The great state of Hawai’i became a state when I was three, on August 21, 1959, along with its cold buddy, Alaska, which became a state on January 3 of that year. That would make them Irish twins, like my brothers Jim and Kip. Irish twins, of course, are two kids born within twelve months of each other, although that would make Hawai’i a preemie, because it and Alaska are only eight months apart. I admit it, I’m weird.
Hawai’i is an archipelago in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, made up of eight islands: O’ahu, Hawai’i (also known as The Big Island), Maui, Kaua’i, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Ni’ihau, and Kaho’olawe. When I was taking geography in grammar school, I was given to understand that the only one that was populated was O’ahu. I don’t know why I thought that, but hey, I was nine, okay? Maybe it was because the only island we ever talked about was O’ahu. I don’t even know if my fourth-grade teacher was a college graduate.
I’ve only ever been to Honolulu, the state capital and biggest city, and Waikiki, the suburb that has all the beaches and tourists, mostly from Japan. I left late on Saturday afternoon to come home, and before I went to the airport I went to Pearl Harbor and accidentally almost drove into the Naval base. I apologized to the petty officer that stopped me, but he was real nice and got me to the USS Arizona Memorial. He said don’t sweat it, it happens a lot.
Being at the Memorial, with the wall containing the names of all the sailors and Marines who died in 1941 and with the boat ride out to where the Arizona and her crew rest in eternity, was a moving experience. It’s amazing how many Japanese visit the memorial and show their respect for the men who died that day.
There’s an anchor there from the Arizona, standing on display. It must be twenty feet high. As I was getting ready to leave, a Japanese girl, probably in her mid-teens, came up and asked me to take a picture of her and her friends in front of the anchor. She was very polite, so how could I resist? I took a couple of pictures of them, and went to hand the camera back to the girl. She said, “You stand there, I take picture.” I tried to beg off, but she insisted, as did her friends. So, I stood with her friends and she took a couple of pictures of us. Why, I don’t know. All I know is that somewhere in Japan there’s a picture of a very confused guy in an aloha shirt standing with half a dozen Japanese girls.
Ever been to Hawai’i?
from The Sound of One Hand Typing