My travel book says a big black sand coastline mostly washed away in an epic storm but a vibrant medium-sized city remains, on the rainy side of the Big Island. The beach basically gone, Hilo, Hawaii, is a locals’ town more than a place for tourists these years, and amongst the full-time resident world transplants are many Thai folks and their fabled flavor-providing restaurants which masses of Americans adore, my true love and I included. So, we are zooming away from the Volcano and off to old Hilo to have some Thai food. Wrapping around Hawaii.
It’s an American Sunday morning, and the farmers’ market is hiving in the central city. Fun to walk in such a sort of almost familiar setting and recognize so little of the fare for sale. We buy nothing but marvel at the fruit and seafood, saving ourselves for a taste of Thailand. It’s suddenly becoming a steamy day.
ART and POETRY a sign boasts on my sightline horizon, small buildings at the edge of the market include a gallery custom made for me. My performance there a half hour later to a few painters, gallerists and the leading in-house poet feels foreign, as I mostly perform urban edge spoken word oh so of the mainland. I buy Belsky’s book and we bid a fond adieu.
A gift shop away we buy a beautiful glass fish in several shades of blue, as the sky suddenly goes gray. Then, it lightens again as we walk in search of the perfect Hawaiian shirt. We enter the fancy Sig Zane store and see many good ones but not that perfect one. Announcing myself to the clerk as a culture writer, we become acquainted with the designer Sig Zane himself, not so busy installing a window display that he won’t break for our company. The shirt I really want is the one he wears, only available in small on the storeroom floor. Upstairs is the storage room for the whole company; he has multiple locations including one in Honolulu. Perfect pink with brown wooden buttons and white rain blowing sideways on Koa trees, it’s a great shirt and they find my size.
A few huge Hawaiians inked up and mean-mugging me in a small public park are to be avoided, scowling as if the whole pig they ate for breakfast isn’t agreeing with them or maybe they just don’t like white boys. I know I don’t either some of the time. Know me for what I am: a man of and for the people. A good white man.
The rain of this side of the island comes and we find the strip of Thai joints. A white Trustafarian eating with a pretty local lady next to us is to me the stereotype Hang Looser. I’m surface profiling him as those giants just prejudged me, but I’m not doing it with ill will.
The food is spicy and coconut milk sweet, the white wine is a nice wash down, and the rain softens enough for us to reach the rental and vacate this very real American city. We felt at its essence, and it was essentially good.