Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Hawaiian Bumble Bee

To Bee or not to be?

One of the most vivid memories I have of Hawaii is of a huge, black bulbous bumble bee floating menacingly over my head while I listened to band playing a concert in the park.

The Royal Hawaiian Band was dressed in Gilbert & Sullivan Military cut white uniforms. Each musician sported a red Hibiscus the size of a dinner plate in the button hole of a starched lapel. The eyes of every musician locked on the conductor as he dramatically pumped his arms. Each player wore a brilliant white pith-helmet. The conductor's helmet sported a golden badge that flashed under the tropical sun. Like a marionette, the conductor stood ramrod strait, arms raised, head and hands twitching and flicking. He jerked out his connections to Souza. The conductor was high above the lazy crowd on an elevated bandstand. The lawns of the park were fresh cut, you could taste the green tang with each breath. The faint perfume of flowers was a base beat on the air.

A Polo game clacked in the background. The riders far enough away that the sound of their ponies' hooves was lost in the marching boom of Souza's tuba and trumpet chorus.

The crowd was slow and appreciative. They lay scattered about the lawns, lounging on a checkerboard of picnic blankets, sipping cool drinks and enjoying a slow lunch. The white band played on enthusiastically, Sousa's vigorous marches, a contrast with the "one, two, three days I be there" mentality of the islands. We had picnic lunched and cool drinks as the band played on.

The bee carried on buzzing through the crowd. A ripple ran through the field. The bee was huge easily as large as a small child's fist. It seemed impossible that the frantic, high rev thrumming of its tiny wings could keep that bloated body afloat. The insect staggered through the air in ridiculous counter point to the banging drums and blaring trumpet of the band.

Panicked people swiped at it with seat cushions and sun hats. The buzzing black-bomb rode the air unsteadily, banking and swooping and swooping and banking. Diamond Head was eroding quietly in the background.

A sunburned mainland matron tented in a flowered MU-MU finally connected with a folder newspaper. The bee shot in a solid line drive straight at the band conductor. The bumble bee stuck him in the neck like a well aimed dart. His mechanical interpretation of Sousa became manic. But kept tempo, and ended with a properly choreographed clash of symbols & brass.

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