Did Our Romance Fall Victim to Society’s Mores?
By Larry Kahaner
Dear Hula Dancer on my Dashboard:
I remember fondly the moment we met in the souvenir shop at the beach. Me, making believe that I was perusing key chains and bicycle license plates searching for my name. And you, swaying atop the cashier’s desk after some kid flicked you with his grimy finger forcing you to dance. You kept your smile, but I could sense your humiliation at being manhandled for someone’s prurient urges.
I knew that I had to help you escape that horrible place, to protect you from the crude advances of men who only wanted you for one thing.
I have never regretted my decision, not even for a second. Oh, the fun times we had. Driving cross-country in my subcompact car. Remember that time in Montana when we promised each other…
We had a relationship that didn’t know prejudice, only love. We would drive down the street proud of being who we were, not paying attention to the tsk-tsks of those who didn’t understand what was in our hearts or in your hips. We came from two different worlds, but we loved each other and didn’t care who knew it.
We’ve been through a lot of rough times over the years. Remember when I placed you in the middle of the forklift steering wheel so we could be together all work day. My boss called you a distraction. Imagine. The love of my life, a safety hazard. I was given a choice to either remove you or lose my job. I looked, as I often do, to our wedding day: “Let no one tear them asunder,” the justice-of-the-peace said. I took those words to heart and I know, my darling Hula dancer, that you do, too. I found another job and we were free to be husband and plastic-thingie-on-a-spring-with-a-suction-cup.
And remember that time when hooligans broke the driver’s side window and kidnapped you (along with a pen, tire gauge and a pine tree air freshener)? The police laughed when I filed a report, but I scoured the streets and alleys until I found you. Was shooting to death those three boys an overreaction? I don’t think so.
But now, the world has changed, my darling. That face I fell in love with is no longer… how should I put it, ‘accepted’ in today’s social circles. It seems crazy, I know. We’ve always been honest with each other and now is not the time to beat around the grass skirt. Your face is not Hawaiian. It is Caucasian and the forces against cultural appropriation in today’s society are too much for me to bear. (Somebody said it’s because you’re ‘vintage,’ but your religion never mattered to me.) Your eyes are like the stars but, alas, they are blue.
This may be the biggest mistake of my life, but we must part. Even though nobody can ever take your place, Amazon sells culturally-accurate Hula dolls with Polynesian faces and everything. I will miss you, but I’ll be okay.
I worry for you, though. Where will you go; what will you do? Is there a shiny, Armor-Alled dashboard for someone like you in today’s crazy, mixed-up world? I will think about you every time I make a sharp left turn or drive over a bumpy road.
You will forever jiggle in my heart,
Stan with the canary yellow Yaris.
Larry Kahaner has been a serious writer and journalist for decades. Now, he’s not — serious, that is.