How You Know People
Are from Hawai‘i

based on the book
You Know You’re in Hawai‘i When …
by Don Chapman
illustrated by Roy Chang
(Mutual Publishing 2003)

(Click here for a translation if you’re not fluent in local pidgin — even if you are, you’ll find that trying to explain local customs make them seem even funnier!)

  1. They have separate circuit breakers for their rice cookers.
  2. Only NOW they know that cilantro is the same as Chinese parsley.
  3. They measure the water for the rice by the knuckle of their index finger.
  4. They know which market sells poi on which days.
  5. They know Char Hung Sut is closed on Tuesday.
  6. They can handle shoyu with green mango, li hing gummy bears, and raw egg on hot rice.
  7. Their refrigerators contain half-empty jars of mango chutney from the ’95 Punahou Carnival.
  8. The condiments at the table are shoyu, ketchup, chili peppeh watah, and kim chee. Also, Hawaiian salt.
  9. They go to Maui and their luggage home includes potato chips, manju, cream puffs, and guri guri for omiyage.
  10. They think the four food groups are starch, Spam, fried food, and fruit punch.
  11. A balanced meal has three starches: rice, macaroni, and bread.
  12. They know 101 ways to fix their rubber slippers, 50 using tape, 50 with glue, and one using a stick to poke the strap back in.
  13. They sometimes use their open car doors for dressing rooms.
  14. They wear two different color slippers together and they don’t mind.
  15. “Nice clothes” means a T-shirt without puka.
  16. They are barefoot in most of their elementary school pictures.
  17. They have a slipper tan.
  18. Their only suits are bathing suits.
  19. They drive barefoot.
  20. They have at least five Hawaiian bracelets.
  21. They never, ever, under any circumstances, wear socks with slippers or aloha shirts that match their wives’ muumuus.
  22. They still call the Blaisdell Center the HIC, and it’s Sandy’s, not Sandy Beach.
  23. They say “I going fo’ lawnmowah da grass,” when they mean “I’m going to mow the lawn.”
  24. They can understand every word Bu Lai‘a says.
  25. They have a sister, cousin, auntie, or mom named “Honey girl.”
  26. Someone in the family is named “Boy,” “Tita,” “Bruddah,” “Sonny,” “Bachan,” “Taitai,” “Popo,” or “Vovo.”
  27. They still chant “Ahanakokolele” when a friend or co-worker goofs up.
  28. They say, “shtraight,” “shtreet,” and “shtress.”
  29. They say “da kine,” and the other person says “da kine,” and they both know what “da kine” is.
  30. The “shaka” and the “stink eye” are worth 1,000 words.
  31. They’re shopping at Epcot Center at Disney World, and they may say something to their sister, and a complete stranger says, “You’re from Hawaii, aren’t you?”
  32. They feel guilty leaving a get-together without helping clean up.
  33. The idea of taking something from a heiau is unthinkable.
  34. They call everyone older than themselves “Aunty” or “Uncle” and they kiss everyone in greeting and farewell.
  35. They let other cars ahead of them on the freeway and they give shaka to everyone who lets them in. (And get mad if someone they let in doesn’t say thanks.)
  36. Their philosophy on time is “Bumbai.”
  37. They would rather drag out the compressor and fill that leaking tire every single morning than have to fix it.
  38. The only time they honk their horns is once a year during the safety check.
  39. If a child needs a home, they give him one. He or she becomes “Hanai.”
  40. They can live and let live with a smile in their heart.
  41. Their male best friends’ names are Wade, Max, Nathan, Darren, or Melvin.
  42. Own two types of slippers: da “good slippas” and da “buss-up/stay home slippas.”
  43. They do not understand the concept of north, south, east, and west, but instead give directions as Mauka, Makai, Diamond Head, and Ewa, and use landmarks instead of street names.
  44. The first thing they look for in the Sunday paper is the Long’s ad.
  45. They take off their slippahs before going into the house.
  46. You ask what year they grad and where they went grad, and then you say “eh, you know my cousin?”
  47. When it’s done they say “pau!”
If you didn’t completely understand everything above, then you’re probably a mainland haole [foreigner or caucasion, although common usage also includes anyone who doesn’t know how to act “local” enough — comedian Frank DeLima has a routine that demonstrates that anyone can act “caucasion” if “dey don’t t’ink” (number 21 above is a good example)], so you need a translation (also good fun even if you’re a local).