“You like small kine?”
“Mmm, lookin’ good, cuz. . .”
The pidgin murmurs of anticipation. The smells of skewered chicken, steak and peppers. The smoke from burning Hawaiian wood. It all hovers above the barbecue before drifting about the yard and mixing in with laughter and the shrieks of small children, floating up into a saturated blue sky. Below, a host of North Shore legends — names like Ho, McNamara and Budroe — chuckle, taking turns watching the grill and the next generation.
“Go ask Auntie to clean you up!”
A tiny toe-headed girl dashes over and tugs a 12-year-old’s skirt. The auntie sighs before showing the toddler how to use a handful of ice as a napkin while a dozen more tykes twirl underfoot. At the center of this blitzkrieg of balloon tosses and blow-up play pens is a tan, recently turned two-year-old named Noah Beschen who giggles and laughs as he runs between fawning family members. But nobody — nobody — is enjoying the celebration more than his dad, Shane, one of the two gangly, blond — dare we say — adults in charge of the pinata.
As Shane pulls on the rope, Uncle Gavin lines up a conveyor belt of “keikis,” arming each one with a broomstick before sending him into battle. In between fits of hysterics they watch the wee ones slowly dismantle the candy-stuffed Tickle Me Elmo until it’s nothing but a torso of hemorrhaging Tootsie Pops and bubble gum. As kids swarm in like Keystone paramedics carrying away everything but the patient himself, the brothers, slightly worn from their mission, relax with a smile that broadcasts comfort, familiarity and — most of all — appreciation. They may be thousands of miles from their beloved San Clemente, but surrounded by such an extended family, they’re as happy and at home as a Hawaiian Brady Bunch.
“As long as I’ve been around, I can’t remember too many California kids being adopted by the Hawaiian families like Shane and Gavin,” figures the boys’ father Mike Beschen. “I think it’s because of the respect they have for people and appreciating people for what they are.”[For more on the brothers Beschen, check our Surfing Profile in the April issue of SURFING — on newsstands now.]