Welcome to our Island Living issue! This volume is packed with great stories, from an ultra-luxurious beach home in Mākena, to a (literal) down-to-earth guide of what to plant, where and when. We have cowboys playing polo, Maui’s chef Sheldon Simeon sharing recipes, and friends telling ghost stories. What then, is the quintessential island living story? The one that gets retold time and again and which leaves you laughing until you cry. These stories define our friendships, and honor family and friends who have passed. This story is one of my favorites, and to this day I laugh out loud at the memory.
What should have been a gorgeous summer afternoon had turned into “The Day the Sky Broke Open.” The rain fell relentlessly, drenching the yard, the lawn and all of us as we prepared for a big lū‘au we had planned for my father’s birthday the next day. It would be held outdoors, and we hustled about the soggy yard, preparing for the arrival of more than a hundred friends and family.
In the middle of the torrent, our friend Kimokeo delivered a 100-pound lū‘au pig we weren’t quite ready to receive. We looked around for a place to deposit our dinner-to-be.
“How about that bench?” I suggested. The center of the long seat had been scooped out lengthwise to make it more comfortable for rounded bottoms; its shape also made it ideal for cradling a very large pig.
“Perfect,” Jamie said, and they settled the pig onto the bench.
This was my first close-up encounter with a lū‘au pig, and I found it a bit disconcerting.
“Is that thing smirking?” I asked. Snippets of Lord of the Flies played in my head as the men began preparing the pig for the imu (underground oven). I left them to it and hastily retreated from the sodden affair to the cozy warmth of my kitchen.
Later, having won the battle over both elements and pig, the men tromped into the house for dinner, dripping and drenched and full of machismo. We all sat down for dinner.
“What did you finally do with the pig?” I asked.
“It’s fine,” Jamie answered. “It’s on the bench by the imu.”
“Aren’t you worried about the dogs?” I asked. At the time we had four — and three of them each weighed more than the pig. Jamie looked up from his plate, eyes wide with abject fear. He and our friend Kendall leapt up and bolted for the door.
“Load it into the back of the truck!” Jamie yelled as they dove back into the downpour. He backed the truck into the yard and as close to the pig as possible and lowered the tailgate. I can only imagine the conversation between them as they struggled to lift the bench, slipping and sliding in the mud. The rest of us watched through the window as they managed to raise the bench, then step by step — and in a gingerly unison the Rockettes would have admired — minced toward the truck balancing the teetering pig. Jamie steadied the back end while Kendall hoisted the front up and over the lowered tailgate. I could have sworn I heard a grunt; I just didn’t know whose.
They had it!
Or did they?
In cartoonish slow motion, the grinning pig began to slide down the bench, its concave shape now forming the perfect chute for slippery swine. Jamie struggled to restore equilibrium, but as the pig gained momentum, it became an unstoppable porcine torpedo. With its legs splayed open, the pig shot off the end of the bench and engulfed Jamie in a hooved embrace. I watched as my husband slipped and fell in the slick grass, and was pinned helplessly underneath the pig in very, very close quarters with its (ahem) nether regions.
Not even the roar of the rain could quench 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 arrived the next day to celebrate his birthday in better weather, and the memories and laughter have remained with us, ever since.
A hui hou,
Diane Haynes Woodburn, Publisher