But then I realized it'd probably be just a cheesy tourist trap where a burger cost $40. (While sometimes cheesy tourist trap areas can be fun, it was wearing on my patience and I regretted boarding the bus to Waikiki) Then, I debated going to Kelley O'Neill's, an Irish pub and novelty here in Hawaii. When I got there however, I realized they mostly sold snacks, not real food. Finally, I decided to head back to Duke's when a waitress handed me a coupon. "Want to get a free appetizer?"
Anything free is good.
"Sure!" I replied.
She lead me two feet away to a Mexican restaurant right around the corner from Duke's. I heard another woman's voice behind me. "So, I just go here to use this coupon?" The waitress said yes and told both of us to go straight ahead into the elevator and up to the 3rd floor. The woman said hello to me. She was older, with a friendly smile and silver hair. "Well, if we don't like it, we don't like it right?"
"Right. It's just one meal."
We made small talk in the elevator and when the doors opened, she turned to me. "Do you want to eat with me or would you rather be by yourself?" Truthfully? I would have rather been by myself. Eating with a stranger would have been another step out of my comfort zone, and I frankly didn't feel like leaving it that night. Why I found myself saying "Sure." I don't know. Maybe I needed the company. Before I knew it we had a table for two. At first it was awkward. I didn't know what to say to her, and she didn't know what to say to me. "I'm here for a conference," She began breaking the ice. "It's for a week and a half. What are you here for?" Surprisingly, I often get the question "What are you here for?" As if you need a solid reason to make your way to the islands. I guess very few people just decide to go to Hawaii. "I'm here visiting my aunt." I told her. I rarely say why or how long I'm on the islands to a stranger during a small talk conversation (just in case) but she was okay.
"Really? That's nice. How long a week?"
"WOW! Three MONTHS?" You're really lucky!"
I knew that my opportunity was one few people could afford to do or have the time to do it. I count my blessings for it.
"Where are you from?" I asked her. I just about fell over when she replied "New Jersey." What a small world. "I am too," I told her. From there, we hit it off. She told me where she was from (Monclair about an hour from me), what her name was (Amy) and that she was a doctor. I told her about my Hawaii bucket list and that I was writing my travels down.
"That's amazing! What have you seen?"
I talked about Iolani Palace, Chinatown, and Accessurf.
"I've always just wanted to travel," she said. "I'm taking a few extra days here just to enjoy myself."
I recommended a couple of places to her. As we were eating, games were played by the restaurant staff and patrons. One of them was guessing theme songs. If you won, you won shots. Most of the shows took place when I was really young and I didn't recognize them, (Like "Charles in Charge". What exactly WAS that show about anyway?) and some were just plain before my time. ("Laverne and Shirley") I did guess correctly with Fresh Prince of Bel Air though. Amy decided to take a picture of my prize:
The hat was so tall she couldn't even get all of it.
Eventually, everyone sang and danced. A guy in a wedding dress came out to sing to a newly married couple on their honeymoon and ride around in a shopping cart (yeah, I don't even know). We all applauded.
In the end, I had a great night, and it was a much better night then I would have had if I just ate alone with a book. I wouldn't always recommend it, but it sure worked out. Definitely one of the best nights I've had. The food by the way was awful. Amy agreed. None of that mattered though.