“Life is full of ups and downs, honey. We have to celebrate every minute before we drain our last tiki mug.”
Cue the Maidens!
IS A JIGGER of tranquility really too much to ask for?
Standing behind a twelve-foot koa wood bar, Em Johnson, manager of the Tiki Goddess on Kauai’s North Shore, started prepping for the day ahead. After filling the ice bin, she sliced fruit for the sectional dish that held lime, pineapple, lemon slices, and maraschino cherries for the tropical concoctions tourists ordered in droves.
Across the room, Pat Boggs, better known as “Sarge,” struggled to wrangle an incorrigible group of geriatric hula dancers into some semblance of order. The senior dancers, a.k.a the Hula Maidens, had stubbornly conned their way into becoming the featured act at the Goddess.
“Okay, you gol’danged left-footed boobies, shut up and get in line! You do know what a line is don’t ’cha? It’s show time!” Pat hollered.
Pat’s voice grated on Em’s nerves like nails on a chalkboard.
Em inhaled, closed her eyes, and slowly counted to ten. When she opened her eyes, she found herself staring up at Nat Clark, a full time television script writer and part-time Kauai resident from L.A. Nat owned the refurbished plantation cottage on the beach next door to the Goddess. A tall hedge separated his property from their parking lot.
“You look like you need a break already,” he said.
“I was thinking about hiding at your place,” Em said. “It would serve you right if the camera crew followed me over.”
Nat watched the commotion across the barroom where the Maidens were trying not to fidget while a cameraman balanced a huge handheld camera on his shoulder. He panned across them and then filmed the three-piece band on the stage.
“You realize I haven’t had a minute of peace since this whole thing started.” Em opened a new box of colorful cocktail umbrellas and set it on the bar near the garnishes. Ever since the pilot for a reality show based on the Goddess had aired, the lives of everyone connected with the place had been turned upside down. The show had aptly been named Trouble in Paradise.
“Back the dancers out of the way. I want a close up of the Tiki Tones.” The cameraman fought to be heard over Pat’s hollering.
“She takes her job seriously,” Nat said.
“She does,” Em agreed. “With little success.”
They watched Pat try to herd the Maidens away from the stage. Outfitted for a full dress rehearsal, all of the dancers were garbed in pink cellophane grass skirts tied over neon-yellow spandex cat suits—very large, very neon, cat suits.
Pat waved her arms. “Move back, ya’ll. Let the cameraman in, would’ya? Back up, I say. Can’t cha hear?”
The line of dancers fell apart as Pat urged them toward the center of the room. Dressed in the worn cowboy boots, white socks, cargo shorts, and baggy Aloha shirt over a bleach-stained, faded tank top, Pat’s appearance was gender non-specific. Her close-cropped hair and lack of makeup made it impossible to tell if she was a woman or a young man.
Pat was the first to admit she “Didn’t give a good gol’durned turd” about it.
“She was enlisted to save the Maidens from themselves, and despite the odds, she’s bound and determined to succeed . . . whether they like it or not. Most of the time they don’t,” Em said.
Nat watched one of the heftier Maidens adjust her cleavage by yanking at the neckline of her top and heaving it up.
“I didn’t know spandex had that much give,” he said.
“You can see why I’m ready to get out of here.”
“My door is always open,” he told Em. “Make yourself at home anytime.”
“I was serious when I said the crew would probably follow me over to your place. Every time I turn around there’s a camera in my face.”
“Worse than bad. Yesterday the producer said he’d give me a co-producing credit if I kept Little Estelle from yelling ‘Call me Cougar!’ every fifteen minutes.”
“Cougar? She’s what? Ninety?” Nat laughed.
“Ninety-two. It’s not funny. The woman is a sex maniac. Want some coffee?” She offered.
“I’d love some.”
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