I Was Pierce Brosnan’s Son
Kitchen smoke and the sound of clicking chopsticks filled the air of the Hamura Saimen Stand on the island of Kauai. The crowd was mixed and the place was hopping when I entered for dinner. Locals winding down from work sat shoulder-to-shoulder with sun-dazed tourists freshly showered after a day at the beach. There wasn’t a free seat in the house so I got in the back of the line.
“You must be Pierce’s son,” said a man who appeared suddenly in front of me.
Where had he come from? Judging by his grimy T-shirt and durable tan, he was local. I had no idea what he was talking about.
The words, “Excuse me?” nearly slipped off my tongue but I bit them off. At parties where people go around pinpointing each other’s resemblance to celebrities, I am often told I look like Pierce Brosnan. This guy had mistaken me for his son. I don’t know why but I said, “Well, now that you’ve identified me, do me a favor and keep it between us.”
“Sure, sure. I won’t say a word,” he said as if he were doing me a favor. “I saw your dad today,” he continued without skipping a beat. “I was at his house bidding on the installation of his satellite phone. I didn’t realize you were on the island.”
I hadn’t realized I was on the island either.
“I met your sister. She kept saying that the phone was too expensive, but your dad said, ‘Install it’. He wants that satellite connection as well as the landline just in case.”
“Well, that’s dad for you. Always thinking he’s James Bond,” I said shaking my head.
It was safer to play the part as if I didn’t know a thing about any of this. But I worried that Mike knew things about the Brosnans that I didn’t. I’ll play the part of the aloof son who is dropping in after not having seen his famous dad in months.
“There’s another contractor named, Doug, bidding on the project. Your dad’s trying to decide between him and me,” said the local contractor trying to sound humble. “I hope he goes with me.”
“My name’s Mike,” he said outstretching his hand.
Now what? Not only did I not know his son’s name, I didn’t even know if Pierce Brosnan had a son. Mike obviously thought he did. I decided to wing it.
“Thibault,” I said, using my real name as our hands met.
I had gambled that Mike didn’t know Pierce, Jr. by name. Most people have some reaction when they hear my unusual first name. Mike didn’t bat an eye. My bluff had worked.
The waitress was looking at us and gesturing toward two stools that had just opened up.
“Mind if I sit with you?” Mike asked.
“No,” I said. I was finding this quite entertaining. We sat down.
“Have you been here before?” asked Mike.
“No,” I said scanning the menu.
“Here, let me order for you. I’ll get you what’s good. You like seafood?”
I didn’t want him to order for me but I was mentally trying to stay one step ahead.
“Sure,” I said. The menu simply had too many options to contemplate.
“Two shrimp,” he told the waitress as she walked past.
A minute later, she placed two piping hot shrimp saimen in front of us. I mixed some shoyu and hot sauce into the small dish near my soup and dug in.
We ate in silence for a while. My attention focused on a shaggy teenager at another table whose left ear was impaled by a small conch shell. It was so stunning that his pimply face and The Simpsons T-shirt could not dispel my image of him as a dwarf albino Masai warrior on the African plains. The shell was an unfortunate way to demonstrate uniqueness, I thought, and for his sake, I hoped he would remove it before returning to school.
“You know, you’re really a spitting image of your father, Thibault,” Mike said.
“That’s what they tell me.”
“I wish you could meet my daughter,” he added, “She’s 18. About to graduate from high school. Real smart. MIT material.”
I nodded, affecting an earnest consideration of this new information.
I was getting deeper into the deception – or rather was allowing Mike to take it deeper. I was monitoring myself not to say anything contradictory but as a result of my paucity of words, I felt I had given up some nimbleness. Up till now, I had been pretty sure I could break the truth to him and we could share a laugh. Now that he had offered his daughter, it seemed possibly safer to maintain the deception. But it was getting really strange. I chased a few loose noodles around with my chopsticks. Mike changed the subject.
“What are you going to do on the island?”
When I told him I wanted to surf he suggested a lesser-known spot near Princeville, on the North Shore. He proceeded to give me a series of directions that went in one ear and out the other because I hadn’t been down the road. When his last instruction was to take a right at the split in the road three miles before Hanalei, I said, “Cool, I might check it out.”
“Hey,” Mike announced as he pinched the last few noodles out of his bowl, “I’m meeting up with my family at a pool hall near here after dinner. Why don’t you join us for a game?”
Oh, boy. Playing Pierce Brosnan’s son for Mike was one thing but taking on his whole family was quite another. What if one of them had seen Pierce Brosnan’s son in People Magazine? There were all kinds of potential snafus with this plan. I politely declined.
“Well, I’m hanging out with some friends tonight and I don’t think I can make it. Thanks for the offer, though.”
“Let me just call my wife,” Mike said.
He flipped open his cell phone and dialed. “Hey honey, I’m at the Hamura Saimen Stand. You’ll never guess who I’m with. I’m finishing up dinner with Thibault. Yeah, Thibault, you know, Pierce’s son.”
I polished off my saimen as Mike finished his phone call.
“You sure you don’t want to join us?”
“I don’t think so,” I said. “But thanks. I should take off.”
“Yeah, me too. I’ll cover this,” Mike said, pulling out his wallet.
I told him I would pay my own way but he adamantly refused. I couldn’t dissuade him. He slapped down the money for both of us as we pushed away from the counter. I suppose I should have tried harder, but I didn’t.
“Let me give you a ride back to wherever you’re staying,” he said as we stepped out into the parking lot.
“No thanks. I’m in a walking mood.”
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“It’ll be fine,” I replied as I moved away.
He watched as I approached the edge of the parking lot, no doubt thinking of some final offer that might change my mind. He didn’t want to let me go. Dreams of being Pierce’s satellite dish installation man had a hold on him. I wished I could be there when he told Pierce Brosnan about meeting his son, Thibault. For now, I just wanted a quiet walk by myself, away from the clingers and the paparazzi, in the balmy night air of Kauai.