If you are what you read that explains my life as I swim through my days, the color, the conversation, the surprises. I have been reading a lot of Pynchon.
“That’s my favorite Thai restaurant,” Bill said on our way back from drinks at the Mai Tai bar at the Royal Hawaiian Friday night. We stopped in front of the hole-in-the-wall restaurant, mainly take-out, on Royal Hawaiian Ave. in Waikiki. I noticed a narrow alley next to the restaurant.
“What’s that?” I said. I pointed toward a flashing neon pink arrow and a doorway at the end of the dark passage.
“A strip club,” Bill said.
“All nude,” said a black girl sitting with her friend on the bench in front of the Thai place. She was smiling, giving off lots of white teeth. Her hair was beach-braided and long. “I like girls,” she said.
Her friend was looking down, rolling a joint, using her purple purse as a make-shift table. She was pulling at a sticky greenish-brown clump, crumbling pieces between her thumb and forefinger, laying the ripe weed into place on the rolling paper. The oily aroma of skunk hung heavy in the air between us.
“That’s strong,” I said, “I can smell that from here.”
She looked up and smiled. She had a bright white smile like her friend. Pretty girls. “Sure is,” she said. I thought I caught a hit of pride in her tone.
A chopstick lay on the sidewalk. It glowed under the yellow Waikiki glare of neon, street lights, signs, anything to lure a tourist into a local business.
“I love that smell,” I said. “Is it legal here?”
“Don’t know,” the first girl said.
“Does it matter?” The other girl shrugged.
We agreed that it probably didn’t. The girls said they were from LA. South Central.
“When you’re good and toasted,” Bill said, “The food here is really good.” The girls looked behind them as if they were just noticing the restaurant.
“Hey,” said the girl who likes all-nude. “I like you two.”
She reached into her bag, dug around. “Here,” she said. She extended her hand, fist closed and I opened my palm to receive a skunky gift wrapped in a boarding pass.