The same conversations take place every year.
"Would you like to go the fair Thursday?" she asks.
"Are you marching in the parade?" he questions.
"We can meet at the main entrance. I'll watch from Keopuolani Park and walk over."
She loves walking along Kaahumanu Avenue from the UH-Maui College campus to the fairgrounds in the War Memorial Complex. Joining the newspaper's ohana is a link to when her family owned The Maui News. She enjoys waving to friends along the route. He likes to watch.
Around 5 p.m. or so, the newspaper gang goes by the reviewing stand on Kanaloa Avenue. The parade disintegrates down by the Little League fields. He scans the milling crowd. She's a little hard to spot. Not tall, you know.
It's been the same every year for the last decade, give or take a year or two.
"What do you want to see first?" he asks.
"I don't care. We can eat later," she says.
"Let's go over to the livestock tent."
That means cruising through the "Joy Zone." There are already lines of keiki waiting for a ride on this or that. Music mixes in the evening air. One tune from the carousel, another from that thing that swings back and forth and still others from the other nausea-prompting rides barged to Maui by E.K. Fernandez.
Teenagers march along in self-absorbed groups. There's a lot of standing still or dodging for the everyone else. Life on Maui is not conducive to honing the skills needed to negotiate crowds. A lot of near misses.
Walk across an open area rimmed by a rank of toilets, portable versions of old-time hale li'ili'i. The sweet scent of fertilized straw and animals takes her back to small-kid times spent on a Maui ranch and him to barns and feedlots around his hometown in the Midwest.
The inside of the big tent is brightly lit. Small pens hold pigs, goats and sheep, three or four of each. Knee-high town kids stare in wonder. Sometimes they reach through the bars and touch an animal, but only at the urging of parents, grandparents, aunties or uncles. Bulls and horses get single accommodations. Calves and colts with mommas enchant admirers.
Down one side and up the other. End the tour by exclaiming over fantastically feathered pigeons and chickens of many breeds.
"See these bantams," she says. "Grandpa gave me a bunch of them when they were just fluff balls on toothpicks. They'd follow me around."
He's more interested in the variety of rabbits, big, small, lop-eared and of many colors. All with bright eyes. He thinks about the days when beef and pork were in short supply on the island and backyard hutches supplied meat for the table.
Out of the tent and down the game side of the midway. Back walls of booths are crowded with stuffed animals and cartoon characters - prizes for putting down money on the chance of a skillful or lucky win. More likely lucky. Out of the zone, past cotton-candy trailers.
"Let's eat and then go see the orchids," he suggests.
Circle the long picnic tables. Find a couple of new items along with favorite finger foods and plate lunches offered by a progression of fundraising organizations. After making the circuit, decide on the basis of taste and which booth is being operated by hardworking friends.
There are no strangers at the picnic tables. We are all here together. Sit anywhere there's an open spot. Stuff the opu. Drop the opala into a can. Lick malasada sugar, sweet corn butter and meat grease off fingers.
Walk by the tent with the free entertainment and into the gym. Homemaker crafts and children's art on this side. It's amazing what kids can do with ink, crayons, chalk or paint. Photographs, vegetables and fruits on the other. In the back, the orchid display.
"I like the ones that look like tiny dancers," he says.
The fruits and vegetables are admired. Ditto the photographs. Then it's over to the two tents housing organizations and commercial stuff.
Along the way, old friends emerge from the throngs for quick greetings and short updates on their lives. Often, it's the only time of year they see each other.
There's more to see but old feet say it's time to wind it up.
Every year: "This was a good one." Dumb comment. There is no such thing as a bad Maui Fair. See you tonight, at the fair.
* Ron Youngblood is a retired staff writer for The Maui News. His email address is email@example.com.