I’ve lived here in Hawaii my whole life. I’ve never had the experience of college abroad or a long summer in the mainland. So everything that I know and how I live my life is my normal. It’s not until I meet people who are not from here, that I see myself in a different light, especially when they laugh at some of the phrases I use or some of the crazy things I do.
In Hawaii we are a melting pot of race and culture. It is not unlikely that someone born and raised here will have 3 or more nationalities. I am a mix of Hawaiian, Filipino, Portuguese, French, Irish and German.
Here are some interesting things about growing up as an island girl…
The way we speak and the things we say may not make sense to those not from here.
I was always raised to speak correct English, but with my uncle’s and cousins and kids at school, of course sometimes I say things like…. “Last night we were talking story” meaning “Last night we got together and were chatting and catching up on life”. Saying “rubbish can” instead of “garbage bin”, “stink eye” for “dirty look”, and “ice box” for “refrigerator”. But honestly… I do speak very good English considering that this is what I grew up hearing…
“If can, can. If no can, no can” = If we can do it, we’ll do it. but if we can’t, we won’t
“you like ____?” = Do you want to _____?
“Any kine” = Anything
“Broke da Mouth” or “Ono” = delicious
“Bumbye” = eventually
“Choke” = plenty
“give ‘um”= go for it!
“Hana hou”= do it again
“k-den” = ok, alright
“pau” = done
“try”… this is one we use for everything, like we didn’t know how to do anything. My papa always said “try get the remote”, “try grab me a beer”, “try come”, “try wait” etc.
A typical get together includes aunties, uncles, around 20 cousins and just as many nieces and nephews. A baby luau, graduation party or wedding will have up to 400 people and that’s after cutting out close to 100 people because the venue size.
Every day there will be fresh rice in the rice pot and mac salad in the refrigerator.
Poi needs Poke like poke needs poi! Which leads to….
Beef Stew will only be eaten with poi and poke. If there’s no poi or poke we will not be eating beef stew.
Sundays are for BBQ-ing.
A typical porch will look like mine…. slippers all over the place. No slippers or shoes in the house!
Dress up attire is Aloha Wear.
Everyone older than you is “Uncle” and “Aunty” and friends that you grew up with are “cousins”. At the end of the day “we all family”.
A graduate on graduation day looks like this… (we already filled 2 garbage bags of leis at this point)
Directions are based on “mauka” (mountain) or “makai” (ocean) or even…. “ova dea” (over there).
When the party is over everyone stays to clean up.
Football games at Aloha Stadium.
No racism. I’ve never experienced racism growing up… everybody jokes about everybody and no one takes it personally.
When you visit family or when family visits the first thing you stay is “come inside, are you hungry? There’s juice in the ice box”
Once a man gets home the shirt comes off and the beer cans go in the freezer.
All of our cousins stuffed into the back of a pickup truck on our way to the beach. This is of course illegal now. Just another reason to blame our elders for the way we are today. We like to say “Remember the time you put all our lives in danger”
We all got “lickens” (slapped) when we’d “ack up” (didn’t behave).
Going to the gas station to get spam musubi and hawaiian sun juice for a 20 minute loooong car ride.
When ever you meet someone one of the first things you ask is “What school did you graduate from” and it always means “high school”
The once a year 50th State Fair…. for some people this is the closest experience to Disneyland, which in actuality could never compare.
When you want to date someone you always need to find out their last name, their parents names and even their grandparents names just to make sure you’re not related.
These are just some things that I’ve experienced my whole life. Hope you enjoyed.