Including a little story about Bob Heinlein
All right, you’ve pulled out a map and you know from the long/lat that we’re now leaving Tahiti and heading for the island of Moorea, just across the channel. But did you know what Moorea meant to Ginny Heinlein?
First, I wish to put on record that Moorea is my third-favorite island in the world. (First and second places are taken by Manhattan and England.) What it meant to me when I first got there, 30-odd years ago, was Heaven.
I had taken myself there to spend a couple of blissfully warm weeks one miserable winter because I was feeling frazzled. Moorea totally unfrazzled me. Warm sun, crystalline lagoon, good French food and a little grass shack all my own, but with electricity and a civilized bathroom. I snorkled, I loafed, I let the frazzles melt away. By the time I got back to the airport in Papeete to begin the long trip home, I was at peace with the world — partly, I thought, because I had almost forgotten there was one. Not a living soul, for thousands of miles in any direction, knew my name, nor cared to.
Well, the answer to that was simple, Robert and Ginny hadn’t known I was on the island because I hadn’t told anyone. Likewise, I had had no idea their cruise ship would be putting in at the port across the island from Tia Ora. I was sorry to have missed a good party, but these things happen. It then slipped my mind for some years.
Then Bob was to be awarded an honorary doctorate in Michigan, and Betty Anne and I grabbed a plane to cheer him on. (The photo of Bob and me in The Way the Future Was was taken there.) The Heinleins had chosen to stay at a hotel some distance from the proceedings; Betty Anne and I drove over to join them one evening and I happened to remember that missed connection on Moorea.
I got an immediate look of extreme displeasure from Ginny. “Don’t mention that place! It almost killed Robert. Remember that big, steep mountain in the middle of it? Well, we were walking around at the base of it and Robert wanted a good look at the peak. He tipped his head way back. It hurt. He had damaged his carotid artery, and I hope we never see the place again.”