Beyond the Reef
a few weeks ago i went to a luau.
the host, pia, pretty much went nuts with it.
thatch huts, pig roasting in a pit, tiki bar, parrots, palm trees,
smoke coming out of a gigantic faux stone carved god,
leis and limbo.
the tropics, smack dab in the middle of this steely town.
i almost had to shake the sand from my hair.
she took a vacation from reality (and her sanity)
and so generously tried to take as many as she could with her.
while nursing a rum induced hang-over the next morning, i remembered
the only other luau i had ever attended some twenty years ago.
--there, with all the necessary accoutrements as required by the governing luau police, was also entertainment in the form of professional
(as in paid) polynesian dancers.
it all seemed like a very benign party. food and drink. flower in the hair. floor sitting. blah blah blah until the dancers showed up.
now this is the part that i cringe about even now as i am writing this...
the dancers started performing a tahitian number.
the guests, people i socialized with, seemingly decent human beings some of which i had grown up with, all started heckling the performers for no apparent reason. it was moblike. i was surrounded by people jeering, taunting and mocking the hawaiian performance.
there may even have been food tossed, i don't know.
there is both clarity and vagueness to my memory.
i am clear about what i felt at that exact moment, yet vague because i was ashamed.
clear about remembering the confused expressions on the performers faces, yet vague because i was frozen.
clear about realizing that i did not like the people i was with, yet vague because i said nothing.
it took me many years before i went back to that memory (i like to set things aside) and ruminated on the harsh truth about human nature.
some people are simply uncomfortable in the absence of a delineator.
we were all dressed alike.
guests and entertainment in tropical costume.
i guess when it became difficult to tell the difference between the
hired help and the elite, it became threatening.
the line became quite clear between the hecklers and the heckled.