Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween in Hawaii: The Legend of Sleepy Mahalo

Dear Friends,

Aloha from Oahu! It is November where you are, but here in Honolulu, it is still October 31, so I wish you a very happy Helewi! If you can't deduce the meaning of that word from context clues, just remember that Hawaiians treat their consonants like lazy teenagers: They never finish anything and aren't allowed to touch each other.

Goodnight Tushy
This month's Hard Taco song, "Can We Please Just Hang Out Now?" touches on the subject of Hawaii. Here's how it came to be:

Young Malcolm is a typical kid with a typical bedtime routine. He puts on pajamas, brushes his teeth, reads a story, and begs me to pile all of his stuffed animals in a different room because they are possessed by evil spirits. Then, I tuck him in, scratch his back, and turn the lights out. As I walk out of the room, I shake my butt like a Tahitian dancer, and he says, "Goodnight, Tushy." We have imparted a sense of finality to that statement. Once he utters those two words, the day is officially over and he is forbidden from getting out of bed until morning.

Not surprisingly, he has tried everything in his power to postpone saying goodnight to my butt.

"Daddy, I'm thirsty!" Sucks to be you.

"Daddy, I heard a creepy noise!" If you survive until morning, you can show me your scars during breakfast.

Then one day, he strung together a series of words that successfully deferred my rump-shaking. "Daddy, let's write a song together!"

Aw, how can I say no to that? The product of that procrastination session is this month's Hard Taco song, "Can We Please Just Hang Out Now?" Malcolm wanted to explore the subject of friendship. Specifically, the theme is the urgency of wanting to hang out with your friend immediately when he returns from vacation to Hawaii. Malcolm knew that we were planning this trip to the Aloha State, so perhaps he wanted to write a song that his friends could sing to him.

Get That Grizzly a Coconut Bra
This reminds me a comic strip I once read in the University of Wisconsin student-run newspaper, The Daily Cardinal. When I was a med student in Madison, The Cardinal was four pages long, and nearly 20% of its ink was wasted on feeble student-drawn comic strips. These strips consistently managed to be both disgusting and migraine-inducing, like a pile of poop in a strobe light. Here's an example:

Stick figure 1: Let's go to the mall.
Stick figure 2: Okay!

Stick figure 1: (Getting attacked by a bear) Aaaahhh!
Stick figure 2: I thought you said, "Let's go to M-A-U-L."

I remember reading this, and actually becoming angry at the young cartoonist who brought this strobe-lit dung into my life. The art, setup, and delivery were pathetic and the pun didn't even make grammatical sense.

But then, a miracle happened. A Labor Day Miracle, you could say, if we were to name miracles after the most proximate holiday.

With a few quick pencil strokes, the comic transformed into this:

Stick figure 1: Let's go to the mall.
Stick figure  2: Okay!

Stick figure  1: (Getting attacked by a bear in a grass skirt) Aaaahhh!
Stick figure 2: I thought you said, "Let's go to M-A-U-I."

Suddenly, this comic was ver funny. If it had been drawn this way in the first place, it may have been worth a chuckle. What made it sidesplittingly, life-alteringly hilarious was the net change in funniness, the humor delta, if you will. The transformation from a negative black hole of failure to something slightly whimsical was such an massive and dramatic shift, my system was unable to handle it.

I erupted in laughter, right in the middle of class. Pushing my lips together in hopes of suppressing the sound only led to mirthful, spasmodic snorting. I had never lost control of my diaphragm before, but I was out-of-control and I actually had to get up and leave the room because I was disrupting class.

In case you don't appreciate why this is funny, let me explain it to you: It is preposterous that someone would travel all the way to Hawaii because of a misunderstanding, only to be attacked by an animal that isn't indigenous to the area, but is trying to fit in by wearing the traditional costume of local... 

Sorry, I can't finish that sentence, because I'm snorting again and have to excuse myself from the computer room.

With warmest regards,

P.S. During this trip, I learned a traditional Hawaiian Halloween joke. I don't remember the setup, but the punch line is, "The SPOOK-ulele."