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Aloha, oy vey!
(How I spent a month in Paradise
and learned to live with the smell of
burning sugar cane)
by Mad Dog
this means is a well-kept secret, just like the Maui handshake and the fraternal finger
greeting, which Id love to describe but Im afraid if I do da local boys will
track me down, tie me to a surfboard, and feed me to the sea turtles.
|| Hawaii is
beautiful. Palm trees swaying in the tropical breeze, crystal clear blue water, Mai Tais
at sunset, and flattened toads every three feet. On Maui, it turns out, toads have no
natural enemies. Well, except cars.
One of the first things you notice when you go to Hawaii is the language. It only has
twelve letters and theyre all vowels. Someone should sell a few of them back to Pat
Interestingly, other than street names
there are only two words in Hawaiian: aloha and mahalo. Aloha is an
all-purpose word that means hello, good-bye, love, and "dont forget to tip
me". Mahalo means thank you. I think. Its a little confusing since you
see it everywhere, including the swinging flaps of the trash cans at Taco Bell which makes
me wonder if it might actually be Spanish for "Deposit Chihuahuas here."
The reason Hawaiian isnt spoken more
in the islands is because the missionaries tried to stomp it out, just like they did
walking barefoot, nudity (nude bathing is still illegal and enforced in Hawaii), and sex
in any position including their namesake, which even they didnt use. Or so they told
To get around this, native Hawaiians spent
hours developing their own variant language called pidgin, which is a combination of
Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, and bad English. Dats why da local boys talk about
having stuffs for do and da kine.
What sentences like this mean is a
well-kept secret, just like the Maui handshake and the fraternal finger greeting, which
Id love to describe but Im afraid if I do da local boys will track me down,
tie me to a surfboard, and feed me to the sea turtles which, by the way, are an endangered
species. That means theyre smart enough to avoid the tourists.
Of course I was the only one at the festival
eating Tahitian food. All the Hawaiians and Polynesians were chowing down on nachos, naaukake
(hot dogs), and me ke kili (chili dogs).
|| If you do get to
hear some real Hawaiian being spoken youll discover that its a very musical
language which is good, since Hawaiis only other musical contribution is the
ukulele, and its actually Portuguese. The best place to hear traditional Hawaiian
music is at hula demonstrations, which are held every 30 feet or 20 minutes, whichever
comes first. If you want to hear contemporary Hawaiian music, listen to radio station
KPOA. This is a fun radio station, partly because the DJs have names like Maia
In case you havent
listened to contemporary Hawaiian music lately, it mostly consists of songs about the
idyllic life on the islands. These are the Harlequin Romance novels of the music world.
The rest of the playlist is remakes of songs that should never be remade, like Mungo
Jerrys In the Summertime and anything by 10cc..
Amazingly, even though youre in
Paradise you still have to eat. But Hawaiian food is hard to find on Maui. Picture Paris
without baguettes, New York without knishes, or London with edible food. Hard to imagine,
isnt it? Yet on Maui its easier to find Japanese food, Korean barbecue, or
Jack in the Box than it is a Hawaiian restaurant. In fact there doesnt seem to be
one, though you can find laulau (stuffed ti leaves) at Azekas, pork luau at
the lunch wagon at Hana Bay, and Spam musubi (sushi) just about everywhere.
Thats right, in addition to having the most snorkle rental shops per capita,
Hawaiis also the Spam Eating Capital of the World.
Finding Tahitian food was easier, it was
right there at the Polynesian Tahiti Fete. The fafa (corned beef, luau leaf, and
coconut milk), Maiia (taro and banana), and ulu pua'a (corned beef,
ulu, and onion) were all delicious. I never realized corned beef was Tahitian, though it
makes sense when you realize the Lost Tribe of Israel actually ended up in Tahiti. This
was an easy mistake to make back then since AAA didnt exist so there were no
accurate Triptiks to Miami Beach.
Of course I was the only one at the
festival eating Tahitian food. All the Hawaiians and Polynesians were chowing down on
nachos, naaukake (hot dogs), and me ke kili (chili dogs).
far, the easiest place to find Hawaiian food is at a luau, where the centerpiece is a big
fat pigthe Hawaiian symbol of the tourist. The Old Lahaina Luau is fun. Contrary to
what you may think, theres a lot more to a luau than Mai Tais and a huge
buffetthere are the half-naked men and women dancing the hula.
with it! If you want to serve a real Hawaiian pizza you should put Spam and macaroni salad
|| At the Old
Lahaina Luau they wiggle their way through the history of the hula, from the rapid hip
movement of the Tahitian hula where they try to shake those damned little biting ants off,
to the sensual motions of the Hawaiian hula where they tell a story with their hands. Of
course since no ones watching their hands so they could be saying anything. I
personally enjoyed the "Id Rather Be Surfing" hula the most.
(To answer the question thats on
everyones mind: Yes, I did find out what they wear under their grass skirts. Kilts.
Just like the Supreme Court justices wear under their robes.)
Oddly, the luau buffet doesnt include
the one item you find on every lunch plate on Mauithe national dish, macaroni salad.
It was served with Japanese katsu. It was served with laulau. There were
even macaroni salad muffins at the coffee shop for breakfast. Just kidding. But I
guarantee there will be now that Ive given them the idea.
Some of the best food on Maui is Chicago
style pizza. And why shouldnt it be? If youre going to be a melting pot you
might as well melt some cheese, right? BJs Chicago Style Pizza serves big fat pies
on a scale that sits on your table so you can see how much youve eaten. Good idea.
That way at the end of the night you realize you ate 4 lbs. of pizza and look like
Takamiyama, the Hawaiian sumo wrestler.
BJs offers all kinds of toppings, yet
theres no Hawaiian pizza to be found. You know, the award-winning combination of ham
and pineapple you see on the mainland but nobody has ever ordered. Get with it! If you
want to serve a real Hawaiian pizza you should put Spam and macaroni salad on it.
impossible to spend any time in Hawaii without an endless loop of Spike Jones Hawaiian
War Chant playing in your head 24 hours a day.
|| There are a few
other things I discovered while on Maui:
- Theres no Hawaiian word for public transportation.
- There are no hula hoops to be found, not even on the male dancers who
get the women hooting and hollering at their pelvic thrusts, so much so that I expected
the women to start shoving money down the guys sarongs.
- Doing crossword puzzles eventually pays offI actually saw a
4-letter word for Hawaiian goose while I was there. Yup, the nene.
- The Hawaiian islands werent really formed from volcanic action,
it only looks that way. Theyre actually great big ant hills. And let me tell you,
the ants are still pissed that people settled there.
- Its impossible to spend any time in Hawaii without an endless
loop of Spike Jones Hawaiian War Chant playing in your head 24 hours a day.
- And Polynesian Paralysis (otherwise known as Island Inertia) sets in
two hours after you first take off your shoes and doesnt go away until three days
after your plane lands on the mainland.
Oh yeah. After a while you actually do get
used to the constant smell of burning sugar cane fields.
©1998 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Cut
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