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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 5, 2002

You know you're a malihini starting to turn local when ...

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Columnist

Every couple of months, a new one will show up in your e-mail inbox — one of those "You know you're local if..." lists.

  • You know you're local if you still call the Blaisdell Center the "HIC."
  • You know you're local if you're barefoot in most of your elementary school pictures.
  • You know you're local if you say "bath" for shower and "parlor" for living room. (You know you're local from a Neighbor Island if you say "bafe" for bath and "pala" for parlor!)

Stuff like that.

The only problem with those lists is they're made for people who have no doubt that they're local. If you remember Checkers and Pogo, if you remember li hing mui before you could buy the powder separately, and if you can still sing the Exchange juice song, you pretty much know you're local already. You don't need the validation. Those lists are for entertainment purposes only, eliciting happy nods of recognition rather than gasps of self-revelation.

But what about the people who didn't grow up here, but who have put in some serious time and effort to understand and adopt the culture?

When do they know they've turned the corner to local-ness? How can they tell when they've passed major milestones?

There oughta be a list for them, for the ones who aren't sure.

The list would be comprised of stuff like:

  • You know you're turning local when you no longer think eating rice for breakfast is strange.
  • You know you're turning local when you say the word "pau" so often that you forget what it means in English. Pau is pau.
  • You know you're turning local when, even though you hate seafood, you love poke cuz' that's different.
  • You know you're turning local when you go to the beach and aim for the shade. People from cold places sit in the sun. Locals set up the coolers, fold-out chairs and goza in the shade. Extra local points if you bring along your own blue tarp to string between poles and a couple ironwood trees.
  • You know you're local when you can use the words aloha and 'ohana in a sentence without making it sound like there are quotations around them. For example:
    • Not local — The goal is for us to function as a real "ohana"... to treat each other with the spirit of "aloha."
    • Local — Bryson-guys was there with the whole 'ohana. His auntie-them said for send their aloha to you folks.
  • You know you're local when you cringe at fake pidgin and when you get mad at bad Hollywood portrayals of Hawai'i.

And here's the big one: You know you're local when you get irked by people who act too "Mainland."

Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at 535-8172 or lcataluna@honoluluadvertiser.com.