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Miscommunications: Finding Mr. Moto

By Will Parrish

I have been fortunate in my life to attract those more beautiful, and more intelligent than I, namely my bride of 12 years, Sarah. Sarah exhibited a level of intelligence much higher than mine during the week prior to our wedding ceremony in 1999 when she asked me to promise to take her to Hawaii for
our tenth anniversary. Thinking that 10 years is a long time, and being the consummate romantic, I shrugged and said "Ok."

Little did I know that I had just entered into a contract, signed with my blood, written in stone, locked away into the universe's time capsule marked "DO NOT OPEN UNTIL 2009!"

June, 2009 – Maryville, TN: A Maryville man who had previously entered into a blood-contract with his future wife to take her to Hawaii on their tenth anniversary was found unconscious in a gutter after thinking no contract had existed, and that the passage of time would nullify his contract. More to come as the situation develops.

will parrish
Ka'Anapali Beach, Maui.

After my short recovery, plans began to emerge for our 10th anniversary celebration trip to Hawaii, complete with a vow renewal ceremony on a Ka'Anapali beach on Maui. Upon the discovery that I would be taking his youngest daughter to the Hawaiian Islands, my father-in-law opened his campaign to convince me that we had to have this wonderful "shaved ice" on the North Shore of Oahu. Little did he know, he did not have to convince me at all since he had me at "they put ice cream in it!" Still, he continued his crusade to ensure that we did not miss "Mr. Moto's Shaved Ice."

When Sarah and I arrived on Oahu that December, my first trip to Hawaii, the first thing I put on our agenda was to rent a car, and drive straight to the North Shore and find the acclaimed Mr. Moto. Sarah, being the intellectual I previously mentioned that she is, suggested that we get to our hotel first and sleep a couple of hours since it was midnight in Honolulu. I acquiesced and committed to a fitful night's sleep, all the while dreaming of Mr. Moto, beckoning me with his ice- cream-infused shaved ice.

To say I woke the next day ready to get on the road would be laughable. I decided to skip breakfast in the event that the shaved ice was so delicious that I would be forced to eat two. ("Forced" meaning I liked it, and Sarah did not glare at me too crossly.) I had found out that morning from some locals that the correct pronunciation happened to be "shave-ice" as opposed to "shaved ice," a detail that I mistakenly discounted as non-material.

After a fatiguing drive around the entire circumference of the island of Oahu, we finally arrived in a quaint town that seemed like the kind of place Mr. Moto would hang out. Haleiwa was, and still is, my kind of town. No sidewalks. More surf boards than cars on the beach, and more farm animals than people in the streets. Haleiwa at least maintained the look of a town untouched by tourists, and surely would be the place Mr. Moto chose to settle down and sell his now famous shave ice. Off the beaten track as it was, Haleiwa did not reveal the enigmatic Mr. Moto as easily as I had expected. The way my father-in-law had gone on, and on... and on... and... and on about Mr. Moto, I thought to myself, "Surely we only have to get within a few miles of Mr. Moto's place and we will see signs everywhere!" I was wrong. As it turns out, Mr. Moto was either a recluse, or a cruel joke foisted on me by my father-in-law, who is known for foisting cruel jokes devoid of any humor or memorable content. I plan to tell him very soon that foisting is a bad habit he should break.

In any case, I did what every red-blooded American man worth his salt hates to do and pulled in to the local gas station to ask for help in finding Mr. Moto. Surely, a man of his celebrity and notoriety would be well known in any town on the North Shore. I ambled into the station with full confidence that the sweet little Japanese lady behind the counter would be able to help me round out my pilgrimage.

"I'm looking for Mr. Moto!" I announced as she sheepishly furrowed her brow, shrugged her shoulders, and shook her head from side to side. As I began to think of all of the ways I would get back at "my wife's father" cooler heads prevailed, and I tried again.

"You know. Mr. Moto. The FAMOUS Mr. Moto!" Another skill taught to me by Sarah's dad was that when you speak to folks of a different language, simply talk louder and slower, and they might understand you. But, to no avail. My spirit began to wilt in the humid air, and I began to think I had been chasing the fabled white rabbit.

One more try. "Shave ice. Mr. Moto's SHAVE ICE!" A breakthrough! My sweet little shave-ice-Sherpa began to smile, no giggle, like a geisha and shake her head yes. VINDICATION!

To my surprise, she covered her mouth as she laughed and said "No-no! No 'Mr. Moto!' Hee-hee. Ho-ho! No, no, no! MATT-SOO-MO-TO! Matsumoto!"

matsumotosAfter enduring several minutes of laughter, and Lin calling her friend Sue over to share in my humiliation, Lin kindly pointed in the direction of Matsumoto's Grocery Store, scarcely a block away.

Since then, Sarah and I have returned a couple of times to Matsumoto's store, only now we share the fun, and the delicious treat, with the Little Girls. I can't help but call Morris each time we go back and tell him we are visiting his favorite place, and since 2009 I have borne the brunt of many a stern look. However, it has all been worth it to now return and hear the girls chime in with "No! No Mr. Moto! MATT-SOO-MO-TO! HEE-HEE!"

Disclaimer: No fathers-in-law were harmed, harangued, insulted, disparaged or in any other way accosted in the writing of this journal entry.

Published June 16, 2012

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