little Japanese,” he said. “Nose almost worn away from grindstone.” She knew he was right. Her relatives, especially her grandparents, and great-grandparents, who had worked the sugar plantations, thought it was good to work at waitressing to pay for the privileges of working on a degree that would set her up with a good jobㅡmore workㅡlater on. She thought so too, really, but at twenty-two wanted more than one further step toward the goal, and Fuzzy Kuuliehele was what her family called, just from the mention of his name, an oversexed, lazy Hawaiian. She did not have to tell them he drank tequila straight from the bottle, that he sometimes made himself stupid with Maui Wowee as he waited for the imu stones to heat up, or that he called in sick more than any other Royal Hawaiian employee. Her parents could not say his name without turning purple, and that technicolor display was followed by her grandparents’ cold stare, which both chilled and pleased her. She knew that they were her destiny, but she dreamed of the large black rose tattoos on Fuzzy’s right forearm. And thought he did not want to hear about electrons and neutronsㅡhe claimed that just the thought of tiny things spinning around made him want to barfㅡhe could give her chicken skin by parting her thick, waist-length hair from behind and kissing her neck.
What she thought of as her other vice was Millie. Millie was Syd’s regular customer, a rich widow who lived in a suite three stories above the Surf Room and who said that in spite of her plump, freckled face and limp, blonde hair, her goal was to snag as many men as she could before what looks she had were just a memory. She was forty-one, and time was against her. Though Syd was uncomfortable with Millie’s loudness, and repulsed b the make-up line at her jaw and under her chin, she wanted to be friends with a haole, wanted to go beyond the hatred she heard at home, the constant talk of the camps and how the prisoners were called “yellow” and “slant-eyes” were forbidden to speak Japanese. Her parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles re-lived all that as if it had happened a day or two earlier, rather than before either of her parents were born, so she was delighted when Millie treated her as a friend, teased her about working so hard, teased her about her big hunk of Hawaiian.
When after a few month of hinting and begging, Fuzzy agreed to let Syd help with a luau, a wedding one on a North Shore beach, she immediately asked Millie to go along. Millie shrugged and said it was probably better than doing nothing. Then she showed up that night wearing a black sequined halter top over her crotch-strangling jeans, her hair pulled back and up in a high riding ponytail, and Syd remembered the time at the Aloha Grill when Millie ad-libbed a hula and the locals said the haole lady was funny, not what Syd had though, embarrassingly silly.