101 – familiar? What comes to mind when that particular number is mentioned? Dalmatians? Right. It holds a special meaning here on the Islands as well. The land of sun, surf & bikinis – Hawaii’s island of Oahu. 101 will also play another significant part, as I would later come to learn.
What other place can you say that as soon as you get off the plane, you get lei-ed? To the natives what’s better than a nice set of waves in the afternoon or a Marley concert? SPAM. Yes Spam. Not the junk mail classification. This Spam has been around much longer and I believe will outlast my P.B. & J. – the luncheon meat in the little blue can with the bright yellow name logo. Spam. 101 ways to cook it – my first exposure to true local life on the Island.
Generally the term “haloes” refers mostly to “white” non-native persons. But even though I am a “mainlander,” my brown Asian skin fails me. What will this self-sustaining nation state that was once an integral part in introducing the United States to the world hold for me? Let me count the ways.
The word aloha means hello and goodbye – you’ve already been where you are going. Hawaii – where the minority (Asians) is the majority and where white America is the minority. Then there is “the Man” in charge.
Aloha Fridays means a half day’s work for a full day’s pay. It makes T.G.I.F. sound a little ordinary and sober. Although weekends still exist here, they’re not exactly missed as one can catch a wave, have a cocktail to a steel drum band for lunch while working on a tan.
On the darker yet hilarious side, local prostitutes are trilingual and on the hunt for tourist Japanese men – proof that there is a universal language. ABC liquor marts at every block sell the same postcards. A one-hour drive to the other side of the Island is a dreaded cross-country trip for the locals.
Saimin means noodles with Spam served at every McDonald’s. Food trays are not provided because they serve a more ingenuous purpose for the kids, as boogie boards. Hang 10 dude. The policy of – no shirts, no shoes, no service – would probably end your business before it started.
Where else would every movie in every theater be sold out every opening week. Every movie. Yes, even for tankers like Crossroads & GiGli. An all-night, bar-hopping event can be followed by a morning wake-up call by seagulls on a beach – no harm, no foul, no memory.
Breakfast in the afternoon at Denny’s consists of bacon, eggs, Spam steak washed down by a Mai Tai. The local language, pidgin, is about as hard to understand as the natives’ sense of being on time for anything except for a good wave. Last, but certainly not least, there are three interstate highways on the Island. I think they’re working on connecting to California.
C’mon in the end, life here takes its own memorable character. The many differences and learning are what makes it enjoyable. For the many ways that Spam is prepared, we all put our pants on one leg at a time. Makes the world a smaller place. 101 ways – How do you like your Spam?