Hawaii is a paradise in many ways, notwithstanding the occasional tropical storm or even an awful hurricane every twenty years of so. In particular, it’s the people here who make it so endlessly different and interesting. Our governor, Neil Abercrombie, is fond of saying that our diversity doesn’t divide is, it defines us. The fact is, everyone who lives here belongs to a racial minority. That, all by itself, is pretty interesting.
I’m not sure why, but that may also be one reason why Hawaii seems to attract more than its allotted share of both odd and interesting people. And grifters and drifters, too, although that was probably more the case before 5-hour jet flights and the internet made Hawaii seem a lot closer to the mainland. We’ve always had a lot of celebrities here, too … both full- and part-time residents like Oprah and Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson, as well as those who come on vacation.
I’m not sure what it is, but most of the famous people who show up here are a lot more relaxed when it comes to mingling with the locals than they would be in a mainland city of comparable size. And we do tend to give them some extra space.
Jacqueline Kennedy was in Honolulu not more than three or four years after her husband was assassinated. Before she arrived, one of the local papers suggested in an editorial that it would be nice if we all just left her alone. She visited the local art museum when I was doing its public relations and remarked to the director that she thought Honolulu seemed to be a bit aloof … and was quite touched when she was told the real reason.
Another thing I can’t really explain: local people are inclined to give their kids somewhat unusual names, probably to set them apart, because there are a lot of very common surnames. Some are funny and many are inventive, but it’s going to be a long time before I come across one that tickled me more than the name I saw on a badge worn by a young woman at a check-out line a few weeks ago: ROCKSANNE.
Newcomers here can be awfully irritating sometimes. It’s probably true that Hawaii attracts more than its fair share of wealthy people, but why is it that some of them think that because they’re rich, they must therefore be smart? For instance, someone like the guy who made a pile in the stock market, buys a magazine and immediately starts telling experienced editors what to do … then blames them when the magazine folds.
And why is it that some people move to Hawaii from the mainland and immediately begin publicly criticizing how we do things? Here on Maui, the criticism is often about the 150-year-old practice of burning sugar cane fields before harvesting. Typically, it comes in the form of a letter-to-the-editor of the Maui News, overflowing with indignation and signed …
John and Mary Smith
Kihei – Santa Barbara
Trying to impress us with the fact that they own two homes really doesn’t work. We just write them off as a couple of typical “coast haoles” who are probably only here for a month or two every year and who will never ever understand what it is about Hawaii that is so special. So unique. So damn near perfect.