We are skipping over the waves in a 16’ Zodiac inflatable raft. I’m fishing, drinking beer and eating deli sandwiches with Philly, my daughter’s live-in boyfriend. We are trolling the surf for tuna, while watching the surfers ballet. There is not much fishing action, so Philly says he wants to take me to the Napali Coast, the rugged, inaccessible northshore of the island where the winter currents are notoriously treacherous. The Zodiac is powered by a single 40 horsepower outboard motor, we have no radio, so lose an engine here, and we’d drift to Guam before they found us.
We’re bouncing in the turbulent sea for almost half an hour, the beer and sandwich beginning to rumble, when Philly stops the engine at what he calls “ a sacred power spot”. This is where the Hanakapiai River, with its spectacular waterfalls, comes down from the jungle highlands through a verdant valley, emptying here into the ocean. Philly says “can you feel the energy in this place”? I feel the energy in my belly and hoping it doesn’t erupt. I am a terrible sailor, and even gentle rocking can get, my vestibular system in an uproar. This is the moment he says “I want to ask your blessings and advice, before I ask your daughter to marry me”.
Philly is a blond, long-haired, gentle soul, who is a master carpenter, fix-it man, rock climber, juggler, drummer in a rock band and outdoorsman. He is a committed environmentalist, who is currently converting a diesel truck into one that runs on vegetable oil. I love his hippie soul; my grandkids love him even more, since he took them rappeling down the head of Camelback Mountain. My wife and daughters marvel at Philly’s ability to deal with my Princess Baby’s passionate, dramatic, soulful spontaneity. They love that he doesn’t take her manifestations personally; he listens, smiles, commiserates and finds a way to balance her intensity. I think it’s a great match, and it touched me that he is asking for my blessing. I want to say something, but am breaking out into a sweat and manage to utter, I’m going overboard before I throw up.
He jumps in after me, and wisely gets out of the way as I begin to chum the waters. He says my Princess Baby has the same tendency to sea-sickness, but that she still encouraged him to buy the boat. Bobbing and wretching, he asks me to keep this news from my wife until he has asked my daughter. I tell him the likelihood of me keeping that from my wife for longer than 24 hours is about the same as not getting sick in these swells. He says he’ll do it while we’re in Kauai.
The next afternoon (also out at sea), Philly asks the Princess to marry him. He also tells her about my reaction the previous day, and that I endearingly assured him it had nothing to do with him personally; that I was delighted he would be marrying my last unmarried daughter.
Oh yeah, another son-in-law to join the chorus of hormonally crippled son-in-laws on our annual Boy’s Trip; I am so happy.