The Haole Banzai Man’s New Gig
Wednesday - May 30, 2007
In my 64th year, people are constantly asking me about retirement. The personnel officer at our little college keeps sending me e-mails about “retirement seminars.” A younger colleague urges me to burn my lecture notes and get out. “You can go now,” he says. “I still have four years, 18 days and,” looking at his watch, “11 hours to go.”
My wife, the high-strung Filipina, repeatedly tells me of the joys of retirement. The joy she’s found is in watching Korean dramas (not soap operas, not soap operas, mind you - dramas. I’ve learned.)
But as my 11 regular readers know, I’m not so certain. I simply don’t have the requisite skills for retirement. I do neither lawn work nor odd jobs around the house (For confirmation of this, read my son Peter’s columns in another Honolulu publication.). I’m not interested in Alaska or Caribbean or Mediterranean cruises, nor in it’s-Tuesday-so-it-must-be-Brussels tours of Europe. And I have no interest in watching Korean soaps for the rest of my days.
Now I thought I had a retirement plan. My dedicated readers remember that a couple of years ago I foresaw retirement bliss as the Haole Banzai Man. A beautiful calabash niece of mine had asked me to do a banzai toast at her wedding. I studied ancient Japanese texts. I attended classes with Palolo and Kahuku sensei. I took banzai guttural training. And on my niece’s wedding day, my banzai toast was spectacular. The wedding guests ooohed. The wedding guests ahhhed - after, of course, they’d banzaied.
I thought my retirement was made - as the Haole Banzai Man, going from Island wedding to Island wedding, giving banzai toasts that would be talked about from Ka’u to Kekaha.
Alas, it did not come to pass. Crossing the cultural divide from “Cheers” to “Banzai” isn’t easy, particularly if you are blue of eye and hail from the Great Midwest.
My first disappointment came when one of my favorite calabash nephews passed me over and asked his Japanese-American uncle to give the banzai toast at his wedding. I was crushed. Pulverized when I heard Uncle Jerry’s toast; it was downright brilliant, almost as good as I would have done.
My second disappointment was of my own making. My Palolo Valley sensei Ishikawasan’s lovely daughter asked me to give the banzai toast at her wedding. What higher accolade could a haole banzai man receive than that his sensei’s daughter asked him to give her banzai toast? But I had to demur. I was, as the secretaries to the boys downtown say, “off island” on the wedding date.
And there’ve been no more invitations. Oh, a culturally obtuse college administrator asked me - on the spur of the moment - to give a banzai toast at coffee hour. A coffee hour! Can you imagine my embarrassment? His total disregard for the preparation, the meditation, the hours on the mountaintop that are required to prepare a proper banzai toast.
So let me tell you: These have been dismal days for the Haole Banzai Man. Dismal indeed. As the month of June comes around each year, the month of weddings and banzai toasts, I become almost inconsolable.
But last week. Oh, last week. I got a call from one of my readers, a distinguished and discerning gentleman named Abe. Said Abe: “Brah, you hahd to find. I called 16 numbas befo’I fine you. Remember da kine column you wrote about toasts at weddings?”
“Yes,” said I, quietly, sorrowfully. “Yes, I remember.”
“Well, I gotta give da banzai toast at my niece’s wedding tomorrow. How does it go, that shinro stuff? I no wanna sayem’ wrong and talk about private parts.”
So I told Abe: “Shinro. Shimpu.
Banzai! Banzai! Banzai!” And I told him to roll his r’s, to bring up his banzais from his gut, to fling his arms to the heaven.
And I began to dream anew of retirement income. I’ll deep-six my old business cards that read “Haole Banzai Man. Complete Banzai Service for Your Wedding or Special Day.”
The new ones will read: “D. Blaine Boylan, Banzai Consultant Services.”
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