By Diane Ako
I can't believe one person can have this many hearse stories. It's an embarrassment of riches.
We're still talking about the early days of dating, and Claus may have stopped driving the hearse to my house, but he was still comfortable to take it to his house.
One day, my parents were in town. At the time, they were living in New Jersey. They might have met Claus once before. They knew what he did, and my superstitious Chinese mother did not want to know much more.
They were staying at my house, using my car. They took me to and from work, and one night, wanted to have dinner at Hee Hing on Kapahulu, which was my late grandmother's favorite.
They suggested I invite Claus, so he said he'd meet us there. If you know Hee Hing, you know street parking is a rarity. Unbeknownst to me, he took the hearse. AND he valeted it.
Dinner went well, which was a relief that my parents seemed to like my new boyfriend. After dinner, we all waited outside for the valets to bring out the cars.
Guess whose vehicle came out first? Yes. The hearse.
My mother just about died when the valet pulled it up. All the other dining patrons also stopped and stared.
Most people wonder if there's a body retrieval. I'm sure that looked really good for Hee Hing.
My dad tried to break the awkward silence, by going 180 degrees the other way and trying to embrace the vehicle. "Oh, how nice. That's what one of these things looks like inside! Really roomy in the back! Maybe if we have too much luggage you can take us to the airport?"
My dad was walking around, poking his head into the hearse, the way a prospective car buyer inspects the product. The valet is waiting. There is a car behind us. People are staring.
I was hoping I might magically shrink to the size of an aspirin and crawl up in my own purse and hide.
Claus takes everything in stride. He's as mellow as they come. He smiled and patiently waited for my dad to finish admiring the vehicle, then tipped the valet and drove off.
The scene probably only lasted five minutes but it felt like an hour. I got into my own car with my parents. My mother said not one word about it, preferring to pretend it never happened.
"So, I guess you don't want to see where he works, then, Mom?" She glared at me.
I asked Claus to please not bring the hearse to a parental outing again!