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"Aloha! Aloha!" Dino waved, blinking into the morningâ€™s bright glare as he spotted his friends standing in front of a row of tiny, fake grass shacks, with pristine thatched roofs. The shack with the emerald green signs marked National Car Rental, their designated meeting place. Theyâ€™d all arrived!
He was madly pleased to see everybody had made it. He was already in tropical idyll mode thanks to the lei greeting heâ€™d received at his arrival gate via his package deal through Pleasant Holidays. The fact that one now had to pay an extra twenty-five dollars for the traditional Hawaiian welcome didnâ€™t bother him too much.
What did bother him was that he hadnâ€™t spotted a single hot guy on the plane and now none of his friends seemed very happy or excited to see him. As he dragged his suitcase on wheels across the sweltering parking lot, nobody moved a muscle or returned his cheery greeting.
"Can you believe we were having drinks in Los Angeles last night and here we are two thousand miles away...together again at lunchtime?" he called out.
Nobody said a word. Dino Perez didnâ€™t think a thing like flying safely from one place to another was small potatoes this day and age. To him, it was nothing short of miraculous. This trip is meant to be!
His friends stood in a small semicircle, preoccupied with apparent mini-dramas, judging by their long faces. His heart sank.
"Thereâ€™s a line." Jay pointed. His tone suggested it was the end of the world.
Dino shrugged and dug into his laptop bag for his sunglasses. Man, it was hot. He couldnâ€™t remember Oahu ever being this humid. What the hell had happened to the islandâ€™s gently wafting trade winds? It was spring. It was supposed to be perfect temperatures. Not stifling. He glanced around him. Construction going on everywhere. More and more cars were jammed into the gigantic multi-car rental agency lot at Honolulu Airport than heâ€™d ever seen. More and more office buildings blocking out the wind...and the perennial palm trees.
The classic line from Joni Mitchellâ€™s Big Yellow Taxi reverberated in his mind...
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot...
Gone were the days when half-clad men and women rowed to visiting ships in small canoes, brandishing sweet-smelling leis and the promise of so much more.
Ah...those must have been fine, glorious times. Nowadays you clicked a link for the privilege of a factory-produced, scentless, cheerless greeting.
Stop it. Youâ€™re here. Your heartâ€™s home.
Dino eyed his three friends as they all glowered in the stifling heat. FlÃ via, his forty-year-old friend who dreamt of being a cougar, was going to be his roommate. She wore jeans and a T-shirt, which surprised but delighted him. She always wore suits and heels back home. He hoped sheâ€™d left every last strand of pearls she owned with them. She was very cool towards him. Oh, great. This is a spiffing start to our holiday.