Peter Thomas is a rather amazing man. He has accomplished many rather incredible things in oh so many ways in his life. i have written of some here before. But more than that, our paths crossed back in the mid-1980’s and we have been friends, close friends ever since, even though it is nearly always a brief stop or long distance communication.
Peter is in Honolulu, Oahu, Pearl Harbor actually, doing his thing as a top manager in submarine maintenance. Yesterday, i received an email wondering if i would help him write a book. i, of course, replied in the affirmative, and then asked what kind of book.
Today, he responded to that with no real answer to my question but told me of dining alone and as he wrote “out here in Honolulu living the so called “good life.” “Solo.” His wife Sandra, a rather incredible Scottish lass, is back at their home in Poulsbo, Washington, taking care of business.i wrote him a response, hit “send.” Then i thought i wanted to share my thoughts. Here is a somewhat redacted version of what i sent:
You bring back good memories.
Every time i went to Pearl, i went to Chuck’s Steak House in downtown Honolulu before Chuck’s moved apparently beachward and became “posh.” i, like you,usually was solo. Chuck’s was then located in the middle of a small nondescript street, i think either Seaside Avenue or Duke’s Lane, a couple of blocks inland from what was then the Princess Kaiulani Hotel. i couldn’t locate the spot the last time i was there.
You had to walk down a few steps to enter Chuck’s. There was no view. i’m not even sure they had windows. It was a rather cavernous place with the bar to the left (there is a great story that goes with that bar) and a large party room in the back. The dining area was not fashionable or posh: wood tables and the decor was drooping fishing nets and old fishing floats hanging from the ceiling.
i always ordered a mai tai and then the grilled mahi-mahi with a house salad and baked potato with a glass (or two or three) of chardonnay (this was before i found chardonnay to be too “buttery;” now, it would be viognier). While enjoying my mahi-mahi, i would watch the other diners, always finding some interesting, human, and humorous moments. After dinner, i would have a cup of coffee, black as if there was any other way to drink coffee for a sailor, pull out my spiral notebook or a piece of stationery and write.
i wrote some of my best stuff there. Most, if not all, were letters to Susan Butterfield, one of the most magnificent loves of my life (then; now she’s a happily married Mrs. Brooks and remains a very close friend).
After dinner, i often walked to Waikiki and strolled along the boardwalk looking out at the surf in the warm Hawaiian starlit evening. There was a comfortable emptiness there for me, difficult to adequately describe.
It was a lonely time but also satisfying.
Now, i am not sure i could capture that feeling.
Thanks for letting me remember.
Take care, old friend,