Coconut Willee: Bodies Beautiful at Waikiki

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BY J. ARTHUR RATH III – “Being here makes me smile,” Willee said as we strolled along the shore in Waikiki’s Kapiolani Park. (What’s in and what’s out of women’s bathing suits brings him cheer.

He winked and continued: “Bless ’em all: the long, the short, and the thin–even when gravity slips in.”


“Willee, Bikini bathing suits started here just after World War too and encouraged us both to grow up. I remember the front page of a now defunct Honolulu paper featuring a visitor almost-within this new discovery! A French designer (Louis Reard) named his skimpy invention after the site in Micronesia, where atomic bombs were tested. Brazilian stylists have gotten into the act.

See that shiny lady with some of her self in one? She’s been waxed, another form of Waikiki styling.

“Move aside, Willee, here comes Fred Lava Rock.”

“This bulky man trots along for four to five miles while carrying a 150-pound rock on his shoulders. I asked and he said he does it four times a week, “Keeps me in shape,” he said, “costs me nothing, unlike gym visits,” then smiles as he chugs along.

“In the clearing just beyond us, early in the morning, younger buff versions in black army uniforms do calisthenics for an hour or so. These U.S. Army young men and women shout out cadences as they exercise.

“Maybe twice a week, on the sand, near volley ball courts, local men and run short sprints on command, then drop down to do push
ups, and run back as wave after wave of runners take their place. It is like watching a Merry-Go-round. I asked the young man
doing the yelling what this was all about. ‘They’re trying to keep in shape,’ he answered in a deep Southern drawl. ‘They come here
after work.'(I go to Tiki’s for Happy Hours or to Lulu’s for Happy Hour.)”

Since Willee and I can count to three, we?ve helped give Tiki’s some exclusivity when it is time for libation. Most every Waikiki bar advertises “Happy Hour” but since Tiki’s lasts from 2 to 5 we suggested they advertise this as “Happy Hours” They do and their proper grammar (two or more is plural) has given them an exclusive.

“This exclusive may last until other bars learn that Proper English is good for business,” Willee added. “If that happens maybe more people will find bargain-priced happiness in Waikiki lasting for more than an hour.”

“Yes, Willee, but happiness abounds in Waikiki even without drinking spirits. Notice the smiling people walking hand in hand alongside the park? Men and women old and young, gaiety shared by those of the same sex, grandparents and children–person who can’t walk glide along in motorized chairs?

“I saw Linda the Bird Lady today,” Willee remarked. For 20 years she has been bringing four Cockatiels and her Macaw bird loves to talk to tourists. The chatty Macaw makes park mynah birds seem shy.”

“I’ll tell you about Kevin, before going home, Willee. He works as a groundskeeper at the university, picks plumeria blossoms, rides down on his bicycle and makes lei over there by the entrance to Lulu’s. He’s been doing it for 20 years, sells his fresh lei for $5 to $7. They would cost twice or thrice that at the Airport.

“At one time he was hustled by police, but managers at ABC and Lulu’s, near where he sits, said “We like his local color. Doesn’t cut in on ABC’s sales of plastic leis.

Willee answered, “Yeah Dr. George Kanahele once urged bringing local lei makers to Waikiki to sell real flower leis made here, instead of imported plastic from Asia.

“Oh, by the way, T-Shirts with ‘Abercrombie and Fitch’ in black letters on the front are real popular now among some of the homeless. They place a piece of black tape over the F to turn it into a B. This expresses their opinion about Governor Abercrombie shoving them out of sight before a big incoming convention.”

I did not say out loud the word tape helped them concoct.

“Yeah, Willee, but who, save for Father Bob who hands out sandwiches, listens to the homeless. They are a social problem, but I’m just not sure that shoving them out of sight is the solution. But a “B” before the “ITCH” is freedom of speech for those being chased from the beach.