Talking Story

Am Writing

  • The caress of humidity and the weight of bushy, bushy hair.
  • The way the elderly security guard’s curt aloha changes when you catch his eye and say, “Oh, ovah dere? Eh, mahalo, Uncle. I get ‘em now.”
  • How his smile now reaches his eyes.
  • Breathing after saltwater goes up your nose and finally clears decades of desert from your sinuses.
  • The newly sharp scent of everything—plumeria, red dirt, garbage, gecko dust, keawe smoke, laundry soap, and coconut sunscreen slathered on pink skin carrying big Matsumoto’s rainbow shave ice.
  • When driving along Kamehameha highway, wave as you slow just enough to let cars merge or turn in front of you because giving them two of your seconds now can literally save hours for others later.
  • Quick car beeps are for howzit; long honks are from the mainland.
  • Modesty and respect are mindsets and not measured in inches.
  • “Where are you from?” and “Where did you go to school?” are the first steps in an intricate how-are-we-related dance.
  • ‘Ohana means EVERY TIME you walk past a certain bakery, the owner chases you through the parking lot and gives you loaves of his amazing bread because you are friends with his cousin’s cousin’s friend.
  • Nervous tourists constantly approach you with questions because you seem to know things like how to get places, what to order, and where bathrooms are. You have to remind yourself to switch off the Pidgin when you respond.
  • It’s “locals,” not Hawaiians, unless they are kanaka maoli.
  • Don’t ask cashiers and security guards where’s a good place to eat. Ask them where THEY like to eat. Kalua pork wrapped in luau leaves and cooked in an imu is a thousand times better than in an Instant Pot, crockpot, or oven. Real plate lunches have poi as a side option. Real haupia tastes like coconut, not cornstarch.
  • Kids and teachers give you side eye when you first walk through the door. You can almost see the WTF thought balloons over their heads. But five minutes later they are calling you Aunty and laughing. They never ask how to pronounce Lehua or Niuhi. Their burning questions are all about ‘Ilima, the dog who obviously isn’t just a dog.

#homeagain #amwriting #HawaiiStories #OneBoyNoWater

You know how Boy Scouts are supposed to do a good deed each day? A couple of days ago I was the little old lady that got helped across the street–and the stakes were way higher than getting across the road.

I run on Diet Coke. It’s no secret–and cans are hands down the best. There’s an ongoing canned soda shortage in Utah. Right now canned Diet Coke is almost impossible to find and more valuable than gold to those who drink it like water.

So I’m in Costco. I know there’s no possibility that they have any, but it never hurts to check, right? I get near where the canned soda is kept. It’s right near the end of a row, but I’m on the wrong aisle, so I follow their stupid flow patterns and go ALL the way around until I’m in the right aisle coming from the “approved” direction. I’m almost there when a mom with two strapping teenage sons comes down the wrong way and stops at the soda.

I watch as one son loads cases of Mountain Dew and Sprite while the other son rummages and pulls up a case–35 cans!–of Diet Coke. “Hey, Mom!” he says, “I got the last one!” He puts it under their cart.

I call out, “Lucky!” Just teasing a bit.

“Oh,” he says. “Did you want Diet Coke?”

“Yeah, but it’s okay,” I say. “It’s not a big deal.”

“Oh, you can have it,” he says, picking it up again.

Oops. This was not my intention. “No, really,” I say. “It’s fine. I was just teasing a little.”

“No, take it,” he says, walking over.

His mother is staring daggers at me. I’m pretty sure she’s buying things for a Super Bowl party. Teen boys don’t drink Diet Coke, but she probably does. The kid’s not oblivious to the waves coming off Mom.

He glances at her, a bit confused. “What? It’s just Diet Coke.” He chucks it under my cart.

One of the sample ladies magically appears. She nervously says to the mom, “Go up to the front and tell them you want Diet Coke. They may have some in the back.” Sample Lady gets the stakes. Maybe over the past few months she’s seen blows over this and is tired of mopping up blood.

“Oh? There’s more in the back?” I say.

The mom and I both know that there’s no way there’s some in the back, but I’m thinking it’s a graceful out for me. I can just say, “No, you keep it and I’ll talk to somebody up front.”

But the kid is undeterred in doing his good deed. “See,” he says to his mom, “We can just ask up front.” He turns to me, face shinning with the good manners he’s been taught, and I see that doing this is very important to him. It’s cementing a pattern of thinking of others before himself.

Yeah, it’s Diet Coke, and it doesn’t mean much to him. But refusing it might make him feel less like helping others in the future.

I look at the mom and tell her she’s raised good sons with my eyes. I smile at the kid beneath my Covid mask and say, “Thanks. I really appreciate it.”

He grins and says, “No problem,” and turns to grab regular Coke.

And I hele’d out of there so fast smoke was probably coming off my sneakers.

It was 35 cans of Diet Coke after all.

#amwriting #musejuice #GoodDeeds #Momisstillprobablypissed

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