When I was a kid, my family went to Hawaii for a vacation.
Everyone who knows my family already knows which story is coming.
One day, we went for a hike on the Napali Coast, a trail that starts and ends at beaches, because Kauai. Someone somewhere had said it was a great trail for kids – my brother couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 at the time – but once we were on it, I distinctly remember thinking, “Huh, this is kind of precarious. And steep. And precarious and steep. Wow, there sure are a lot of rocks and mud; I wouldn’t want to be here when it rains!” But it was a beautiful trail through the forest, with birds singing and an embarrassment of ferns and general tropical overabundance, so nobody was too worried.
I can’t say for certain whether the beach we got to was any good. I mean, it was probably great, but mostly I remember being cold. On our honeymoon we accidentally took a boat ride past the beach, and it looked like it was a fake backdrop for a movie set in paradise, so I’m going to assume I was busy being an annoyed tween and rolling my eyes a lot.
Eventually, we were idly talking about wrapping it up and heading back, noticing that those clouds in the distance looked foreboding. It might rain this evening!
That’s when we realized exactly how fast a storm can move on ocean winds.
At least we were already in our swimsuits, so getting instantly drenched to the skin was… less sticky? I’m not actually sure if it was any better than regular clothes, to be honest. There’s a point when wetness supersedes all the other conditions in your life.
Anyway, there we were, shoving our stuff into the backpack as fast as we could, scrambling to get going on the trail. I can’t answer for anyone else, but I was certainly thinking that once that trail turned into mud at least one of us was going over a cliff, and no amount of tropical undergrowth was going to save us.
This is where someone stopped to put on their shoes.
Because we were going to be hiking a trail.
And for that, we wear shoes, because our dainty American feet are soft and rocks are pointy.
“What are you DOING?” yelled my Mom, shoving the last soaking towel into the soaking backpack, “We need to get going!”
“God Mom, calm down, we’re just putting our socks on.” Remember, I was a tween, so I’m sure there was copious attitude.
“WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR SOCKS! LEAVE THE SOCKS!” she yelled, following her own advice and shoving her sandy feet directly into her tennis shoes with a blatant disregard for how she would ever get them clean again.
Now, you should know that my mother is a wonderful woman. She’s sweet and considerate and generally in charge of making sure the rest of us hooligans survive things like clifftop hikes dangling over the Pacific ocean. While the rest of us… are hooligans.
“Leave the socks! Save yourself!!” we yelled, delighted at this new bizarre twist of events.
“Leave the backpack!”
“Leave the towels!”
“Leave the boy!”
“Leave the boy! Save yourselves!” At this point, the three of us were laughing way too hard to get anything done, chanting, “Leave the boy! Save yourselves!” over and over (for the record, the boy in question, my brother, also thought this was hilarious). If memory serves, we actually broke out our video camera (this was in an age before cell phones, boys and girls), and took a dramatic video reenacting my mother’s apparent disregard for the smallest and weakest members of the family in an emergency situation.
Ever since then, “Leave the boy! Save yourselves!” has been our family motto. It never fails to get everyone around the dinner table giggling, even decades later. We all have friends and loved ones who weren’t even there, but who know and love that story.
Leave the boy! Save yourselves!
My mom has a good sense of humor about the whole thing, mostly, admitting that maybe she overreacted a teeeeeeeeny bit. But every year or two she feels compelled to check in with my brother, who is now a grown adult, and make sure he knows that the story isn’t, strictly speaking, true. She never actually suggested that we abandon him on the Napali Coast during a storm. He knows that, right? Right??
For some reason, her earnest worry about my brother’s feelings makes it all even funnier. Probably because we’re bad people.
Except my mom. We don’t deserve her.
Oh, and we did eventually get our socks and shoes on. The rain stopped after we had been on the trail for 5 minutes.