The neighborhood women were complaining that I was ‘out flaunting’ myself, and their men were spying on me all day!
After the big hurricane of ’82, my kids and I decided to move to a bigger place down the road in Kekaha, a wisp of a town on Kauai, in Hawaii.
Most of the folks who lived in Kekaha were Filipinos who worked at the sugar mill and their families. The house we moved to was a newly-built two-story house in an all-Filipino community. My kids and I were the only haoles – white folks – in the entire neighborhood. The new place was closer to their school so they could ride their bikes to and fro.
Our house was on the immediate inland side of the road that separated our place from the beach. We had a spectacular view of the ocean and Niihau, the forbidden island.
We were given the top story. Our landlords, a Filipino family, grandparents Nana and Tata, son Peter and wife and their young son, lived downstairs.
Our two levels were joined by an open stairway that just happened to allow every sound and scent the downstairs folks made to come floating up to join us above.
I didn’t mind for the most part – they were about the nicest people on the planet. We often got together out on their lanai for snacks and drinks and lots of laughter.
It got awkward when they made fried eggs – they’d break the yolks and cook them until crispy, then add baga’ong, a nasty thick sauce made from puréed anchovies. Smelled like burnt hair. Not fun to be upstairs from.
They just happened to choose a spot right under my bedroom window as their favorite place to slaughter the pigs they roasted for celebrations.
I’d never seen such a thing before. Horrifying. Squeal squeeeeeeal squea… a sudden abrupt stop as the red line appeared, left to right, life pouring from the cut into a big pan below – blood to be made into black pudding.
They kindly moved their killing field when I asked them to – they just hadn’t thought it through that the sissy white girl might object to a massive screaming blood bath under her window at 5 am.
They allowed me to build an 8×16 shed out back so I could I set up my pottery studio. It took about two weeks for me to lay the foundation, put the floor down, frame the walls and all the rest.
Since it was summer and Kekaha was on the hot, dry side of the island, it was hot as blazes – too hot for even a t-shirt. So my daily construction garb was my bikini top, short shorts, work boots, and red kerchief headband to stop the salty streaming sweat from blinding me.
I heard from Peter that all the neighborhood women were complaining that I was ‘out flaunting’ myself, and, although I never noticed them, their men were spying on me all day!
I never said anything to any of them – how could I? “Oh, excuse me, I’m not about to steal your man…”
Nah – that would have been silly. The men were all, except for a few, a foot shorter than I was anyway – the picture of … well, never mind…
Peter was constantly bringing old Filipino men he knew over, trying to hook me up with them. Most of them were married to women who had stayed behind in the Philippines years before, and had their own lives there.
Every one of these guys was a skinny boney bag of wrinkly skin, 60 years old or more, teeth missing – he insisted they’d ‘take care of’ me and my kids –
Ummm … no, thanks –
I had made a lot of friends during the time the island was shut down because of the hurricane the year before. It had become a daily routine to hang out at the local bar/restaurant each afternoon as I waited for the kids to come home. The bar had served as the central community meeting spot during our post-hurricane time.
One afternoon there, I was introduced to ‘Steve,’ a new guy in town. As we shook hands, I had the immediate sensation of extreme, urgent need. I ignored it, and went on with the conversation.
He told us how he was just out of the service after having been stationed on Guam for 18 months.
In case you don’t know, Guam is a tiny island in the middle of god’s left armpit, way out in the Pacific Ocean – the westernmost point of territory of the United States. Guam is approximately 30 miles long, and about a mile wide. Not a whole lot to do there.
So you can see how isolated it is, you have to go 1500 miles east to get to the Philippines, 1350 miles west to Japan, and 3000 miles north to Hawaii. Being stationed there for eighteen months was a killer sentence. Like being in prison.
Steve stood there holding onto the bar, telling us tale after tale. After about the third one, I noticed he didn’t say a word about any women. Weren’t there any on Guam? Didn’t he date anyone?
He told us he’d gotten into trouble and been punished by being restricted to the base. The whole time he was there. My lord – how to make a guy feel bad!
I had to leave, so I didn’t hear any more stories.
Later, at home, kids now out playing, I heard footsteps coming up the outside stairway. I looked out, and here’s Steve. Red in the face, gasping from the climb, and drunk as a skunk.
As he reached up to knock on the edge of the screen door, I felt the sensation of giant claws tearing into my belly and ripping my guts out.
Utterly shocked, my shriek sounded like a witch’s scream designed to torture the dead. My body doubled over in such sharp unrelenting pain that I collapsed in a heap on the floor.
Steve was still knocking.
I’m not sure why he didn’t see or notice me on the floor writhing like a cursed serpent, but he called out, “Hey pretty woman, are you there? Want to come play?” He was fondling himself clumsily as he stumbled, swaying back and forth on his unsteady feet.
Uhhh … nooo –
I called out, “Go away! Go away! I’m sick! No! Go away!”
He kept banging on the door jamb.
“Come out, come ouuuut, here I ammm, ready to playyyy…”
I finally had to get up, still in dire pain, pressing my hands against my belly as if it was going leap out of my body.
I yelled as loud as I could right in his face, “Get the hell away! Go! No, I don’t want to play! Get out!”
Screaming like that at a drunk man is not the coolest thing to do. Across his visage, I read hurt little boy, rejected young man, repressed soldier, angry hurt man – it all flashed by on his face in nano-moments. He hung his head. Sweat beaded on the closely-cropped crown of his head.
I was lucky. He decided to turn and go. If his repressed-angry-highly-trained-soldier-self had ended up at the forefront of his very messed up mind, I could have gotten beaten up – or worse.
As soon as he moved away, down the stairs and off the property, the pain vanished.
I was stunned. I had read about transfer of emotions, but had never had such a stark example of it demonstrated. Not a whit of pain existed in my belly. Nothing. Gone.
Steve got thrown in the slammer a few days later after raping two women in a nearby town.
Bobby, one of my friends who had been hanging out at the bar heard Steve bragging about the two women. Too bad my friend was a cop, eh? Busted.
Bobby brought me one of his machetes that same day.
I was more than happy that my body had protected me so well, but I was also very pleased to receive Bobby’s support, too!
DON’T BE NICE
We are so conditioned to ‘be nice’ that we ignore our intuition.
When we don’t heed early danger signs – like that handshake – we often pay heavily for tragic consequences later. If my body hadn’t known what to do, I could have been one of the women he raped.
Since I can be pretty thick – more like as unmovable as a stubborn blind, deaf mule – it took a few more of these unfun scenes with various men for me to realize that it was time for me to do a little soul-searching as to why these things were happening.
I was 39, about to embark upon a life-altering quest to find out about myself and my inner works, questioning why such things were happening ‘to’ me. Eventually admitting that in all these situations, the common denominator was – me.
A whole new universe was opening up for me. I had studied and applied metaphysical ideas and practices for 20 years, but now I would learn about the secrets of the human mind.
I had to learn about powerful unwanted, unbearable emotions, and what to do with them.
I had to find out about the effects of beliefs and habits I had developed that had been caused by my reactions to past events and people in my life.
Better yet, I eventually learned how to change my entire life by changing my responses.
But best of all, I learned how to be me. The real, authentic, vulnerable, creative, powerful, loving, don’t-take-shit-from-anyone, me.
Thanks for reading my story! I hope you enjoyed it.
MY BODY KNEW WHAT TO DO, EVEN WHEN I DIDN’T
Image: WHO WE REALLY ARE
Original painting — oils on canvas. Sold
© Angela Treat Lyon 2002
text © Angela Treat Lyon 2023
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