Look dat crazy guy on TV!
It may be impossible to fit human beings into distinct categories, but this may be the one measure that you can call like a switch: yes or no, on or off, pick me or leave me alone. People either really want to be on television or they really don't.
With the proliferation of locally produced television shows, you observe this behavior like watching birds. See the wide-ankled auntie ducking behind her bowl of saimin, pretending she doesn't know she's on the Jumbotron. See the loudmouthed shrieking uncle frantically wiggling two-hand shakas behind the announcer's head. Dat crazy guy.
That's the distinguishing factor. The ones who really want to be on TV don't mind being thought of as "dat crazy guy." In fact, that's the look they're going for. They'll stand behind the service line at Wahine volleyball games jumping like they have a snake down their shirt and yelling urgent but unintelligible things. Blaaaaaah! Look at me!
Eh, eh, eh, we go make shaka to be at the end of the news! Going be cool! Everybody going see us!
Trouble is, only one station does the shaka thing, but that doesn't stop the shaka-ers, who will wiggle thumb and pinkie at the City Council public access cameras if somebody doesn't stop them with a dirty look.
Those who duck and cover at the first sight of a video camera can't understand this. Somebody might see you! You not shame?
Sometimes you see the bad-influence uncles encouraging kids to act silly for all of Hawai'i to see, forming chubby fingers into baby shakas, showing the kids how to eat slushies and then show blue tongue, teaching the proper "cheeeee-haaaaa!" techniques. Bad uncle, bad.
Still, either category you find yourself in, there are certain rules for everyone.
You don't want to get caught eating certain things behind Jim Leahey's head. Like nachos. Or saimin. Or anything so salty or sticky that you have to lick your fingers to clean them off. That is universally shame.
If you have a sign to wave, everything should be spelled correctly, pretty much. The most common mistake you see is the strange compunction so many people have to put an apostrophe before every "s" that ends a word or name. If the Smith family is in the house, the sign should not say "Smith's are in the house." If it's the Joneses, that's different. You write "Jones-dem stay."
It should go without saying that you don't want to get caught in the generic street-scene video that television news uses to illustrate health stories about obesity or fashion faux pas.
But these days, the rules are so different. It's not about wanting to appear in the best light. Acting silly can get you beyond the boundaries of local broadcasts. It can get you viral on YouTube — and there are those who believe that's an accomplishment.
Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at 535-8172 or firstname.lastname@example.org.