The Marine at the bar

The Stevenson's Library bar in the Grand Hyatt Kauai.

The other thing I asked the bellman, besides how to get back to the lobby, was where I should have dinner. You know, the thing about a big resort like the Grand Hyatt is that the property is so sprawling and it takes so long to get your car that you’re kind of held hostage to the resort. Not that I was likely my first night to go off-property even if my car was parked directly below me. I was tired and I was hungry and I wanted a drink. Now.

Anyway, the bellman suggested I go to Tidepools, which is the resort’s high-end restaurant. It’s a series of thatched huts, called hale pilis, that sits over a koi-filled lagoon. Very nice, very romantic, and very expensive. But I wasn’t sure I had any truly clean clothes and I was on my own so eating at someplace chic by myself didn’t sound too appealing.

Then the guy suggested their bar, Stevenson’s Library. “Martinis and sushi,” he said. That sounded like just what I was looking for.

You know, you go to a bar in a beach resort and you sort of assume everyone is going to be in shorts and sarongs or something, so after showering, I’d changed into a relatively clean polo shirt and navy shorts. But Stevenson’s Library isn’t exactly your typical resort bar. It’s more like a Victorian-era gentleman’s club. Lots of dark wood paneling, low lights, and a beautiful 27-foot handcrafted koa wood bar. Most of the people there looked like they were going to a fancy cocktail party. Still, I wasn’t the only one is shorts and a polo shirt.

Normally this bar only serves pupus—shrimp cocktail, tempura poke roll, coconut chicken strips—but Fridays through Mondays they offer sushi from 6 to 9. So I ordered a lychee martini (vodka, lychee liqueur, and lychee juice) while looking over the sushi menu. While I was sitting there a young Marine, in dress uniform, came in and sat at the far end of the bar by himself. He didn’t look happy. He looked tense and uncomfortable and in need of a drink. So while the bartender was standing in front of me waiting for my order, I told him I wanted to buy the Marine a drink. The bartender went over to the soldier and asked him what he wanted to drink and then pointed towards me and said I was buying. The Marine was very polite. He got up off his stool and came over and said he appreciated it, he really did, but he didn’t want me to buy him a drink. He’d just come in to be alone and have a drink and he’d buy his own. I told him it was my pleasure to get the first one but he insisted once again that he was going to buy his own drink.

I don’t know what was going on here. He was sweating like it was a hundred degrees out and we were standing out in the hot sun and his face was kind of gray and clammy. If I didn’t know better I’d of said he was in shock. And maybe he was. Who knows what his story was? There had been a wedding on the lawn earlier in the day and I was thinking that since he was in his dress uniform, maybe he’d been in that. Maybe a buddy of his had gotten married. Maybe he’d come straight from Iraq or Afghanistan to be in this wedding and he was thinking of buddies that weren’t over at the Grand Hyatt in Kauai ordering a drink at a Hawaiian gentleman’s bar. I just don’t know. But I felt for him. And I wish he would have let me buy him a drink.

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  1. Allan’s avatar

    Or maybe he thought you were trying to pick him up. Some people have uniform fetishes.

    But I think you may be closer to reality when you suggest he is just back home from the war. I find it bizarre that a war has been on-going for a decade and yet there is no suffering or deprivation on the home front, like our parents and grandparents experienced during World War Two. I was in Las Vegas when a couple of guys in camouflage walked through a casino. People gave them the thumbs up, patted their backs and immediately turned away to play the slots. It was 15 seconds of fame.

    It must be extraordinarily weird to go from a dusty, humid, hellishly hot hostile environment where any thing and anyone could be carrying a bomb to a place which is lush and luxurious and a home(land) that now feels alien.

  2. david’s avatar

    I think you’re spot on. This guy just gave off this total vibe of having PTSD.

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