BY J. ARTHUR RATH III – Toward the end of the day, during a time some call “Happy Hour.” I’m sitting at Lulu’s of Waikiki’s bar watching the New York Jets demonstrate why they’ll go far this year.
Nice gent to my left buys me a beer, I raise my hand (feebly) in protest and he says “No, I can tell they like you here. Have a beer.” (I am writing poetry about how Kamehameha was able to conquer the islands–for one of my “Being Menehune” books. A perspective not widely considered.)
My pal Freddy is sitting to his left. He wears his hair long–my son did that when he was a rock and roller guitarist. I didn’t shudder, he pleased his mother.
Freddy is from Upstate New York where I went to college when leaving here. His dad was one of those Iroquois Indian Guys who worked up high fearlessly, even when laying wires across the Niagara River, original source for America’s transmitted electric power. (It was someone else who crossed the Niagara on a tight wire, Fred’s dad laid lines.)
I like Freddy: we both cheer for Syracuse University’s sports teams and Lulu’s broadcasts them: football, basketball, lacrosse. Even though half-Indian he doesn’t catch on to nuances of cradling a lacrosse ball in a stick and suddenly shooting it like a bullet into a net.
Nice gent to my left tells me how much he’s enjoyed this place during his visit here: “Smart staff, good brew ‘n food, friendly.” Those are all things this place’s manager and Hawaiian Tourism hype types might like to hear.
I’m writing poetry and let him talk to the native. He leaves before a handshake or a hug, and now the story begins…
He’s out the door when Freddy looks down and sees his wallet lying on the ground.
“Gotta catch ’em,” frantic Freddy tells me and out the door he goes.
I’d been jabbering to Freddy about how the Jets train in Cortland, New York, a small town not far from Syracuse where their being has turned out into a mutual love affair. Nice people in a small community. Freddy lived in Upstate New York.
Freddy reappears. “Did you catch up with him,” I ask.
“Yes, he was at the end of the block. Without his wallet he wouldn’t be able to get on the plane and would be in real trouble not having identification, credit cards, or even cash.
“He gave me this,” Freddie told me. “This” was a $50 bill. “I said ‘No’ a lot. ‘Share my happiness with others,’ he answered.
“And he told me: ‘Yours is a real fine spot. Thank you again. You sure run fast I was about to get into a cab and I wouldn’t have been able to pay the driver.’
“I play on Lulu’s softball team, 50-year-old Freddie responded with a prideful gleam. Jackie, one of our players, usually gets hits and reaches first base, even though she’s only 80 pounds of dynamite.”
This story is like the Hawaii I knew when Kui Lee wrote about people here “In the beautiful days of my youth.” With attitudes like Freddy’s, incoming conference folks won’t want to leave.
[…] -Nice “Slice of Life in Hawaii” article by Hawaiian author J. Arthur Rath III. [Hawaii Reporter] […]
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