I always knew that at some point DW might figure out that I was taking her to Hawaii, but I had hoped that it wouldn't happen quite this soon. After all, I still have over 6 months' worth of clues to give her!
After an incredibly busy past few days, we finally had some time to catch our breath. I had noticed that a place where we have enjoyed bringing our kids, John's Incredible Pizza, was having a promotion called "IncrediBear's Birthday Luau," so I suggested to DW that we might want to take some of the kids there. Of course, I was thinking of the upcoming cruise to Hawaii, but I didn't think that this would be quite so obvious to DW. It certainly was a less than ideal venue for the big revelation.
If we're going to a "luau," I reasoned, I need to give her a clue that looks Hawaiian. So I found this photo:
Turning over the photo, I wrote this on the back:
"Y? In the middle!
K? On the sides!
A? In between!
U? On top!
I love you, where ever you are!"
I put the photo into a golden envelope along with a puzzle piece. On the front of the envelope, I decided to write "Aloha!"
inside a little golden lei I sketched. "She'll just think that the 'Aloha' relates to John's Incredible Pizza's 'luau,' not to the cruise," I foolishly told myself.
The atmosphere at John's Incredible Pizza was disappointing. No Hawaiian music, just the same old pop music blaring over the speakers. No special decorations that I noticed. They were serving pina colada Icees and Hawaiian pizza -- but we weren't impressed with the Icees and they always serve Hawaiian pizza. The only thing that looked very Hawaiian to me was the restaurant's mascot, IncrediBear, who was wearing a large Hawaiian shirt, and who stood in front of a cardboard cutout picture of a palm tree for photo opportunities.
When I finally sat down to eat, I picked up a piece of Hawaiian pizza and offered DW a bite, saying "let's share something Hawaiian!"
Later, the atmosphere improved slightly when IncrediBear led some kids in dancing to this song:
"Oh we're going to a Hukilau
A huki huki huki huki Hukilau..."
When DW was very young (probably 10-12 years old), she used to dance to the Hukilau song with a couple of her friends, putting on a show for the people at the apartments where they lived. After performing the song, the three girls would dive into the pool together. (I had actually forgotten this Hawaiian connection to DW's childhood until now, but she has often sung the Hukilau song over the years.)
We needed to rush off to get our son (#6) to a church meeting, but before we left I found an opportunity to discretely approach the IncrediBear mascot. "Is there a pocket in that Hawaiian shirt?" I asked.
The bear shook his head, indicating "yes."
Taking out the golden envelope, I said "can I slip this into your pocket? It's something special for my wife." He nodded his assent.
After the envelope clue was safely placed into the large pocket, I sent DW this text: "Congratulations! You have won the grand luau prize! To claim your prize, check Incredibear's Hawaiian shirt pocket!"
Then I went to find DW and the boys, telling them that it was time to leave. DW had previously said that she wanted to get a photo with IncrediBear, so we hurried to the photo area on our way out. I could tell that DW had not noticed her text message, so I came up with some excuse to look at her phone. Then I said "it looks like you have a message"
and handed the phone to her.
After reading the message she said to IncrediBear "do you have something for me?"
IncrediBear responded by leaning toward her and holding out his shirt pocket. She took the envelope out of the mascot's pocket and quickly opened it up. Then her expression quickly changed to that puzzled look I have enjoyed seeing so often when I give her clues.
"I don't understand this clue at all,"
(I mentally congratulated myself, confident that I had succesfully pulled off this clue without giving too much away. But my smug self-satisfaction was short lived.)
Before heading out the door, we took a quick photo with IncrediBear.
Heading to our van, DW turned to me with a huge grin on her face and said "so, when do I get my grand prize?"
"You already got it,"
I responded, "it's the golden envelope."
Not content to settle for that, DW got right to the point of what she was thinking: "are you taking me on a cruise to Hawaii?"
"Why would you think that?"
I responded, making a feeble attempt to play dumb.
"You have been giving me all kinds of Hawaiian clues,"
Obviously I had congratulated myself too soon for my attempt at subtlety.
"I have? Like what?"
I responded, feeling a bit dazed by the sudden realization that she has figured out (almost) all of the surprise.
DW began listing the clues she had received which contributed to her conclusion: "Sharing the Hawaiian pizza with me, the 'Paradise' clue, and all of those palm trees in the photos."
I weakly responded "umm... there are palm trees in a lot of places beside Hawaii. Like our 'Hawaiian Gardens'"
(the nickname for our housing ministry).
I opened up the clear banker's bag where she has been keeping the golden envelopes and began looking though them, honestly asking myself if I had really been so obvious all along. I pulled out this photo of a previous clue and showed it to DW:
I said, pointing to the Mexican flag, "there are palm trees, and there's a Mexican flag. That's not Hawaii."
"What about all of this Hawaiian water you have been buying for me?"
"I told you when I first bought that water that I saw where it said Artesian water,"
I insisted. "You're the one who noticed that it was Hawaiian water."
Not one to give up so easily, DW demanded to know "so why did you insist that we went to this 'luau'?"
"I just thought it would be a nice place to eat. You don't seriously think I convinced John's Pizza to do a luau today?"
DW still refused to give up. "So why did you put 'Aloha' on the envelope?"
I responded sarcastically, "it was a luau!"
"It's not about a luau, it's about a cruise to Hawaii,"
DW declared. "I know, because I saw the tickets."
With genuine incredulity, I replied "that's amazing, because I haven't even seen the tickets yet. I don't even know if there are tickets. You're just playing games with my mind."
she confessed, playfully continuing "we're going to Hawaii, then we're going to Europe, then we're going to Australia! We're going to be gone for a long, long, time."
I exclaimed. "No more golden envelopes for me!"
(Don't worry, I said it with a smile.)
"Here, have some of this water from the forbidden abyss,"
I joked, handing her a bottle of Hawaiian water.
"You said we were going to the 'place of my dreams,'"
DW continued, undaunted.
"Well, you enjoyed our cruise to Catalina, didn't you?"
(I had seriously thought that she might think of Catalina as being the 'place of her dreams' when I had given her that clue on Mt. Baldy.)
She wasn't going to give up that easily. "Catalina is not the place of my dreams. Hawaii is! You're going to give me clues for a whole year and then you're just going to take me to Catalina? I wanted us to go to Hawaii on our honeymoon!"
"I actually don't remember that,"
I honestly responded.
"Don't get me wrong, I loved our honeymoon, but you just have to know I always wanted to go to Hawaii with you."
(Then she began reminding me of various times over the years that I have taken her to Hawaiian-themed locations, always apologizing "sorry that's it's not a real trip to Hawaii.")
"Maybe it's not a cruise to Hawaii,"
DW conceded, "Maybe we're flying to Hawaii.
"And if not,"
DW continued, "you'd better start looking for some cheap flights."
"What's so great about Hawaii anyway?"
I said, pretending to be frustrated.
"I'm sure I'll be happy wherever we go,"
DW confessed, "but that's my guess. And if you didn't want me to guess, you shouldn't have kept giving me clues."
"Here, look at this clue,"
I said, holding out one of the previous clues I had given her, "it says right here that we're going to Baja."
"Well, Baja is probably our first stop,"
DW shot right back, "on our way to Hawaii."
When we needed to stop at the grocery store on our way home, our #6 was frustrated because we were making him late for church.
"You don't always get what you want,"
I said to #6 (looking at DW while I said it).
"Then you need to be careful what your clues are,"
DW responded, "and stop giving me clues that look like Hawaii."
Finally our bantering ended with a time of silence, as we continued on our way home.
Eventually DW noticed that I was looking at her, smiling.
DW asked. "What?"
"Oh, I'm just imagining you in a grass skirt,"
I kidded. "Maybe Hawaii is where my dreams will come true!"
DW responded with a smile.