Oahu wasn’t the sort of place known for its high society events and its Sunday polo matches would be considered quite provincial by European standards. Some of the polo players displayed talent, however, and the matches were fun to watch. Oahu’s polo crowd was an eclectic mix of the island’s who’s who, Honolulu’s social climbers and whatever can be found lurking at the North Shore. I made up my mind to go early in the morning and being dateless as I all too often was on a Sunday morning and I texted out my designs on the day to the usual suspects; Emili, Sandy, Amy, and of course Candy.
It was no surprise that Candy called back first. She probably wanted to “borrow” money. I waited for more replies. Dammit. Dateless, and with only the one reply, I arranged to pick Candy up in Waikiki, a treacherous place to take my car. It seemed to me that the police prepare for my arrival in Waikiki in the same way that Wile E. Coyote prepares for the Roadrunner. Oh well, what wouldn’t I do for Candy?
Running a bit late, I picked her up without incident. No police. No drama loading her into the car. She only suggested that we needed to pick up a candle for a votive that she was carrying. Having arrived later than I had hoped, I made the error of picking her up before having collected snacks and wine. The resulting stop at Safeway was considerably dearer than I had hoped for. Apart from the votive candles, she started filling a huge container with olives and feta from the deli.
“Baby, I don’t like olives.” I said.
“It’s only a few!” She retorted, with a look that didn’t quite justify the gallon-sized drum of food she was filling like some sort of refugee you see on late-night TV.
I don’t eat olives, but suspected that she may have not eaten a full meal for days. I didn’t know. For the first time in a long time, however, I resisted her desire and talked her down to a snack sized portion of any food I wouldn’t eat. Negotiations followed that upped our picnic fare from a large sub sandwich to brie, port cheese, pate and a freshly baked and sliced artisan loaf along all the picnic things that she somehow, albeit not surprisingly, neglected to bring. After adding one new votive candle, the total summed up to little too much money for comfort, but I knew it would and we headed out on the road.
I took the long way to the North Shore, half on purpose and half by accident. I’m well known by my friends for always forgetting my way around the island and I made a mistake this time. Ending up in Kaneohe, we buckled in for the long drive over the northern hump of the island. It was fortuitous in a way; I wanted to talk to Candy about her life and about her marriage proposal from months earlier. It was still a laughable topic but I wanted to get to the bottom of it. It was still so incredulous that I had to hear her flesh out the offer one more time to see what it was that made her propose it.
The road to the North Shore has one lane with a lazy 45 mp/h speed limit that is usually driven at about 35 by most of the even lazier motorists on a Sunday. We had time to talk. Perhaps fearing too much talk she popped a CD into the player and turned up the volume to where it hurt my ears. I turned it down to where it didn’t hurt, but it was too loud to talk. We wrestled with the volume switch for the rest of the way. I turned it down whenever I wanted to talk and she turned it back up again, presumably to hurt my ears, but despite the prolonged battle for the mastery of the volume, we did manage to slip in some conversation.
The music was a mixed CD of what I can only assume is the most unusual mix ever assembled. There was gospel, opera, 50’s music, 80’s pop and nearly everything in between. One unusual track started to play; Don Felder’s “Heavy Metal” from the movie and soundtrack. I remember it very vividly as it was set to the background of a scene from the movie where an astronaut is performing orbital re-entry in a white ’55 Corvette. Who could forget such a scene? I was 16 years old when it came out and had to sneak into the theatres to see it because of the ‘R’ rating. Candy lit up when the song began.
“How did this end up in your collection?” I asked?
Unthinkingly, she blurted out “When I was fifteen… no FOURteen, I went to the drive in with my boyfriend and saw this and we had both smoked some pot.”
“I’m 36 now.” She added.
I remarked that it was probably a good movie to see while stoned, based on the testimony of others. I’ve never smoked the rare herb and told her so, probably for the hundredth time. Once again I decried my brand loyalty to my drug of choice; alcohol. It was then that I started doing a little math in my head. Despite cries of “Bullshit!” from girlfriends of mine who seemed to think she was older than 36, it seemed to me that she had been 36 for 2 years now. Hmmm… if the movie came out in ’81 and I was only…
“Hey! She has to be in her 40’s!” I concluded to myself silently.
Candy and I rocked out to the tune and I pretended in my head that I was also performing an orbital re-entry. A group of cars got in the way and I dropped into 2nd gear and passed about 4 of them at a go. Candy forgot to feign fear as she usually did when I drove fast, explaining that she trusted me now. Good. It was time for some trust and hopefully for some truth.
I made some small talk and then tried to resume the ongoing conversation about the marriage proposal Candy had made to me. It was a six month old offer and desperate sounding at the time, though she seemed to have no hint of desperation now. I had to hear the justification though. I had to hear it.
“So Candy, do you want to talk about that thing we’ve talked about before?” I started.
She knew what I meant.
“Well I don’t see the sense of it,” she replied. “You won’t even support me now.”
“You mean I’m supposed to start paying your bills the moment you ask?” I asked. “Why would I do that when we are not in a relationship?”
“That’s just how it works.” She said, adding that I would also have to give her an allowance and she would have to live in Hawaii most of the time because her mom needed constant support.
It was funnier than I could have imagined. I bit my tongue ‘til it hurt. She explained all of this bullshit with a completely straight face. She logically explained that without a shred of romantic feeling toward me, that I should find some sense of duty within me to start supporting her. During moments when I could talk without laughing at her I rebutted that her current boyfriend didn’t have any money and didn’t pay her bills. I reminded her of her failed career and what someone like me, if not me specifically, could to get her back on track to a life more in keeping with her talents. Apparently, that was not relevant to the discussion. Then, thinking about the call for financial support I recalled an old Lou Reed song lyric and blurted it out.
“Love is trust, no money down.” I explained.
She allowed herself a chuckle and we changed the subject to who would be at the match and how she had not been getting calls from her, or rather our, or perhaps more accurately, my friends lately. I suggested that because she was so involved with her boyfriend and her work that they were not too happy that she was never available and that showing up at the polo match would fix everything.
We arrived to find the Bob the polo guy coordinating things at the gate. He told me that I had at least 150 friends in attendance already and I was in for a good time. Candy giggled and I swear that she glowed for a moment. We parked and unloaded our precious kit, catching a view of Amazon as we headed for the field. Amazon was a tall and delicious redhead with friends at every level of Oahu society. Few people knew her real name, but her party name suited her to a tee. Like the Amazon she was grand, breathtaking and impossibly untamed.
Candy and I joined Amazon with our blankets, food and wine. She had arrived ahead of us and was already sitting with other friends of mine, most of whom knew Candy, either in person or for one of her many infamous stories. Candy shovelled olives for a second time on this day, this time into her throat. A pint of olives and feta was gone before I could empty the Safeway bag. Satisfied that I didn’t want any olives anyway I dug into the wine, brie, pate and the artisan loaf which smelled divine. No power on earth can satisfy a man more earnestly than the smell of fresh baked bread.
Having fed ourselves and having made a small dent in the wine, Candy and I agreed to take a walk around the field to see who else we knew. In the expensive seats at the middle of the field sat Johnathan Baker Smith, who was the first recognizable fellow we came across. He was an older, benevolent and well-to-do gentleman who kept the most extraordinary company, most notably beautiful women. I was aware that Candy had been part of his entourage for a while but was not any longer. I can only assume that she breached some sort of social contract, and perhaps ditched him at events as she did everyone else at everything else she ever attended.
Nonetheless, he was polite and introduced us to his current entourage, which was a mixture of beauty and power with few of them possessing both. We wandered a little further and found more mutual friends; Michelle, Sandy, “other” Amy, Angelica and a couple of women I didn’t know… yet. Candy, upon seeing her collection of old friends, groaned heavily and lamented that we had already made the mistake of sitting ourselves with Amazon. She pointed out that sitting with these friends would be a far superior way to spend the afternoon and that we should fetch our things at once. I replied that it was best not to slight anyone and that we would all be at the dance together anyway, besides we still have more of the field to tour.
I didn’t see much more of Candy for the rest of the evening and what I did see, I wish I hadn’t. Before we could get more than a few steps from Michelle and her group, a young and broad-shouldered photographer had caught Candy’s eye. Candy wanted to stay and be photographed with her new friend and I insisted that she wait until we had toured the field. It was folly to argue. Candy gushed over her new find and would not leave his side. Michelle rose to the occasion and agreed to walk with me around the field in Candy’s place, to see who we could see.
The rest of the Candy encounters for the evening were fleeting. I saw her offering the last of my brie and pate to young men around the field. She stopped by me briefly to light the votive candle and say a prayer for our friendship. Later I saw her dancing with the photographer. Lastly, she said she was taking a quick walk to the beach. I waited. The band finished playing. They turned out the lights. Candy was gone. I phoned and texted. Gone.
Driving home was much faster. No strained conversation. No need to bite my tongue. I plugged in my audio book and let it take me back to Ancient Greece while I carefully managed the road home. It’s most of the way across the island from North Shore to Hawaii Kai. On this part of my vacation, I was staying at a girlfriend’s house, who was out of town on business. Tired from the day and perplexed by Candy’s antics I undressed and climbed into bed with my book still blaring the exploits of the Spartans and Athenians into my brain.
Just a little before midnight I stirred… phone. Again it went and again: Then a text. Candy, I thought. What could she possibly want at this hour? I didn’t recognize the number and picked up, maybe it was a real emergency, I thought foolishly. No, it was Candy.
“You have my keys and my phone and my laptop in your car!” She cried.
“I don’t care, it’s late. Call me tomorrow. I’m in bed.”
I was really upset at the combination of being ditched when she knew I’d have to be summoned in the middle of the night. Perhaps I was more upset than I am used to being, but I was not about to get dressed and drive out to deliver her things. I was in for the night.
The phone rang again. I was livid.
“I told you that I’ll give you your shit tomorrow. Goodbye.”
Still lying naked on the bed, on top of the covers, listening to the stories of ancient Greek battles, I fell half asleep. But before my head fell to the mattress, the door kicked open: Candy. She walked in resolutely and started sifting through my clothes, taking the car keys from my pants. Her new photographer boyfriend came in behind her. I told her to “fuck off” and get out of my room. She did, with the keys, but not before her new friend suggested that the three of us all get naked and have a good time together.
Pissed off, though strangely flattered by the offer, I called 911. 911 is very complicated when you are in a situation and have a cell phone. I think it’s a better thing for when you have all your information written down and have a lot of time to talk to the police. It’s the kind of thing that you can do much after a crime is committed, but not during a crime. The police wanted my address. I can’t even pronounce the name of the stupid highway in Hawaii Kai. It has to be 240 syllables.
“This is a waste of time, isn’t it?” I challenged the dispatcher and then hung up.
When the boyfriend had left the room, I donned a towel and walked outside to see what Candy was doing. It looked like she was only taking her things from my car and I demanded the keys back. I was glad I went, she had already lost them. They turned up under the seat and keys in one hand and towel in the other; I retreated back to my room. There was nothing to say to her.
The next day was a new day. I wasn’t sure what to do about Candy, but my usual method is just to forgive and forget. Honestly, there is no way to forget a Candy story and anyone who knows one can tell you how memorable they are. I forgive, and pretend to forget. I think she pretends to forget too if she doesn’t rather delude herself into a completely different version of a story that defies the eyewitness testimony of over a dozen people complete with pictures on facebook.
Oh, I forgot about facebook. I checked it to see if there were new pictures of me after a gathering from a few nights earlier. The pictures were there and I thought about one of the new friends in the group that I happened to have sat next to; Nicole. She had mentioned that evening that she had also met Candy on a previous occasion. “Small island.” I thought.
Nicole was a tall slender long-legged thing that would likely steal eyes from Candy even at her craziest. It’s hard to plumb the depths of Candy’s mind but I suspect that she felt threatened by Nicole, having made such a good impression on so many of her friends at once. Reminded of her, I called her to see if she had a good time and if she’d heard from anyone else in the group. She said that she had only heard from Candy. She said she only laughed at the time, but that Candy had told her that she and I were still and item and considering a very serious relationship, adding that Nicole should not consider being my friend until I keep my promises to her.
“Very funny.” I thought, not thinking it was funny at all.
I started to wonder about other near-miss relationships I’d had where Candy eventually met the person and eventually they cooled off to me. Then I thought back further and thought about how I was married when I met Candy. I started to wonder if Candy was the difference between my being married and being divorced. I quickly dashed off a couple of emails to the ex. I’ll be old before those get answered, but at least that is out of the way.
With some kind words and a humble disposition I asked Michelle if she could help to smooth any strangeness that might have arisen for Nicole, which she did most willingly and expertly. Nicole returned a call to me and apologised for any suspicions that Candy may have raised in her. I apologised for Candy in general, explaining that this new development was going to be very hard on my friendship with her. Nicole suggested forgiveness. I laughed.
“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned / Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” Recited itself in my head.
Candy couldn’t be finished with her malice, I thought. I checked facebook again for nasty posts, unfriending or the trappings of the familiar rage that I had seen her unleash on others when she felt the least bit slighted. She called at about 2pm on the following Tuesday. I just let it ring and a message was left. When I got around to listening to the contents it was a threat by some guy, who I presume is her boyfriend. He said that I was “not a friend” for having ditched Candy at the polo match and that if he ever saw me…
I called Candy back to ask how this message came to be. Her boyfriend answered and started into a tirade. “Friend!” I exclaimed, “Your quarrel is not with me, but with Candy. I took Candy to polo yesterday and she became smitten with a photographer. She walked to the beach with him. I waited until the band finished playing and they turned out the lights. No Candy. I had to leave.”
There was silence on the other end. Then I heard Candy grab the phone. She screamed that I left her and she could have been killed, presumably all for her boyfriend’s ears. After a minute or two of screaming, she hung up the phone. I thought it should be me hanging up on her, since she was screaming and I was just listening, but the rules don’t work the same with Candy.
As with the Candy stories of old to this very last chapter, I have no way to know if Candy believes her versions of the story or tells different versions to save face. I think that perhaps she believes that her versions are true. I don’t know for sure and I expect that I never will. That is the nature of Candy. With little left to bind me to her, I concluded my relationship with Candy by unfriending her on facebook. For me, this is the final story of Candy.