Overheard in Honolulu: A Grandmother and Her Granddaughter Share Dating Stories

We put two people in a room to talk story, then stay out of the way. This month we listen in on family members discussing the differences of dating in Hawai‘i, now and then: From the twist to Tinder.

  overheard love stories



Aloha Custino, 81, of Kapolei, met her late husband in the 1960s, a time filled with jam sessions (more on that later) and without internet or cellphones. Fast forward more than 50 years and the dating scene is much different for her granddaughter, Kayla Custino, 26, who recently moved to Kaimukī. The pair chat about all things dating in Honolulu: meeting through “the dumb machine,” how to tell when he’s serious and Tinder.


Aloha Custino: I met my husband at the bar. (It was Black Sands or Black Coral in Kalihi. I can’t remember.) We went on a first date, and guess what? I was shocked because he opened and shut my door!


Kayla Custino: Your previous boyfriends never do that?


AC: No! “Get in on your own,” and they’d slam the door. He was really one gentleman, and … he never yelled or swore. That’s why I tell [the kids], nobody swear, otherwise I’ll buss ’em.


KC: You’re not interested in my dating life, Grandma? You’re not interested in how I met my boyfriend?


AC: No, I’m not nosey. (pauses) OK, yeah. I’m curious how you guys met.


KC: (laughing) So, there’s this thing called Tinder.


AC: (looks shocked) What?!


grandma aloha

Aloha Custino. Photo: Courtesy of Kayla Custino



KC: It’s like online dating.


AC: (rolls eyes) Oh, for the love of Pete!


KC: Do you know what online dating is?


AC: Yes, you write on the dumb machine! Oh, your first boyfriend was so nice. I forgot his name, so I call him Henry because Henry is an easy name to remember.


KC: We were dating for eight years and you still don’t remember his name.


AC: I called him Henry.


KC: So, let me explain Tinder to you. You create a profile. And then you can see other people’s pictures. You can swipe right if you like them or left if you don’t. If you both swipe right, you can talk to each other.


AC: So, in other words, he wants to see if you got big boobs or no boobs. (sighs) I’d rather stay the old-fashioned way. [Back then] every weekend, a school had different dances at gyms.


More than 17,700 couples got married in Hawai‘i last year. The most popular month was May.


KC: Oh, school dances?


AC: No, a regular dance. They call it jam session. But the guy who’s on the machine, first thing he thinks about is he wants to jump in bed.


KC: You don’t think that’s what the guys at dances were thinking?


AC: No. I guess when you meet a person online, it’s a little fast. And then they start holding your hand and want to make out.


KC: When I met my boyfriend, we’d talk on the phone first. When I was comfortable, I’d go on a date. You like me make you a Tinder?



Kayla Custino. Photo: Courtesy of Kayla Custino



AC: (says sarcastically) I’m looking for rich man, and I’m not sharing. (rolls eyes) No, we never have such a thing in our days! I really don’t want to because [when Grandpa died in 2016], we had been married for 51 years, two months and six days.


KC: What kind of dates did Grandpa take you on?


AC: Our first date, we went to Waikīkī Theatre and saw the [1964] movie, A Shot in the Dark. We went dancing. We just drove around the island.


KC: How long were you and Grandpa dating before you got married? There was never a time when you weren’t sure if Grandpa was serious?


AC: I was 24, and we got married when I was 25. No, he was, because when we lived together, he bought me the ring.


KC: So, if I was dating … what would you tell me?


AC: Make sure he got money.


KC: But what about the respect?


AC: Yeah, and then after that, he better show you respect and love. Even if I don’t like the guy, as long as he treats you good and don’t swear at you, that’s good. Once you swear, you lose the love and respect for each other. Always remember that.