There’s something extremely celebratory about Honolulu. For instance, I’ve never been anyplace in the world where visitors are so zealous about taking photos documenting every single thing they do.
At dinner last night at Ciao Mein, these three young gorgeous Japanese women with gardenias in their hair snapped pics of each other holding out their mai tais as if they were Oscars while across the room a pasty elderly Scandinavian man took shot after shot of his flushed, chubby wife vainly attempting to mimic the figure eight moves of a hula dancer. I don’t think there was a single table in the restaurant (and this is a very elegant, very expensive restaurant) where someone wasn’t taking photos—of their drinks, their giant Tiger prawns, even of the cute wait staff.
If you’re in Paris, yes, you grab a quick photo of you in front of the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame. But you don’t dare snap photos inside a restaurant. Or get your boyfriend to take a shot of you hugging a long-pole fisherman on the Seine. But on Waikiki, the lifeguards get so many requests to have their photo taken with some cute Gidget that they practically hide in their lifeguard towers.
The other thing is that in places like Rome or Toronto, you go to a nice restaurant and you see a lot of glum, silent couples on holiday doing what I call “This-marriage-is-so-over” vacation routine, which includes getting dressed up and going out and then not saying a single word to each other.
But not, for some reason, in Honolulu. Forever-married couples in outdated outfits and dorky haircuts seem honestly thrilled to be here—and with each other. They get all excited sitting on a bench on Waikiki watching the sun set. And that enthusiasm can be oddly infectious. It makes me happy for them; it makes me happy to be here as well.