There are some things that happen on a trip like this that are just too good not to share. Unfortunately, for this Conch Man episode, it was mostly an audible experience but I will try to recreate it in words.
First: What is a conch? Well here ya go.
A conch is a common name which is applied to a number of different species of medium-sized to large sea snails or their shells, generally those which are large and have a high spire and a siphonal canal.
So now that we have that established let me continue with my Conch Man story. Dodie and I were sitting on the lanai at the condo in Kailua Kona having a cocktail. There is nothing unusual about that. The lanai is directly over the condo pool which is seven stories below us. The residents of the condo were preparing for a pot luck dinner to be held around the pool. They had decorated tables at which to eat, and other tables that were laden with dishes for them to enjoy. While we were invited, we had decided to pass as we had been out that day and did not know if we would return in time to participate. So we admired their layout and then sat back to enjoy our cocktails.
Our reverie was interrupted by this majestic trumpeting sound, ‘Paaahrooooooommmph”.
We jumped up and looked down to the pool where this man was holding a conch, one which he had just blown and made that sound or the audible equivalent. He was dressed all in white with a red sash. After sounding the conch he walked majestically for a few feet and said some words that we could not understand from our high vantage point.
He then trumpeted the conch again,” Paahroooooommmph”. He said a few more words and then walked with measured footsteps until he was centered on the edge of the pool. He raised the conch instrument to his lips once more and this time we were ready for the trumpeting noise.
This time he brought it to his lips, took a big breath of air and then…….”phht”. Okay. Anyone can hit a bad note. Another breath of air and again to his lips, “phsst” which sounded more like a bicycle tire going flat than a conch being sounded properly.
Undaunted, our sea snail musician gathered himself together for another try. By this time we were feeling a little bad for him. I mean he is putting it all out there as all great entertainers do and you just wanted it to go well for him.
Back to his lips. Deep Breath. Shoulders back. And with a mighty blow, “ PSSTH”.
I can feel sorry for someone and laugh at him at the same time. I did. With relish. I know I am going to go to hell for this but at some point you just have to enjoy the humor in all of this. I started giggling uncontrollably. Dodie tried to shush me less the man and the audience hear me.
I gathered myself together as there had been no re-attempt to blow the conch. So it was over. As I wiped the tears from my eyes I peered over the rail and he was still there. Preparing for another go at it! I was thinking,”Dude, give it up. It is just not a conch blowing kind of day.” But he didn’t listen. They never do.
After gathering himself up for a full minute or so you just knew he was going to be successful. I know God loves a good joke but enough is enough. We, on the top rail, were pulling for him. We were confident he had the skills. Back to his lips. Everyone was waiting. You could see people mimic his motions as though all of our collective positive energy would push him over the top on this one final try. We all inhaled with him. And then….this flatulent sounding,”phhmp”.
Now I am the floor of the lanai, laughing like a fool, luckily out of sight of the people down below who all had to maintain composed facial expressions. You gotta know some of them were having the same reaction as I was but they just couldn’t show it. I mean, they have to live with this guy. And I may be going to hell for laughing at someone else’s misfortune but I know I will have company because by now Dodie is laughing as hard as I am.
Our fit of laughing over we stood back up and observed once again knowing that the show was over. But it wasn’t! He was going to give it another shot! I almost yelled, “Don’t do it, Bubba!”’Get a kazoo for crying out loud. A kazoo won’t betray you. Just anything but please don’t try to blow that thing again as it is going to kill me if you fail”.
When he raised it to his lips again I had to avert my eyes. If you see a train wreck about to happen and there is nothing you can do about it, it is best just to look away. I really did not have to look away because there were so many tears in my eyes I couldn’t see anyway. I don’t know what happened but I do know that there was no majestic ‘Paaahrooooooommmph.” There was no joy in Mudville. Mighty Conch man had struck out.
Several minutes later we gathered ourselves together for another look. Mercifully, there was a hula dancer performing and Conch Man was no where to be seen. And that concluded the night’s entertainment.