Seven Deadly Local Sins
The 21st Annual Honolulu Magazine Starbucks Coffee Hawai‘i Fiction Contest Grand Prize Winner
Eh braddah, you, sitting on da bench like one sloth, you on lunch break? I dunno you, but you like know someting? Dis secret, k. I not one lazy bum. Some people tink jus ’cause I cruise around here by Fort Street Mall, and my clothes little bit boddos, I gotta be one homeless derelict wit da kine mento problems. But I not homeless and I not one derelict. Da way I see ’em is I on break, kinda like you. I meditating and trying for divest myself of my sins. I wuz tinking, HO, get plannnny tings wrong wit Local people. We get sins up da yin-yang, da whole collection, brah, all 7 BIG ONES.
Local people is famous fo’ sloth. "Ah, bumbye I do ’em." "No werry, we stay on Hawaiian Time." Wassup wit dat? Tick tock, tick tock, da world moves on, buddy. Why we stopping? Of course we all like fo’ TINK we work hod. But das jus how we fool ourselves. Trust me, I know. We tink, oh we not lazy, only those three guys standing around da manhole watching da ODDAH guy working down da hole is lazy. But who we fooling? Nobody actually likes for "work." Ooooo, one full day of mental and/or physical exertion. Right on. Bring it on, BABEE.
I know get some people who say dey actually "enjoy" their jobs. I get one word for people li’dat-LOLO. Well, I guess might have couple-chree guys who like doing wot dey do-I would’ve liked my job too, if my job wuz for make business deals while playing golf at Wai’alae Country Club all day long. Those frickas is da exception. Dey’s not da proletariat. Me, you, same-same. I used to have one nice cushy desk job wit da state Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism. Used to work in one air condition office down at da old Hemmeter Building. Take lunch break, second lunch break, jus like one Hobbit. But nahting wrong. Das how wuz. I miss my job.
Nah, I no miss my job. You know how get so many jokes about state workers being lazy? You know how dat Bo Irvine joke about da slug following da state worker around all day long wen originate? I tink so all started back in da day, back maybe even before Territorial times wen da first guy wen say, "I no like do ’em, you do ’em." From dea, da ting wen catch on. And wuzn’t like da Tamagochi. Wasn’t no fad. Pretty soon, everybody wuz all like, "I no like do ’em, you do ’em. I no like do, ’em, you do ’em." And pretty soon wen form all kine chains and linkages wea da person on top wuz passing along da job to da person below who wuz passing along da job to da person even mo’ below, so on and so forth, until we had our whole system of government. So da way I figgah, we get around 334,536 guys doing da work of basically 16 hardworking people.
Wot school you? Me, young man time, I used to go Mid-Pac and we wuz all full-on guilty, prosecuted of lust. I jus going talk from da 38-year-old man point-of-view ’cause das da viewpoint of which I is most familiarize with. I remembah me and da boyz, wen no mo’ nahting fo’ do time, we jus used to sit around by da pool and talk about who we would do. "Oh yeah I would do her." "YEAH, I would definitely do her." Or, "Hell no, I wouldn’t do her-well, maybe if wuz little bit dahk."
And den, wen we went UH, da ting nevah die down, wuz even worse, ’cause had even mo’ potential do-ees. And now dat we older, it’s even worstest. Lotta my classmates still nevah change. Dey all working, get their own wives, couple kids and paying all their mortgages for their houses up Mililani Mauka side. So you would tink dat da to-do list is one ting of da past, but no. Back wen I still used to cruise wit dem, before Yamas wen go steal my wife and so I had to small kine broke his face, I wen notice dat da to-do conversations wuz still dea, jus little bit mo’ on da sly. ‘Cause shame, ah. You no like be labeled as da skebe old man. Even if das wot you is, you jus no like it be of public record. Back college time, da talk would be all brash, li’dat. We’d be all drinking at da party going, "I would do her, fock yeah!" But middle age man time hod fo’ make li’dat. Most of da time, no mo’ even TALKING involve. Guys jus make da eye big, turn da head, and ass da signal for da oddah guy see, and den two guys see, and den both nod their heads vigorously in agreement. As if dis is inconspicuous.
But I no like perpetuate da stereotype of da skebe ol’man, ’cause get planny horny wahines too. Especially da kine who attracted to men in uniform. Get some wahines, dey speed-up on purpose wen dey see one cop, hoping da cop going pull ’em over and let ’em off, get ’em off, I dunno, wotevahs. I heard one crazy wahine wen even set her townhouse on fire ’cause she saw one hot stud insai da Fire Foxes calendar, so she wuz hoping for one "chance" encounter. Now das messed up. But brah, no can blame. I used to could relate. Especially befo’ time wen I had one wife, but den she wen go dump me for Yamas and his frickin’ BMW.
It’s not dat Local people is especially hornier than da average human being. It’s jus dat we all live on top one island. And dis problem is only compounded by da fack dat everyting stay so expensive, cannot afford for go out. Jus gotta stay home and figgah out your own entertainment. So it’s kinda like Local people is FORCED to have sex. Not dat das one bad ting or anyting. I jus saying.
You know who da numbah one guilty of gluttony? YOU. Try look wot you eating. I know ’cause dat used to be my favorite, too. Das right, Spam musubi. You know how much Spam Local people consume? And fo’ make mattahs worse. Local people going consume even mo’ now, ’cause now we get Tulip. So dat means twice as much Spam-like substances. Wen people from da Mainland come Hawai’i, dey trip out. Spam is like ghetto people food to dem. To us it’s one staple. Can eat ’em for breakfast wit da eggs. Eat ’em for lunch in da musubi like da kine you get. And make da kine glazed spam wit da pineapples and eat dat for dinner.
I guess I exagerrating, but. ‘Cause it’s not really one staple. If we talking staple-staple den we talking about da grain. Local people need rice. Some like short grain Some like long grain. Some like da meejum-size grain. Get all kine rules, you know. For Local people, da rice cannot be yellow, orange or anykine colors. Da rice cannot belong to anybody’s uncle. If da ting come in one box den das automatic throw-way already. But once you find da perfeck rice, no can get enough. My friend’s faddah only goes to da Zippy’s WAIMALU ’cause he sez dey give MO’ rice. And not like das da closest one to his house. To me, I dunno if it’s worth driving one extra four, five miles for get little bit extra rice, but I guess for some guys, those 12 extra grains going make da difference. Local people do anyting fo’ rice. Dr. Terry Shintani, I tink so wuz him, wen go do one study and document dat Local people cannot survive witout rice. And I dunno if you read ’em in da papah. I tink wuz in da papah, but I heard dat last year 486 Local people died wen dey moved Mainland and dey couldn’t find rice.
You no remembah why you wen envy da popular people at your school, but you jus know dey had some kine "it" factor. You used to tink if you could get one of dem for like you, den you would be set. Wuz hard enough knowing dat, dat would nevah happen. But you remembah wot wuz da two worstest words one of dem could tell you? Remembah, how hurtful those two words could be? Remembah your first cafeteria dance? "Uh, Lanelle, I wuz tinking, I dunno maybe, if you wuzn’t tired, if you nevah have couple people lined-up already, and if da next song wuz to your liking, maybe, possibly, you might have da inclination for dance wit me?" And den of all da words for choose, she has for choose da two worstest words-YOU WISH.
"You wish" is worse than "no." At least "no" get dat ambiguity. Could be "no" at dis particular moment, but might be "yes" later on, depending on da circumstance, depending on da weather, depending on my mood. But "you wish" is like da Local eqivalent of "get real." "You wish" is like no, and no mattah how many times you ask, da answer still going be no, and I acknowledging dat I have da power for make your wish come true, but you ain’t getting it, so wish, wish all you like, and keep on wishing.
But das life in Hawai’i; Local people like for wish. My ex-wife wuz big time, li’dat. Da whole Ala Moana da upper middle part. Gucci, Fendi-das all for wishing. I acknowledge dat da last census wen show dat get 19 Local women who actually buy bags and stuff from ova dea, three of which is from da Big Island, and two is from Maui. But for da majority, das stuff das forevah going be YOU WISH. But Local wahine, dey very akamai. Dey not going lay down and be all in depression jus ’cause couple himakamaka stores toll dem YOU WISH. Local women get two words for counter back and say wop yo’ jaws. Da two words is SWAP MEET.
Try go do one anger check. I used to do dis all da time, back wen I had TV. I miss my TV. Go sit down watch Channel 2 news tonight and count how many times you get bent. You know at da end, if dey running late, dey might NOT SHOW da people making shaka. You know dat pisses you off! ‘Cause really, das da only reason why you watch da news in da first place. You like see if you know somebody. And wen no mo’ nobody you know, you get all salty-Brah, hakum no mo’ nobody I know? Dey know or wot, how for choose shaka-making people?
And you would tink we wouldn’t get mad at Joe Moore, ’cause him, he jus da broadcaster. All his job is, is to deliver da news. Not his fault bad tings happen. But try watch. See how you get mad at Joe, especially at da end ’cause he no do his You Ever Notice? deals anymore. Nowdays I tink he get da kine Observation Deficiency Syndrome so we gotta sit and listen to his boring trivia. But anyway, try go watch da whole ting and see if you no come like da Incredible Hulk. News you get mad. Sports you get mad. Weather you get mad. Weather is like double trouble ’cause not only you get mad at da weather, but da weather person too. Trini Kaopuiki sez going get sun. How many times she wrong? Even I can do her job. Even if I jus go guess any ol’ kine, I bet I could get ’em mo’ right than her. She tink she know da weather. Like she all dat. Jus ’cause she going weather school. Jus ’cause she know how read da scientific weather report. Jus ’cause she know wot da hell’s one frickin’ doppler radar. Ultimately she dunno.
Wea my phone, wea my phone? I no mo’ phone. Wea yo’ phone? I go dial da numbah right now. Hello, dis Channel 2 Action Line? I like file one complaint. Not only get lies on top your guys’ station, but get da kine deceptions too. Your weather anchor, Trini Kaopuiki, making like she know da weather. But she dunno, brah. You know why she dunno. ‘Cause only God know. And wot, who she tink she is? God?!
Everybody guilty of some little bit pride.We proud wot school we went.We proud of our special liliko’i chiffon cake recipe. We proud of da UH basketball team even if dis season hardly get Locals and get choke ringers from Croatia and who-knows-wea, but das all right, we still let dem represent. We proud of our childrens so we put da kine bumper sticker on top da car, "My Son is on the Honor Role at Noelani Elementary School." And dis to us seems like proudness, but to oddah people following behind our car, might seem like borderline bragging. But still it’s OK, still well within da accepted proudness tolerance levels of our Local society.
But every now and den we come across some people who get little bit too much pride. Oddahwise known as TANTARAN. You would tink dat models is da most vain, conceited people in da world, but I would haff to disagree. Why? ‘Cause I like models. I see da male models and I tink ho, if I buy those clothes, must going look good on me. I look at female models … and I look and I look sa’more, jus looking. But basically das how. Das their job. For make you look. It’s not like dey go ahhhh-ha, made you look. Well, get some li’dat kine down Hotel Street wea I stay, but we not talking about dat kine. Being one model, it’s one honest way for make one living. Models-dey’s not da perpetrators, dey’s da victims. It’s not their fault dat consumer peoples tink dey all handsome and beautiful.
Wen you get time, try check out da Sunday papah classifieds for da ultimate in tantaran. I tink so da most vain people in dis world … is REALTORS. It’s like some mornings dey wake up and dey go, GASP, I forgot for take one picture of da house. Ah, das okay, I go jus put one picture of my face instead. Should sell, ah? Now if you ask me, das a little bit conceited. To tink, you one realtor, not one model-wot makes you tink your face can sell anyting?
Rule of Economics sez it’s all about greed. Basic rule of economics is mo’ is preferred to less. Das why Hawai’i people like go Vegas. Dey play Black Jack, Wheel of Fortune jus for da chance, dey might win big money and get their picture insai da Hawai’i Winnahs in Las Vegas Newslettah. But tink, if you nevah went Vegas, how much money you’d save. Ho, how much rice you could’ve bought wit dat? Enough for feed one small nation, probably. Mind boggling, but everyting is mo’ is preferred to less.
I remembah one time, my ex-wife, she wuz eating one bag Maui Onion potato chip. So I tell her, "I like." So I stick out my hand and she gives me … ONE. So dea I stay, wit my hand still stuck out, looking at dat single potato chip, tinking ho, das cruel, brah. So I tell her, "Wow, das all you going give me, ONE?!" So she grabs my hand and and squeezes ’em closed, until I hear one loud CRUNCH. She sez, "Dea, now you get more than one," and she laughs. So you might tink, dat dis example breaks da rule ’cause dis time mo’ wuzn’t preferred to less. But no, da rule holds up, jus gotta change da perspective. ‘Cause by not giving me sa’more, she got for keep more, and therefore from her point-of-view, mo’ is preferred to less.
I know, dis puts tings in perspective, yeah? Take it from me, especially wen you lose everyting and you kinda forced to meditate like me; you get time for smell da Kona coffee, especially ’cause you cannot drink ’em anymore. Eh, you know, you kinda got me tinking now. I no really miss my coffee. And now dat I jus meditating and philosophizing, nobody can accuse me of being lazy ’cause not like I get any responsibilities. And how I can be lustful, no mo’ too much enticement around hea, especially aftah seeing some of da women-of-da-night up-close. Gluttony gone ’cause Salvation Army not like L&L, dey no give big portions. Anger all gone. No mo’ boss, no mo’ wahine, no mo’ nahting fo’ get all worked up about. No mo’ pride, ’cause not like I get any possessions-da ex-wife took ’em all. And no mo’ greed ’cause I tink so I finally happy wit having less.
Eh yeah, no? Wen you "have" you only werry dat some "have not" going steal all your stuff, but wen you no mo’ stuff like me, suddenly you empowered, superman brah, now everybody sked-a-you. I can tell from your initial look dat you wuz little bit sked-a-me, ah. But no werries. Chill. We’s cool. I probably going hit da beach aftah dis. If you like come, go come. No need go back work. Eh, if you still hungry we go catch some mutant shrimp down da Ala Wai. I wuz sked fo’ eat ’em too, but wen you hungry, you hungry. ‘Ono, you know. Fo’ reals. You should try.
Writer Lee Tonouchi has been entering the HONOLULU Magazine/Starbucks Coffee Hawai’i Fiction Contest since 1997. "I placed in ’97," he recalls. "I thought I was on my way, but it took me a lot longer than I thought."
Tonouchi refused to get discouraged-despite the fact that, he recalls, "a famous writer told me you’re never gonna win, you cannot win." Why not? Because Tonouchi is often called da Pidgin Guerrilla, having dedicated himself to promoting pidgin as literary language. "They said I’d be disqualified for writing pidgin."
Even though a couple of our judges do not in general like reading pidgin prose, they were won over by Tonouchi’s masterful use of the language. "A lot of pidgin prose is unreadable," said one, "but I feel even people who live in New York, say, would be able to understand and enjoy Tonouchi’s writing."
At 31, Tonouchi is an established Hawai’i writer. He teaches at Kapi’olani Community College, edits a journal called Hybolics and has published two books: Da Word, a short story collection from Bamboo Ridge Press, and a collection of essays, Living Pidgin, from Tinfish Press. Next month, Kumu Kahua Theater will debut his play Gone Feeshing.
Tonouchi still lives with his dad in ‘Aiea. "Writers no more money," he explains. At least, he’ll have $1,000, plus $500 in Starbucks gifts, for winning this year’s contest.