Okinawan Festival 2014

Labor Day weekend means two things. First: THREE-DAY WEEK-END! clap, clap, clapclapclap. Second: I have to make rice for the Okinawan Festival. There’s no chee-huuing or cute clapping for that one.

Just in case you've never seen a photo of the opposite of fun.

Just in case you’ve never seen a photo of the opposite of fun.

Matty and I “volunteer” for a four-hour shift every year in support of our family’s Okinawan club. You know, because lowering the softball team’s batting average isn’t enough. We usually make rice. Last year, the two of us were in charge of pre-cooking the chicken. This year the two of us washed the trays the chicken is cooked on. That’s right, four hours of scrubbing, washing, and rinsing. Here is the list of things Matty and I talked about: the Mets, the Red Sox, baseball in general, college football, betting on college football, losing bets on college football, MallratsNew Girl, missing out on Marvel movies, Netflix, William Wallace shouting “Freeeeeedoooom!” and how slowly time seems to pass when you’ve got a nice cocktail of dishwater, Dawn, and chicken grease under your fingernails.

Ho, not da mop sesh, ah?

Ho, not da mop sesh, ah?

Winner!

Winner!

Whoa, bebe!

Whoa, bebe!

When my shift finally and mercifully ended, I walked over to the festival at Kapiolani Park and met up with Lynnette and Madison. They had already picked out a shady spot under a tree when I found them. Lynnette ate the yakisoba and Madison of course went with the andadog. I was wiped out so I simply lay on my back starting at the blue through the holes in the leaves of the tree.

We hit up the games after lunch and Madison won a 2-liter bottle of Sierra Mist after throwing an incredible 24 plastic rings. Of those 24 rings, she must have thrown at least ten of them either into the side of the first row of bottles or under the table completely. Four of the rings she threw ricocheted off of the people running the game. The velocity was great, but she had zero command out there.

Madison spent the last of the scrips on various inflatable slides and bouncers. They were pretty run of the mill, but Madison had the misfortune of attempting to slide down a structure that had been bathing in the sun all day. She began her slide, but she quickly kicked her legs out in front of her, then bounced a quarter of the way down before jumping to the bottom. She had that look on her face which reflects genuine fear. She made it down safely, however, and quickly announced she would be returning to the slide which had been shaded from the sun during the afternoon. Good call.

Madison and Hot McStuffins.

Madison and Hot McStuffins.

For the first time in the history of our attendance at the Okinawan Festival, Lynnette agreed to go to the beach afterward. I can’t even remember why she’d shot me down all of those years, but I never understood it. I would have just emerged from four hours in a muggy kitchen into the blazing sun; the beach beckoned a street away. And we would never ever go. But we did today and it was glorious. Lynnette, Madison, and I threw the ball around for a while. It was probably the most relaxed I’ve been since the school year started. I was glad to have spent this afternoon with them, as I’ve seen little of them this past work week.

Pokemon addict.

Pokemon addict.

Pokemon scholar.

Pokemon scholar.

I checked my phone in between scrubbing trays and saw a text from Lynnette that read “I told her she could get one thing.” I few minutes later, Lynnette sent me this picture. I laughed out loud. Lynnette would later tell me that she told Madison they’d take a break for snack soon after purchasing the book. Madison would go on to ask Lynnette about the timing of this so-called break until they ended up back in the car. At that point, she blocked out the rest of the world.

I saw it for myself on the way home from Waikiki. My usually talkative backseat-talker was silent. We were at a stoplight when Lynnette gestured to me to look at Madison. She was completely engrossed in her book. I called up my phone’s front-facing camera and snapped a few pictures of her, completely unaware. I few seconds later, I shot out a psst! and this sequence unfolded. I know I am both biased and prone to exaggeration, but Madison really is the best.

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