Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Wednesday, August 26, 1998

Al Gore isn’t
here to lei low

ALOHA Mr. Vice President. Welcome to paradise. Hope you are enjoying your visit.

I think it's rude for people to suggest you came here because it is as far away from Bill Clinton as you can get and still stay in the United States. That's just plain wrong. You could have gone to Guam.

I know you've been here before, but I thought I might give you some pointers about the 50th State.

First of all, it was exactly 100 years ago that Hawaii was annexed to the United States. Don't mention this to anyone. You'd think that a state would celebrate the anniversary of its joining the union, but we don't. It's not that we aren't proud to be part of America. Many of us are. But there are some residents of Hawaiian ancestry who just can't get over the fact that, well, Hawaii's marriage to the U.S. was kind of a shotgun wedding. Can't blame them. And there's a lot of sympathy for their cause. But there also are a lot of big, honkin' mortgages out there. People who have sunk their life savings into real estate don't like to hear talk about giving their homes to indigenous populations.

So, if anyone asks you how you feel about annexation, point to the ocean and say, "Hey! Is that a porpoise?"

The main way to enjoy Hawaii is to learn to relax. We have a phrase for it: "Hang loose." And it means something almost completely different than it would in the White House. You can hang loose in Hawaii with your pants up. In fact, it's encouraged.

Mainland haoles like you, and I mean that in a good way, tend to be a little confused about how to hang loose. Wearing shorts is good. Wearing shorts along with a white shirt, sports jacket and black loafers without socks is bad.

The other thing to keep in mind is the sun. I know you are kind of preoccupied with global warming and all that. But let me tell you, global warming isn't going to be your problem if you walk around unprotected. Wear the strongest sunblock you can find. I always suggest the stuff they put on the bottom of the space shuttle to keep it from burning up when it re-enters the Earth's atmosphere.

Funny thing is, it's sometimes hard to tell whether you are getting sunburned. Here are a few clues: If a guy comes up and lights a cigarette off your forehead, you've probably been out too long. If your Mai Tai bursts into flames when you touch it, you may be getting toasty. If your zoris melt and adhere to the pavement, you might need to go inside for awhile.

There's lots to see here. Like the ancient Hawaiian shrines called heiau. If you visit one, don't stand on top of the stones whistling the theme to "Hawaii Five-0." That's uncool. There are some Chinese temples here, but you'd better steer clear of them. You don't need that kind of photo op.

Make sure you try some of our exotic food. It can be confusing. For instance, a "manapua" is a steamed bun filled with sweet pork, while "Mapunapuna" is a neighborhood over by the airport. If you order a big, steaming platter of Mapunapuna, people will think you're a dork.

I suggest you take a little time to learn pidgin. It's Hawaii's version of Ebonics and it's better than that legalese you've come to depend on.

For instance, if the special prosecutor asks if you solicited campaign funds from the White House, you say in pidgin:

"Ho, brah, that's one shaka question. Da kine, I like answer, but, my cousin's bruddah's auntie, she one lawyer, eh? And she wen' tell me, take da fif'. I said, brah, I no more fif', but I get, da kine, one six pack Primo, can handle, or what?

If the prosecutor threatens indictment, say, "Freakin' haole, you like me broke your face?"

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802

or send E-mail to charley@nomayo.com or

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