This arti­cle is part 5 of 9 in the series The Maui Condiments

As it was now evening, I wan­dered into the court­yard of the hotel and head­ed for the restau­rant.  It was already becom­ing crowd­ed, with many tables on the veran­da also filled.

I sup­pose it was a bit unusu­al for a sin­gle indi­vid­ual to be seek­ing seat­ing at din­ner as vir­tu­al­ly all the hotel guests were either cou­ples or fam­i­lies.  But here I was, wait­ing to be seat­ed by the recep­tion­ist and scan­ning the room for a famil­iar face.

The recep­tion­ist, a matron­ly but pleas­ant-look­ing lady asked if I would pre­fer to be seat­ed by myself or with oth­ers.  Realizing that being seat­ed with oth­er peo­ple would offer me some cov­er as I sur­veyed the room I told her that I would pre­fer seat­ing with oth­ers if she could find some­one will­ing to accom­mo­date a stranger at their table.

I wait­ed as she approached a cou­ple some dis­tance into the din­ing room and appar­ent­ly inquired of them if they would mind allow­ing some­one to sit with them.  I saw them look in my direc­tion and nod affir­ma­tive­ly to the recep­tion­ist who laid the menu she was car­ry­ing on the table and head­ed back toward me.

Approaching, she smiled and said, “The cou­ple at that table said they would be hap­py to have you as a din­ner com­pan­ion,” and she left me to find my way to the table.

“Good evening,” I said, arriv­ing at the table where a mid­dle-aged cou­ple was await­ing with friend­ly smiles.  “I’m Michael Tate.  I appre­ci­ate you allow­ing me to dine with you.  I’m here on my own and it is so much more pleas­ant to have a friend­ly con­ver­sa­tion dur­ing din­ner than to be by oneself.”

“Happy to have you join us,” was the reply from the gen­tle­man there as he rose and extend­ed his hand in greet­ing.  “I’m Bill Jordan and this is my wife, Goldie. Please. Be seated.”

Since the two of them were sit­ting oppo­site one anoth­er, I set­tled into the chair next to Goldie and began the conversation.

“Where are you from?” I inquired.  “I assume you’re vis­it­ing the islands as am I.”

“Yes,” respond­ed Bill.  “We’re from Oregon.  Medford.  Just north of the California bor­der. You?”

“I’m from a small town in Kentucky called Winchester.  It’s just east of Lexington in cen­tral Kentucky.  Have you been here long?”

“Just a cou­ple of days,” chimed in Goldie.  “It’s real­ly beau­ti­ful here.  We’ve been to the islands sev­er­al times before but this is the first time we’ve stayed here.”

“This is my first time on the island and I just arrived today.  I’m quite impressed with the hotel.  It seems to have every­thing one needs for a pleas­ant stay,” I said as I scanned the menu.

“I think I’ll have a glass of wine before din­ner.  I’d be pleased if you’d let me buy each of you a glass for let­ting me join you. Have you ordered din­ner yet?”

“No,” said Bill.  “There are so many inter­est­ing selec­tions we haven’t been able to decide yet on what we want.  And you don’t owe us any­thing for offer­ing to share our table, but we’ll accept your kind offer if you promise to let us buy the next round.”

“Done,” I replied, and waved the wait­er over to order a glass of plum wine for myself while Bill ordered two glass­es of Chardonnay for him­self and Goldie.

Our con­ver­sa­tion con­tin­ued in a light vein as we enjoyed our wine and even­tu­al­ly ordered din­ner.  As we ate and talked, I con­tin­ued to scan the room as sur­rep­ti­tious­ly as I could with­out mak­ing my hosts think I was more inter­est­ed in my sur­round­ings than in them.

After din­ner, we all shared in a bot­tle of Pinot Noir and lis­tened to a local band play­ing Hawaiian music as the sun threw a gold­en shaft of light across the ocean and twi­light turned to night. The gen­tly mov­ing palm trees became wispy shad­ows against a night sky lit by a half-moon.

The set­ting was so calm and peace­ful that it was pos­si­ble for me to for­get, just for a moment, why I was here in this love­ly place.

I thanked my hosts for a love­ly din­ner and we part­ed, vow­ing that we would see one anoth­er again before our stays were com­plet­ed and I set off to wan­der the grounds for a while.  I passed the shops locat­ed with­in the hotel, all now closed for the evening except the sun­dries shop where one could pur­chase liquor, toi­letries, snacks, sou­venirs, and numer­ous oth­er items.

I select­ed a small con­tain­er of mango/pineapple juice and a crois­sant break­fast sand­wich which I planned to have in the morn­ing.  Coffee was pro­vid­ed in the room along with a cof­fee mak­er so a small break­fast for tomor­row was in the offing.

L.T. had informed me that Herschel always reserved an exec­u­tive suite when he stayed at the Shores.  Those were on the ninth floor, one floor above me, so I decid­ed to punch in “nine” when I entered the ele­va­tor so that I could check out that floor briefly.

If some­one ques­tioned me — which seemed unlike­ly — I would sim­ply say that I had prob­a­bly had too much wine with din­ner and had acci­den­tal­ly punched in a nine instead of an eight.

No harm, no foul.  At least that was my hope.

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.

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