Catty commotion strikes during a quiet week
A Prairie Home Competition
IT'S BEEN A QUIET WEEK in Kahala, my hometown, lying yonder over Diamond Head from Waikiki. At least the tradewinds have been quiet, making October unusually voggy and warm. Warm, that is, outside the air-conditioned, upscale homes in Kahala.
But in the 1920s beachfront home of fourth-generation kamaaina Angus McDougald, air conditioning is disdained. Angus, having lived most of his nearly 60 years in the increasingly anomalous abode that his grandfather built, prefers a daytime floor fan and open windows so he can hear the crashing surf at night.
Gaylord Wilcox's entry was the second-place winner in the Star-Bulletin's "Prairie Home" essay contest.|
BUT ON another front, it's not been such a quiet week. Next door to Angus, newly arrived Shanghai herbal magnate Wan Fun Bun is evidently planning to turn her four-acre property into a cat sanctuary. This revelation was brought to light on Monday evening's newscast by TV3's award winning investigative reporter Angel Furtado, who is the tenant in Angus' cottage.
In Angel's exclusive interview, Madam Bun (as Angel and Angus have come to call her), in slinky silk and looking like Suzy Wong, told her peasant-to-capitalist life story. With a large Siamese nestled in her lap, she mentioned "my hope for a sanctuary for the dear homeless Diamond Head stray cats." At that moment the earthquake struck, and the Siamese suddenly bolted out of her arms and scooted for the beach. Angus was taking his Great Dane Ilio Nui for his morning walk at the time, and Nui also took off down the beach. The respective owners set off in futile pursuit.
Thus two neighbors met (Angus hadn't known the neighbor on his other side since 1985 when old Mrs. Kai had passed away, leading to a succession of new houses and owners).
By the afternoon the animals had not returned, and when Angel phoned in from Hawaiian Electric headquarters to report that electricity was out until midnight, Angus invited the distraught Madam Bun for dinner.
It was the same meal he had every Sunday night -- teriyaki steak cooked over the hibachi and salad, forgoing the white rice under the circumstances. Angus decided to break out the Christmas candle rather than fire up the Coleman. The lanky, lifelong bachelor and the petite bachelorette commiserated over their pets and found they were both tai chi practitioners. But the night was cut short just as the first bottle of chardonnay was emptied when the Siamese came bounding into Madam Bun's lap, followed by Nui, ambling over to his master and looking for the usual slab of teriyaki.
On Tuesday morning when Angus paddled out to Diamond Head on his single-fin Hobie, the dawn patrol gang was gabbier than normal, wanting to know if he had seen the news last night and what he knew about the Chinese cat lady. Angus was pleasantly surprised to learn that there were quite a few cat owners amongst his surfing buddies, and let his opinion be known that if Madam Bun wanted to have a bunch of cats on her property that was her right. He and Nui would welcome them into the neighborhood.
BUT AT the Community Association Executive Committee meeting called immediately by President Amanda Fitzhugh, the tone was less neighborly, and they agreed to seek a meeting with Madam Bun to ask her intentions and remind her about certain covenants in her deed. Amanda was Angus' longtime nemesis, always threatening action when she happened upon leashless Nui on the beach. Gentle Nui, who always obeyed his master, and never barked, growled or left anything smelly on the beach.
So when Madam Bun told Angus that Amanda was coming to meet Saturday morning to talk about cats, Angus felt called to action and phoned the dawn patrol. Out of loyalty to their surf brother and with surf predictions flat to a foot, all agreed they would show up to support cats' rights. Angus then called Angel, who thought this story could be another award winner.
Madam Bun was a little unsure about Angus' plan to, as he put it, "surprise Amanda and her fellow busybodies," but agreed nevertheless. Six of the dawn patrol showed up -- Mits with his cat and two with placards reading "Feline Freedom" and "Pussy Power." When the support cat and the Siamese got into a hissing row, Madam Bun was visibly irritated, and Angus politely told Mits it was best he left.
Just when the committee arrived, Amanda and Angus started a shouting match, the dawn patrol chanted "cats no ka oi" and Angel belted out "live from Kahala" as she tried to commentate above the ruckus. Suddenly a loud gong rang out -- it was Madam Bun putting to good use her decorative ancient instrument -- and silence reigned. Madam Bun announced that her Siamese preferred being an only cat, Nui would be a suitable companion, she would be planting herbs on two acres of her property, and everyone was invited to come in for some tea and dim sum.
And that's the news from Kahala, where the women are strong, the men are looking good, and the pets are above average.