C-Grade Localism

Setting: Banyans in Kona, late 2008. Banyans is like the Lowers of the Big Island, the spot everybody writes off because of the crowd but then goes there anyway. It’s very consistent and terribly easy to get to.


Walking out to the jump-off point the other day I was accosted by a young man of about my age and build, but considerably more Polynesian. I’m no percent Polynesian (I think that’s why he didn’t like me).


“Ho, where you going?” he asked.


I thought a second. “Hell, I suppose. I haven’t been to church since I was four and I routinely associate with gays. I even support their marriage. Also, I steal Wi-Fi access from an open network almost every day. So hell – hell is where I’m going.”


No, no, I didn’t say it (though it’s unequivocally true). I just kept walking, but the guy wasn’t as done with me as I was with him, and he stepped ahead to say, “Nah, not out here.”


By way of explanation I offered, “I’m from here.” Only I said it with the kind of aplomb you’d use if you were hassled at a chocolate store and your last name were Hershey. As in, “Fred HERSHEY, who the hell are you?”


Now here’s the part that bothers me: it worked. The kid was suspicious and asked where I lived specifically – a place called Napo’opo’o, which is apparently damn near impossible to pronounce for foreigners – but after that he was  satisfied and quite friendly. What sort of special olympics localism is that? If you’re going to go out of your way to intimidate somebody, you’ve got to set the bar higher. I surf Banyans whenever I’m home, which is to say not once in the last six months, but I’m definitely not a local. If you want to keep riffraff like me out of your homebreak then for goodness sake, take off the high heels and throw a punch. I didn’t even surf. I was that disappointed. 


This wasn’t worth writing about.