Honorary Hawaiian… The Bro Hug
I am truly grateful. I feel I came a long way last night. As I have mentioned before, my vision of moving to Hawaii is something like a Hollywood movie. I arrive. I learn the native language, their customs, their dance, their chants. Then the king comes down and greets me as one of their own. Their after I am Hawaiian. I learned that I can never be Hawaiian, because I have no Hawaiian blood in me. I then settled for being a “Resident of Hawaii.”
I was helping my brother sell the amazing jams he creates. Keeping in the Spirit of Aloha, samples are always aloha meaning we give expecting nothing in return. We give because we can. We give because it is pono. Having said that, there has still been some hesitation from the locals in meeting and striking up a conversation out of the blue. Right or wrong, I am judged for my skin color. I am haole. So when a group of locals were passing by I greeted them properly, “Aloha.” They responded in kind. I joked with them for a minute and asked them if they like chocolate. The young women said, “Do you know a woman who doesn’t?” I casually picked up the Hawaiian Cacao Butter and offered them a sample. They, like everyone, melted. I told them I know I can’t just ask locals if they would like to try some Lilikoi jam. I said I know everyone’s Auntie makes a lilikoi jam or butter. I shared with them how I knew I needed to impress the heck out of them with something truly unique. So I asked them if they had tried the Kona Coffee Coconut Butter. They hadn’t. Upon trying it I could tell the young women were in for whatever I was offering. The guys were still hanging back a little. They loved the jams but they were not going to let down their guard so easily. I am haole after all.
We moved on through a few more flavors, Tahitian Lime Ginger, Lychee, Poha, Jaboticaba, even the Passion Fruit Jalapeño jam. At one point I heard one of the guys ask, “Eh, is dis your longboard?” referring to the longboard skateboard my wife purchased for me for Christmas. I replied, “Yes. It is.” He responded, “Nice board,” with a tone denoting he was impressed that an older guy like myself would own and still be riding.
In the end one of the women decided she wanted to purchase 3 jams. I suddenly remembered something truly special. I told them “Wait. Before you finish, you have to try one more. It’s something truly special.” Their curiosity had been aroused. They asked, “What is it?” I pulled it out of its private refrigerated hiding place and told them, in a hushed tone, “It’s Blackberry.” Now to you this might not be a big deal. You can go to your local grocery store and find most berries throughout the year. What you can’t find though is tropical fruit year round. In contrast, for locals who have never been off the island except to go to Oahu, another Hawaiian island, having homemade organic blackberry jam is the most amazing flavor in the world. When anyone tries our passion fruit jams, they are impressed. When a nonresident tries it is an experience beyond description. Imagine a sweet flavor explosion which touches your soul and let’s you know you are loved. That is what these tropical fruit jams do to people. That is what this blackberry jam did for these locals.
They decided to purchase the blackberry jam as well. Since it was my last jar and no idea when we would have more, I gave them the sample as well which was 3/4 full and the equivalent of liquid gold. They were so very grateful for the experience and the aloha shared that when they said goodbye, I received the royal treatment. We met as strangers and not friends. When we parted the women gave me the traditional Hawaii goodbye of a heartfelt hug and a kiss on the cheek. The guys gave me the bro handclasp with the pull-you-in bro hug. This is the greatest compliment they could have given to me. I feel very blessed and humbled. These people have huge hearts and are filled with so much love and passion for life and people. They have also gone through a lot watching their people and their culture dwindle away by the haoles. I feel blessed because I was treated as an equal and because I was able to touch their heart in such a short amount of time. I am humbled because I recognize my energy and my self, has grown so much since we first arrived on this island. I am humbled when I see my Hollywood version of moving to Hawaii coming true. Mahalo ke akua mai ko’u pu’uvai.