Story by Emily Bott
We Mauians like to have fun with our cars. Rare is the fellow who plasters his junkmobile with stickers from bumper to rooftop, but even the straitlaced among us will smooth a decal of the island chain to a rear window, or slap on a bumper sticker exhorting fellow travelers to “Save Honolua Beach” or “Listen to Tita, No Littah!”
Kamaaina proclaim their pride in being local with vanity plates that bewilder the newly arrived. A neighbor of mine has two vehicles that sport pidgin plates, “K DEN” and “AS Y,” plus a bumper sticker that reads, “How’s my driving? Call 1-800-AINOKEA.”
“I missed the culture so much when I lived on the mainland that I got them as soon as I came home,” the owner laughs. “I couldn’t believe they weren’t already taken. Locals will shaka or call out, ‘Awesome plate, brah!’
Equal opportunists, we nudge tourists to “Slow Down, This Ain’t the Mainland,” and gently tease ourselves: When one bumper sticker says, “No Hawaiians, No Aloha,” another says, “No Japanese, No Aroha.”
Our inner islander doesn’t stop with the exterior. We decorate interiors with plumeria sunshades, turtle seat covers, and tapa-patterned shoulder-harness pads. We alert other drivers of Keiki on Board. And we hang stuff from our rearview mirrors, the most universal being lei. Kukui nuts, graduation tassels, woven ribbons, braided ti leaves, crocheted yarn . . . more than mere adornment, they’re memories. Even the smallest strand of maile proclaims Someone Important Sits Here.
I’d guess rosaries are the second most popular item I’ve seen dangling mid-windshield from Maui vehicles. Several had crosses bulky enough to invite a black eye in a sudden stop.
Strangely, I’ve only seen a single pair of fuzzy dice. But one thing was missing completely: With all the cellphoniacs on the road, where is St. Christopher when we need him?