No More Trouble in Paradise or…To Marry or Not to Marry, that is the Question

The North Shore of Kauai has always held deep meaning for me. It was where I escaped on my first adventure as a newly single woman raising three kids alone. That was nearly twenty years ago. (And it was where, in the early 70’s, I filmed a Lipton Tea commercial — another blog, another time). I was suddenly thrust into single life just as my dad-the-sage had long predicted during the twelve years I spent with Father of My Children.
Our blissful wedding, almost nine years earlier to the day that I was to leave on my Hawaiian adventure, was held on Pico Boulevard in the parking lot of Rent-a-Wreck. Talk about an ominous sign (See blissful wedding day photo.) During the ceremony, various people and probably even my own dad were loudly laying odds the marriage would never last. After the split, I found out no one present gave it more than six months.
On the fateful morning of the Big Reveal (I picked up a phone extension to hear F.O.M.C. listening to The Other Woman reciting love poetry, (GAG) ), I called my dad to tell him that he was right about Mr. Right. He barely reacted. He then informed me that my eternal student/out-of-work husband had once hidden 18 thousand dollars in dad’s bank account and had obviously forgotten about it. My dad told me to help myself to the money.
Eighteen thousand dollars sounded pretty good since it was eighteen thousand more than I had at the time, but I only took nine, choosing to split it with F.O.M.C. So young, so honest, so foolish! Now, with nine thousand in hand, I decided that my kids and I needed ten days in Kauai to recover from a broken marriage. Anything left over would go toward the down payment on a new car. (Yes, this was back when there might be something left from $9,000 after a Hawaiian vacation.) Things were looking up already. I called in a favor from my friend Sherry, whose family owned a hotel on the island. $60 dollars a night, not bad.
I never told my kids that we were going away because I love to surprise them. The night before we were to leave, I waited till they were asleep to pack their bags. Then at 6:00 AM, I woke them to announce we were heading to paradise. It was thrilling.
I brought my gourmet meal to eat on the plane. I was way ahead of my time in doing that. And I’m not exaggerating when I say gourmet. (On a recent flight, I brought caviar and the woman next to me said, “You really travel in style”. The snack cost nearly as much as the coach ticket.) But I let my kids eat the airplane food, since I figured it was okay with them. Airline meals were so lousy they really did us all a favor to end them.
To land on the island of Kauai is like encountering a mirage. Five hours of flying, then you touch down, stepping into beauty and wonder and fragrances so magical they can’t be real. At this point, you’re probably hungry, and if you’re headed where we usually are — the North Shore– you stop at Ono Burger. It’s a not-so-fast-food stand on the ocean side of the road next to a mini-mart, and it’s really good. All the locals go there and you can’t go wrong with whatever you order. And if you do go wrong, who cares? You’re in Hawaii. You sit and eat at a picnic table surrounded by wild chickens and feral cats, and feed them. Everybody does.
On that trip I took my kids on a sunset cruise adventure — obviously suffering a memory lapse about my history of seasickness. The captain of the boat fell instantly in love with me, I’m not sure why, but it probably had something to do with certain men being hardwired to take care of women. I’m extra-small and some men just have a visceral reaction to protect me. (Others step on me – see F.O.M.C.) The attention from Cap’n Jack did a lot for a girl who’d just fled a loveless marriage. But all the Good Captain got in return was vomit on his shoes. Finally, he told me that I needed to jump overboard. At first, I thought he was kidding, but he said it would steady my equilibrium or something and at that point I would have done anything for relief. I jumped. My kids stared as I treaded water, as surprised as the curious sea turtles circling me.
Cap’n Jack, flirt or nurturer that he was, dove in and stuck it out with me. He had his hands all over me, whispering sexy things in my ear. He completely ignored the other guests on the cruise, which was great for my ego but not so great for them. It occurred to me that he might be a bit of a gigolo who thought I was a rich young woman traveling with a babysitter, as I was. Well, then too bad for him. I had just spent my last nine thousand. But for a fleeting moment, I imagined moving to Kauai and a happy-ever-after life as a sea captain’s wife. As you can see, I was clearly starved for attention.
Some nights I would take the kids to Lafferty’s, the amazing local ice cream store. If you go, get the Kona Coffee. But all the flavors are great. It was there, in a bit of foreshadowing of my soon-to-be future life, that I spotted an unusual Rastafarian-looking dog… that I became, not out of character for me, quite taken with. The owner said it was a Portuguese Water Dog. He was chocolate in color and a spectacular-looking creature.
Soon after the well-deserved Kauai vacation with my kids I went on my first date with my future husband. No, he was not a Rastafarian. But he did have a Portuguese Water Dog. That dog, Moby, would also become my dog. Everything fell into place.
In 1992, Hurricane Iniki, a Category 4, swept away the hotel that my kids and I had stayed in. But I would take them on many more vacations to the North Shore of Kauai. On one trip, years later, we traveled with Augie’s then-boyfriend Luke, a true hunter/gatherer. He speared fish and cooked them for dinner. He cut platters of fresh island fruit for us to wake up to each day. And he took my son Barnaby swimming on the backs of sea turtles, maybe some of the very same ones who swam with his seasick mom years before. Once, Luke made me my favorite dish from the Hanalei Dolphin restaurant — stuffed mushrooms, mushroom caps filled with garlic, bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.
When you stay on the North Shore life becomes very Groundhog Day — you tend to do the same thing over and over again, daily. And most nights we end up at the Dolphin. The seafood is fresh and amazing. They also have a small seafood market around back that’s open till around 7:00 every evening. At the table, your waiter will describe the qualities of the ono, mahi-mahi, or whatever fish is being offered that day, as buttery, flakey, firm or mild-flavored. And he will inform you of the House Specialty: Teriyaki Ahi. The tuna is not overly Teriyaki’d, but marinated in their homemade sauce, then charbroiled and served with drawn butter. You dunk and eat, like you would lobster. They also serve a chilled bowl salad that is incredibly retro. In fact, the whole vibe of the restaurant is really a throwback. I articulated it to my friend Cathy and we said it at the same time: It’s like going to Chart House on Pacific Coast Highway in the early 70’s – even down to the “no reservations” policy. I don’t have the patience to wait an hour at Dolphin, so I just go very early. The sushi chef from Sushi Blues, our former favorite sushi bar in Hanalei, now closed, is currently working at the Dolphin’s small sushi bar. Everything there is so good and fresh you don’t even need to look at the menu. Ask Jeff, and he will make you his specials of the day.
I just came back from an amazing Kauai vacation with my husband. We stayed at the Princeville, now a St. Regis hotel. Still lovely, but thanks to the cheapskates at corporate, the lavish breakfast buffet is gone. While there, I noticed a bride rehearsing for her on-the-beach ceremony, and I thought of my daughter, Augie, who has been planning her July 17th wedding for months. Her fantasy wedding also was to be on the sand at sunset. Unfortunately, her actual ceremony on a balcony at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica, would be overlooking the sand, and for reasons of cost be held closer to sunrise than sunset. But now that’s all moot. A day ago, she texted everyone on her invite-list to say that they are postponing. They want to wait. So wise. Yet, if I had done that there would probably be no Augie.
I am very proud of my daughter’s decision and my hope for her is to one day have her dream wedding. One day when she’s just a little older. And maybe it will be on a beach at sunset in Kauai.

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11 Responses to “No More Trouble in Paradise or…To Marry or Not to Marry, that is the Question”

  1. Kellie Davies says:

    Hi Freddie: I have to say you are a talented writer. Really enjoyed reading this and, even though there were some negative aspects, you were able to find the positive spin on it. That’s the kind of writing and living that I relate too.
    You’ve always been incredibly special Freddie, and you still are. Your children are lucky that they have you for a mom; whether they realize it or not. One of the things I always loved about you, was you were always Freddie. Alan was the same way. You guys are who you are and, “oh well” if others don’t get it. You and Alan have always stayed true to yourselves and I admire that so much. I could always count on sincerity from you both. I don’t need to spend a lot of time with people to “feel” who they are. I’ve always been very intuitive and see it as a great gift. My intuition back then told me you were special, and it would take an extraordinary man to be in your life. He would have to be someone who loved you for who you are, and give you the freedom to be you……..sounds like you’ve got the right guy in your life.
    Am I right?
    Anyway, loved the story; very well written, and can’t wait to see you. xxoo

  2. jennifer green says:

    I love you and your storytelling so much!

  3. pauli moss says:

    Wow – from the heart and the hip! Such an interesting read – would love to know more about how and where you met hubby #2. Great to know the St. Regis doesn’t do the buffet breakfast anymore…hope someone complains. Keep writing and eating of course. xoxo

  4. Cristi says:

    Fredde – So proud of you and your daughter. So tough at a young age to make a decision to WAIT!! You and I both know that, especially after a long term relationship. C’est La Vie.

    So on – Love Ono’s, Love the North Shore, Love Princeville, not sure I can do St. Regis!!!

    Love everything you write!! Love everything you eat!

    Love you as a child, love you now as an adult, a mother And a friend for life AND FOR EVER.

    Love you girl and keep it up!!!! Never Stop!

  5. janet graham says:

    great read fredde. love that you spent that 9 grand on a trip to hawaii. that shows real panache, genuinely characteristic of you and why i love you so much.

  6. Dianne Davis says:

    Great story telling Fredde! Sounds like our first marriages were somewhat similar. My x’s mother said to my mother before they even met that she didn’t think that our marriage would last more than 6 months. We actually went 28 years, but looking back I think that I probably should have listened to her prediction. Hugs, Dianne

  7. toni miller says:

    I look forward to these snippets from you life. I love the way you tie it all together. Really quite thrilling to read. Your writing is filled with the humor that is only available years after the fact and the poignance that comes as you look back and remember those days… really beautiful!

  8. Lauren Haas says:

    Great entry!
    Do you remember the day that Augie and I fell in LOVE with each other in Hanalei Backroom. It went a little something like this:

    Augie : Hi. You dress cute. Do you think this looks good on me?

    Me : OMG. SO cute. Hey, by the way, where are you from?

    Augie : LA.

    Me : ME TOO! OMG, let’s be friends. I know a whole bunch of cute boys on the island…. I’ve been coming for years…

    And the love affair was in FULL FORCE!

    I, too, am happy that Augie decided to wait. SMART CHICK you RAISED.


  9. Janet Petkin says:

    So touching. you write well.

  10. Carol Dudley says:

    How did I miss this one. Long ago – when the Transpac does the Oahu to Kauai race – (not much of a race) EDP, and I and a few others went – and Mere insisted that Betty Go with us – I loved Hanalei and am sorry to hear its gone – it was so beautiful – only remember a post office and a sears – BUT – the best was all the guys we knew played cards with Betty almost the entire trip – still is the most beautiful island – xxooc

  11. Linda says:

    Lafferty’s … ah yes, great ice cream! And Portuguese Water Dogs.are so cute …. I could go o and on, love all your seafood … and seasick … imagery! Mahalo for the memories.

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