My Kind of Town
Don Chapman

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The White Hawaiians

» Kona Coast

Tokelani Green took her time in rejoining Pua Makua, Ph.D., and Randy Makapu'u as they walked down through the guava grove in the middle of the upland kipuka. It wasn't just that Pua and Randy seemed to be coupling up before her very eyes -- a fact witnessed by three members of the Tuber Border Patrol, confirming that Tokelani, goddess of whoopee, had indeed returned. Well, that and their own heated panting in her presence.

More than that, she didn't know if the three guys who stood at least seven feet tall and wore nothing but huge wrap-around shades and loincloths with cell phones clipped to their belts were just the looniest goofs she'd ever encountered in her life, or if ... What if they were real?

Now that would be loony.

It was puzzling -- bordering on troubling -- that they'd called her by her name, and thanked her for returning, and that they knew Pua and Randy's names but clearly did not want to be seen by them.

They spoke of a King Kava-wai, and a princess, and testing among young men for the right to marry the princess, prefacing that news with "as you know." Like Tokelani should have known that already for some reason. They also said the king was inviting her to the wedding in the next few days, and they'd give her a call once the new prince was selected.

Tokelani felt as if she were living in a twisted folk tale.

She was a thoroughly modern woman, half-Hawaiian, 32, Roosevelt grad. At UH she started in pre-law, to help Hawaiians, and then in Business 101 experienced an epiphany: helping Hawaiians make money was a better idea. She'd worked for a number of private trusts and government agencies dealing with minority business ownership, and somehow that had morphed into this position with the Pono Commission, putting displaced Hawaiians back on the land, giving them a chance to use the land profitably.

So why were these pale Hawaiians in huge shades like you see on senior citizens at the mall so happy about her return?

Pua was pointing at something out in the vast lava field surrounding the kipuka and Randy was nodding and looking astonished -- happily astonished. Pua, as an ethno-studies professor, might have some thoughts on who Tokelani's three visitors were. Randy, as the soon-to-be land owner, probably had a right to know. But Tokelani kept their visit in her heart and pondered it. It fit better in her heart. In her head, it made no freakin' sense at all.

"Hey, Tokelani!" Randy called. "Pua was just saying that this guava orchard once belonged to Kamehameha the Great. And she, like, had a thing for him. That could be why she saved this land."

"Fascinating," Tokelani said, thinking to herself, I'll bet there's more than guava going on around here.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek. His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin. He can be e-mailed at dchapman@midweek.com

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