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Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Friday, October 13, 2000

Aloha lives on
bumpers of cars

Charles Memminger is on vacation. Following is one of his favorite columns from the early days of Honolulu Lite. This first appeared on Jan. 14, 1995.

I'M sitting here in the left lane of the Pali Highway stuck behind a car silly enough to be going the speed limit at 6:10 in the morning. The car has a bumper sticker that says, "Live Aloha" and right now, I hate the phrase.

I hate it mainly because the driver of the car it's stuck on refuses to yield to the growing line of cars behind him. He is going the same speed as the guy beside him, creating a rolling roadblock. It just goes to show you how hollow bumper-sticker philosophy is. I think if you insist on putting a bumper sticker on your car, you are honor-bound to live by whatever the bumper sticker says. And old "Live Aloha" here is not showing any aloha to anyone.

So with nothing to do but study this car's bumper for the rest of the trip into town, it occurs to me that whoever thought up "Live Aloha" for a bumper stickers sure didn't put much thought into it. It's too vague, to begin with. And it sounds like a command. My first reaction when I see an order to "Live Aloha" is "Make Me."

The author of that bumper sticker should have punched up the message a little bit, like, "Live Aloha, or Die," which has a Nathan Hale-ish tone. If you want something more hopeful and less hostile, you could say, "Live Aloha, Die Rich."

Which makes you wonder why there must be "Aloha" bumper stickers when there are so many better ideas.

Think of those rallying cries our country is famous for. Revolutionary War Minute Men didn't get up for battle by slapping a bumper sticker on their horses that said, "Live Independence." Instead, they had a dramatic flag decorated with a snake representing the colonies with the dire warning: "Don't Tread on Me!" That kind of a bumper sticker might work here: "Don't Tread on Aloha!" In sticking with that historical era, a Patrick Henry-ish bumper sticker might read: "I Regret That I Have Only One Aloha To Give to My Honda."

Or you could steal from another part of history and have a bumper sticker that says, "Aloha Right or Wrong." That's nonconfrontational. It's basically asking for complete dedication to the ideal of aloha.

SOMETHING with a little more teeth would be "Aloha. Live It or Lose It." That has a nice ominous ring to it.

Then again, maybe I was reading the "Live Aloha" bumper sticker the wrong way. Maybe it doesn't say "live" with a soft "i" as in "live and let live." Maybe it says "live" like in "Larry King Live."

If that's the case, other possibilities for improvement exist. We could use great lines from movies, like when Frankenstein's monster sits up for the first time. The bumper sticker would say: "Aloha. It's a-live!"

Or you could have a bumper sticker with a rock and roll kind of feel: "Ladies and Gentlemen! Live and In Concert: Aloha!"

The world of television commercials offers all kind of choices. How about, "Aloha. It Just Keeps Going and Going and Going."

Or, "Aloha. Never Leave Home Without It."

Finally, the "Live Aloha" car has changed lanes and gotten out of everyone's way. Suddenly cars are flying past both of us at a frightening pace. Which calls to mind another possible bumper sticker from the Civil War days: "Damn the Aloha. Full speed ahead!"

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

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