Honolulu Lite


Wednesday, May 1, 2002

Oprah and Koko to be neighbors

When I first heard that entertainment mogul Oprah Winfrey was buying 105 acres of land on Maui I thought, "Whoa! That's more land than that gorilla's getting!"

I'm not sure why Koko the gorilla came to mind when Oprah's land purchase was announced. Maybe it's because Oprah is a famous "talk show host" and Koko is a famous "talking gorilla."

Koko doesn't actually talk; she uses sign language to express thousands of human words she has learned. Koko's supporters have bought about 70 acres of land on Maui for the gorilla and she was supposed to move in sometime this year.

The land thing is what really made me connect Koko with Oprah. Koko gets 70 acres of prime Maui real estate and Oprah snags another 105 acres. On the mainland, people would say "so what?" But to those of us living in Hawaii, where the purchase of land is usually measured in inches and feet, the idea of buying "acres" of aina is inconceivable. I'll bet all the full-blooded Hawaiians on Maui don't own 100 acres of land in total. Nevertheless, locals have been pretty tolerant of wealthy celebrities and primates settling on Maui.

I'm no entertainment agent but if Oprah doesn't get her future neighbor Koko the Talking Gorilla onto her talk show, she's missing a huge opportunity. I'm not sure what they'll talk about. Probably what all neighbors talk about:

Oprah: I love what you've done with your rain forest! And the view! Hey, I can see my house from the tree canopy!

Koko: And I love what you've done with your 12 beach houses. Which gardener are you using? My bougainvilleas won't bloom and the kudzu vines have absolutely no strength. Why, one snapped when I was swinging home yesterday and I almost broke my neck.

Oprah: Koko, let's talk. I don't think it's the vines. You're looking a bit, well, filled out these days. How's the scale treating you?

Koko: I'm at 325 pounds, which is positively svelte for a lowland gorilla.

Oprah: Not for a 5-foot tall lowland gorilla, honey. I'm sending my chef up here to live with you for a while. Look what she did for me!

Koko: Sweetie, let's not get personal. I love your outfit but a muumuu hides a multitude of cheeseburgers in paradise.

Oprah: I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about. I had lunch with Jimmy Buffett yesterday and he'll swear I ate nothing but a salad.

Koko: Let's not argue, precious. Did I show you my new book: "Roar Through Life! Unleash the Gorilla in You!"

Oprah: Sorry, chum, I'm not doing the Book Club thing any more. Got to run, Kelsey Grammer's popping over for a swim.

Koko: Bitch.

Oprah: What'd you say, hairball?

Koko: Beach! I said, enjoy your beach!

Oprah: See ya ... neighbor.

Charles Memminger, winner of National Society of Newspaper Columnists awards, appears Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. E-mail

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