Thursday, December 24, 2009


Warning: If you’re currently being blanketed by a snowstorm, you might want to skip this story.

As disgusting as this sounds, there are times when Californians pine of a place ever nicer than where we currently live. Tone deaf to how this sounds to folks, who, for six months or more a year, are condemned to shoveling snow off their driveways – while snow continues falling at the same time – Californians yearn for a spot with better weather, whiter beaches, even greater natural beauty and a bluer, more sparkling ocean. And believe it or not, the place actually exists.

It’s called Hawaii.

Hawaii is California for Californians. What California are to the rest of the country, Hawaii is to Californians. The Better Place. The upgrade begins at the Honolulu airport. You make your way down the open walkway to “Baggage Claim”, and your nose immediately tells you you’re not in Santa Monica anymore. The welcoming breeze, heavy with surprisingly not-oppressive humidity, smells like flowers.

Flowers they only make in Hawaii.

America’s history with this tropical paradise is definitely, uh…not its proudest moment. I watched this show on PBS once, telling the story of how, one night, the U.S. Navy landed on Oahu, to “protect American citizens” they claimed were in danger but who were, in fact, asleep in their beds, and well, we never left.

When informed that the military presence was also meant to protect her from her enemies, the then Hawaiian queen, inquired, “Then why are your cannons pointed at my palace, instead of in the other direction?” I suspect this was taken as a rhetorical question, since the navy’s answer was never recorded.

Because of this rather shameful land grab, ever since our first visit, I’ve instructed our children to say to every Hawaiian they run into, in the most subdued and respectful tones they can muster, “I’m sorry we took your island.”

I want the Hawaiians to know we know. And that if we’d been consulted in the matter, it would never have happened. Though, in truth, I really can’t imagine the Secretary of the Navy saying, “We’re planning to take over Hawaii. See what the Pomerantz’s think about that.” They didn’t ask us about Iraq either. I just want the Hawaiian people to know, if they’d asked us, we’d have vetoed the idea.

I’d actually prefer Hawaii to be a foreign country. I think if it were, it would feel less like Encino.

There’s a lot to do in Hawaii – hiking, horseback riding, windsurfing, snorkeling, riding the gnarliest waves on the planet. Our family does none of those things. Our basic plan is to get hold of some lounge chairs, sit on the beach, and do nothing. On rare occasions, we interrupt our inactivity with a quick dip in the ocean, generally venturing up to our ankles. Then it’s back to our lounge chairs, to do nothing some more.

Once, I visited the hotel bar, intending to order a pina colada, but mistakenly ordering a considerably stronger Mai Tai instead. Since the Mai Tai cost seven-fifty, I drank it anyway, getting tipsier than I intended. That’s the most exciting thing that ever happened to me in Hawaii.

(Except for the time I was almost carried out to sea.)

Writing about Hawaii reminds you of its easygoing, “Hang Loose” mentality, and before you know it, you really don’t feel like writing anymore. Then you don’t feel like talking anymore. And then…(BIG YAWN)…

I think I’ll go lie down.
My family and I are hitting the Big Island of Hawaii for the holidays. I have left some Hawaiian-themed shticklach (little pieces) to tide you over.

I’ll see you when we get back. In the meantime, mele kalikimaka (Merry Christmas) and hau’oli makahiki hou (Happy New Years).


Paloma said...

Have a great time in Hawaii and Merry Xmas and Happy New Years to you too!

Brian Scully said...

Merry Christmas, Earl or as they say on the tropical island Vanuatu, "Merry Christmas, Earl"... they're quite well versed in English, they are.

Max Clarke said...

I could move to Hawaii if they had fog. I may be a Californian, but I've grown attached to fog in the Bay Area. It's very beautiful. I even recall the first time I woke and walked out into the fog. This wasn't the sunny California I had heard so much about, but now it's one of my favorite things about the state.

Ned said...

Life without snow or chilly days in which I need to bundle up is my version of hell.

As much as I swore under my (visible) breath today, I must say I love how winter brings out the hardy man-pioneer in me. Looking out on Christmas Eve to a dark evening illuminated by snowflakes... well, that makes my holiday more than that infant dude everyone's going on about.

Still, a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Years, even if your ecozone doesn't provide the true spirit of the season.