By Diane Haynes Woodburn
What’s the best thing about Maui?” I asked our guests. “Being here!” Deb said with an obvious nod to her host. “No, really,” I cajoled. “Well,” her husband began, “one of my best days. . . .” and for the next three hours, we shared our stories, our manao about paddling, surfing, beaches, hiking, dinners, friends, and those moments that left us holding our sides with laughter, and wiping away the tears. Here is one of my favorites:
What should have been a gorgeous summer day had turned into The Day The Sky Broke Open—when the heavens dumped enough rain to last the next six months. It was the day before a big luau we had planned for my dad’s birthday—and we had spent it in the yard, preparing for it with friends and family. Needless to say, nothing was going right.
An hour or so earlier, Kimokeo had delivered a 100-pound pig that we weren’t quite ready to receive. “How about that lawn bench?” I suggested. The center was scooped out lengthwise to make it more comfortable for rounded bottoms, and in this case, just right for holding a very large pig. “Perfect,” Jamie pronounced. Soon the pig was ensconced on its makeshift table. This was my first close-up encounter with a luau pig, and I found it a bit disconcerting. “Is that thing smirking?” I wondered, images from Lord of the Flies dancing menacingly through my mind. As the men began preparing the pig for the imu, I retreated from the sodden affair to the cozy warmth of my kitchen.
Sometime later, having won the battle over elements and pig, the men tromped into the house, soaked to the skin, but with their machismo intact. We gathered around the family table for a welcome, hot dinner. “What did you finally do with the pig?” I asked. “It’s fine,” my husband answered. “It’s on the bench by the imu.”
“Umm,” I began cautiously, “you aren’t worried about the dogs?” We had four—three of them each weighing more than the pig. Jamie looked up from his plate, eyes wide. He glanced at Kendall, who returned the look of abject fear. Both bolted for the door. “We can load it in the back of the truck,” my husband hollered, as they raced out into the downpour.
Jamie backed the truck as close to the pig as possible. I can only imagine the conversation between the two men as they struggled to pick up the bench, each slipping and sliding in the mud, trying to balance and maintain their grip. Huddled around the kitchen window, we watched as the bench slowly rose, Jamie at the back, Kendall at the front, pig in the middle. Step. Step. Step. In a gingerly unison the Rockettes would have admired, men, bench and teetering mass of pig approached the truck. While Jamie steadied the back end, Kendall hoisted the front over the lowered tailgate. (I could swear that I heard a grunt; I just didn’t know whose.)
They had it. Or did they? The pig began inching downward, the carved-out center of the bench a perfect shoot. Like a cartoon character in slow motion, the grinning pig slid further and further down its slippery slide, gaining momentum. As Jamie struggled to restore equilibrium, tomorrow’s dinner became an unstoppable porcine torpedo. With legs splayed as if for embrace, the pig engulfed Jamie, who slipped in the slick grass and fell, pinned helplessly under the pig’s indomitable, er, charms.
The roar of the rain barely dampened our earsplitting laughter. “Someone help him,” I managed to plead, wiping tears from my eyes.
Jamie survived the ordeal, and the pig came to a just and delicious end. Dad returned to celebrate another birthday—happily, in better weather. And the memories and laughter have remained with us, ever since.
I believe the best of Maui is the stories we share, with love and aloha. We at Maui No Ka ʻOi feel honored to share ours with you.