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It was going to be a dream vacation: Surfing, Volcanos, the Hilton on Waikiki…except for the tiny fact that we would also be working. Every year, give or take a few, since 2006 I have helped my father at his International Symposium on Electromagnetic Compatibility. You do not have to understand what EMC is to know that standing on showroom floor during the show was not the ideal location to spend this dream vacation in Hawaii.


The whole Hoolihan family was going to reunite on Oahu during the 50th Anniversary of the Symposium—nerdily, but fortunately, celebrated in the 50th state to join the country and coincidentally over my father’s birthday.Despite the fact that we would be forced labor, we were all set to enjoy some sun and some time together, as even our brother would be joining us from his station on Okinawa in Japan.

I wasn’t going to look a gift-horse in the mouth, but…I wanted my boyfriend (and future husband) to travel with me. Dan-Dan Hoolihan wasn’t going to be paying for a hotel room for shaking up, no matter the promise my future-hubby and I had made to wait until marriage.

So, I paid for the hotel room myself.

My sister’s boyfriend, and future husband, shacked with my brother while my sister was the roommate of parents.

Despite that hiccup in the planning of the dream vacation, the excitement was rampant! The first night that my siblings and I arrived to share the trip with my parents, we headed straight to the little hotel bar right on the beach. Mostly, we were starving and were in search of food, but had to have a drink too!

Sitting and taking in the view, my sister proceeded to order a Pink Coral. As in, the living ocean item, however, she pronounced it corral—where a cowboy would keep his horse.

We were off to a raring start!

Several nights later, the next gen Hoolihans were celebrating the fact that we didn’t have to be at the convention center the next day with an impromptu party in our Shacking-Up Shame Hole. It was in this very location that my now-husband and now-brother-in-law decided that getting my brother drunk for the first time in the safety of the nest of siblings was a great idea.

For new readers who are unfamiliar with the back story on the bro, here is a quick recap. Super smart guy. Super GOOD guy. Went to MIT got a degree in Civil Engineering and then worked designing hulls on nuclear submarines. It was not the adventure he dreamed it would be, and after 9/11 decided to enlist in the Army where he entered into the Officer track.

As he explained it to us, he was always driving the other guys when they were drinking.


So, Hawaii was to be the first time he was inebriated.

I was not overly keen on the idea. I didn’t want the heroic picture of my brother that I had painted in my head to be tarnished. But, I was the little-big sister in this case, and had to accept that this was happening.

I could not even tell you what they drank. I know we had MaiTai’s and probably beer early in the evening, and I know that we had stopped at the ABC to buy beer and liquor. I know there was beer, because as the night wore on, and I went to bed like a party pooper, there was a bottle that was broken in the shower.

I believe the beer had been shaken and was being taken to the shower to overflow, but who knows.

I did manage to make it out on our patio for the highlight of the evening.

My husband had accomplished his task, and my brother got sick from drinking. He managed to evacuate the contents of his stomach off the patio, and not in the hotel room, thankfully.

As my brother gazed at the pile below him, he looked at us with more excitement than someone who had just upchucked should have look. Furrowing his eyebrows, he looked at us and said,” That’s so…. post-modern.”

Only my brother.

In the morning, I am not sure that he found the experience quite as intriguing as the night before. My sister and I had risen bright and early as we had known we would need to do to get tickets to visit the USS Arizona. The boys did not join us as we made our way to visit the most historic place we knew on Oahu. We were able to secure tickets for ourselves that afternoon, and we waited most of the day to see the bubbles of Black Tears rise over the graves of the deceased.


When we returned from the ferry, there were the boys, they had arrived just to be in the essence of the historic locale. They had finally woken up.