I’m pretty sure Lynnette chee huu’d when she learned that the Made in Hawaii Expo was going on this weekend. That’s to be expected. What I couldn’t have foreseen was how many other people were psyched up, apparently, for food and goods manufactured here in the good old fiftieth state.
There was no traffic at Middle Street and I offered a fatted calf to the traffic gods, but the sacrifice came too soon. The single lane leading to the Kinau exit was backed up past the Punchbowl exit, down to the Pali off ramp. By the time we got to the intersection fronting the Blaisdell parking lot, an old man in an orange safety vest stood at its entrance shaking his head and hands, the universal signals for “no more.” If you are having trouble visualizing this, just imagine those guys in aloha shirts at the Ko’olina lagoon parking lots if you’re unfortunate enough to arrive after 9 AM. We ended up parking in an unpaved lot on the McKinley High School campus. It was fitting. Since we were going to the Made in Hawaii Expo, we had to deal with the thing the people of Hawaii make best: traffic.
I suppose the holiday had something to do with it, but this was by far the most crowded event I’ve ever been to. The exhibition hall was lined with the usual number of vendors, but the sea of humanity was thick. I don’t know how many people are legally allowed to occupy the large room, but whatever number Lynnette, her parents, Madison, and myself were part of this morning seriously tested the air conditioning’s ability to condition the air. When Lynnette went to check out a jewelry stand set up in the shape of a 10×10 horseshoe, she was joined by about 25 other women. It was insane. Madison and I waited in a less congested area. Eventually, Lynnette emerged victorious with a new pair of earrings and we continued to walk, shuffle, excuse ourselves, and tip-toe through the aisles. By the way, am I upset that you’ve randomly bumped into a friend that you haven’t seen in forever? No. But I am going to be upset if you and your friend stop to have the conversation in the middle of the walkway. C’mon, man.
Madison was very vocal about the fact that the Expo was “mostly adult stuff.” She checked out the usual clothing and accessories but did not purchase (or have her parents purchase) anything. “Look, this is one of mom’s favorite things,” I said. Madison scowled her anticipation of what was coming next. “What do you have to be?” I asked her. “Patient!” she said, her eyes going slot machine. Not all was lost, however, as she did find a bunch of samples to snack on. As her patience wore thin, I threw out a last ditch attempt to save us. “Do you see that?” I asked. “What?” she said. “Those are clothes trainers buy for their Pokemon,” I said, pointing to a booth selling dog clothing. “OH, REALLY?” Madison replied. For the next five minutes, I gave Madison an ad-libbed tour of the exhibition hall, changing everything to a Pokemon context. She loved it so much that she saved that piece of cracker there in her hand for her “Pokemon at home,” and she didn’t mean Abby.
On our way to the Blaisdell, I made a joke about having seen all of the products several times before. The main draw for Lynnette, however, was a boutique she’d never seen before. MachineMachine offers dresses, shorts, and hats. While some of Lynnette’s senses have dulled over time, her keen taste in fashion has not. Lynnette liked several of the dresses on display, but Madison was fascinated by the little tent for women to use as a dressing room. You know what Madison saw when she looked at it? A base with pictures on it. Lynnette tried on several dresses and Madison was dying to get up in there. I told Mad that it was too small for Lynnette to change with two people in the tent. “But I’m a small person,” Madison said. Sure. I told Madison she could sneak in there once Lynnette had tried on the final dress. She let loose that giggle that I love so much, then crawled into the tent with Lynnette. My lovely wife was initially put off by the price of the dress, but I assured her it was fine with me. She really liked it and it fits her well. In time, Lynnette can simply trim the bottom of the dress to shorten it if she chooses. It’s versatile. All of that is the shopping equivalent of stars aligning. Lynnette and I have learned not to ignore those rare celestial events.