High-Heel Blowout (A Maui Valentine’s Day Story)

If you move to Maui and try to bring your mainland lifestyle with you, you are in for a rude surprise. Nothing translates the same in Maui: not your job, not the money you’re used to making. Not your level of cleanliness—whether personal (three showers a day are the norm in Maui) or in your living space — wind, red dirt off the fields, and the persistent mold will see to that.

And then there are the other unexpected things, like your underwear rotting out in the blink of an eye, and the High-Heel Blowout. On Valentine’s Day, this year, for me.

You see, things rot here. Don’t ask me why. I grew up in the Midwest where the humidity could suck the life out of you in the summer, and we never had this problem. All I can think is that the ten feet of snow in the winter there kills off the mold so it never gains a permanent foothold.

Not so in Maui.

My friend Rita was a former New York model who moved to Maui with a whole cache of expensive La Perla underwear. One day she took what should have been a teeny, tiny pair of bikinis out of her drawer, and to her horror, found that when she held them up, they were about a foot wide. The elastic had rotted and stretched them out enough to fit a football player with the UH Rainbow Warriors.

All my underwear did the same thing, the difference was, mine hadn’t cost a hundred dollars apiece. Still, you get attached, and I was, and I mourned that underwear, especially when I realized I couldn’t even replace it on Maui. I had to fly to the Mainland to get new underwear! (Actually I went to visit Mom, but believe me, I stocked up on my favorite brand of underwear.) And don’t even get me started on how long an $80.00 swimsuit will last here, which is about two minutes longer than the underwear. You don’t even have to take it out of your drawer, or ever get in the water. It just magically disintegrates, right there in your dresser drawer.

So all of you guys out there…do you like shiny things, like cars? Expensive toys? Electronics, photography equipment? Better lock it all in a vault, and kiss that shiny car goodbye, because the red dirt in Maui will own you. Between that and the humidity, you can spend the rest of your life trying to protect things from damage and keep things clean. First piece of advice I got in Maui?  “You will spend your life cleaning.”

Ha! I’m gonna spend my life at the beach, sister.

Right. That worked out well. Tourists who visit Maui have no idea, because they check into a hotel room that has been cleaned by a professional Maui hotel housekeeper, whose main objective in life is to make you believe that red dirt does not exist, so you will bring your tourist dollars right back here next year. So she shines and sweeps and wipes down every inch of the lanai furniture so you can sit out there in your nice white shorts. There’s a reason why you don’t see white shorts on locals.

Red dirt+wind+humidity=mold. Commit this to memory.

So where was I? Oh, right: Valentine’s Day. I pulled out my red high heels to wear to the restaurant. Haven’t had them on in a year, of course. Slipped them on, took two steps from the closet and almost fell flat on my face. The straps had started the rotting process and had stretched out so much they wouldn’t stay on my feet. This is not the first time this has happened. There was the unfortunate Upcountry farmer’s market incident with a pair of clogs, where I was just walking along minding my own business and my entire shoe collapsed like a mini atomic mushroom cloud. I had no other shoes with me. Now, I’m wiser, I’m a local, and there’s always a spare pair in the car.

The next incident was rather more embarrassing and significantly more important. I was at the Maui Writer’s Conference (I’m a writer other than this blog–we’ll talk more about that another time) and it was my turn to get up in front of an auditorium full of people and give my presentation. I got out of my seat, made my way up front, and… Pow! Blowout. My cute little kitten-heel black sandals had chosen this moment to succumb to the Maui humidity curse. I stumbled, my ankle twisted, I turned all shades of red. After I’d righted myself, I galumped up to the podium, one shoe on and one shoe off, pretending that nothing had happened. Because everyone in that audience was from the Mainland, and who would believe that my heel had just rotted off, simply from living in Paradise?

It’s just a darned good thing my underwear didn’t choose to give out at the exact same moment.

Aloha till next time, and hope you had a Happy Valentine’s Day.

P.S. These were NOT my black kitten heels, but they’re cute, don’t you think?

Copyright Jamaica Michaels, 2012. All rights reserved. May not be reblogged or reprinted without express written permission of the author.

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