You can always expect cool things to happen at Honoka‘a’s First Friday events. Last night saw the grand opening of the Hawaiian Cultural Center of Hāmākua (finally), and the launch of the new book about Historic Honoka‘a Town. Residents strolled Mamane Street with ballots, voting for the “the best Christmas display.” Michelle at Big Island Grown was busy selling copies of the new 2016 Honoka‘a Pin-Up Girl Calendar, and I saw that Edie had put my book in the front window at Taro Patch Gifts again (Thank you Edie!). Even Santa strolled through town handing out candy canes to all the keiki.
I love the First Friday festive atmosphere, and the chance to connect with friends. My daughter complains that I can’t go into Malama Market without greeting and hugging at least three people. But that’s not just me – that’s living in a small town. It’s hugs and warm greetings all along Mamane Street, even with barely-acquaintances-about-to-become-friends. Even complete strangers feel welcome and comfortable here. So it didn’t surprise me when a small black man wearing a priest collar approached and softly took my hand. He had an accent that I couldn’t identify over the live music – Caribbean? With an astonished look on his face, he said, “Madam, if you would go to St. Elizabeth Church, you would see a woman who is your exact double. Her name is Bernie. I even said to my friend, ‘Why is Bernie in Honoka‘a tonight?’”
I said something about everyone supposedly having a double somewhere. He persisted. “But you are an exact double! Your face, your height, and she is also very…” At this point his eyes rolled up while he carefully searched for the right word. “…prosperous.” I burst out laughing. “Thank you!” He grinned, clasped my hand tightly, and wished me blessings before he slipped back into the crowd.
Of course, he meant that I was a woman of substance; in plainer words, fat. But such a sweet, diplomatic way to put it! And in thinking about it, I realized it might have meant he came from a place where it was the wealthy people who could afford to each richly and be fat. In America, it is the poor who tend to be heavier because carb-laden and sweet foods are cheaper, an unintended consequence of our farm policy to prop up corn prices. It’s easier to afford a fast-food meal (beef from cows fed on corn, sweet drinks from corn syrup) than a meal prepared with fresh vegetables. (Sorry, I’ve gone off on one of my favorite rants.)
The fact remains that even with my farmer’s-market, eat-right, vegetable-laden meals, I’m not fat, I’m…prosperous. Oh well, more of me to hug on First Friday.
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