Nuttin’ but da Bes

Liddo Bitta Tita

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By Kathy Collins | Illustration by Matt Foster

Listen to this column read aloud in pidgin:

Kathy Collins on Luxury

Plenny people t’ink titas an’ luxury no go togedda. I donno why dey t’ink dat. Jus’ ‘cause we eat Spam by choice, an’ we shop at da swap meet, an’ we wear rubbah slippahs even when we go weddings (sometimes even when we da bride!), dat no mean we no appreciate da finah t’ings in life. Maybe we jus’ get diff’rent kine ideas of what is luxury.

Some guys t’ink luxury gotta cost plenny money, only stuffs you no can afford. Odda guys say, no need be expensive, but gotta be fancy. Plenny peepoh t’ink dat luxury is kinda da opposite of necessahty. But on da oddah hand, treating yo’self good is very nessa-sary; dass how I feel, anyways.

To me, luxury is when your head an’ your heart no match. Your head telling you, “No need dat kine stuffs,” same time your heart stay going, “But dass what I want!” Luxury is da kine stuffs you feel like you gotta have, but you know you no gotta. Like da extra gravy, extra rice, extra mac salad on yo’ roast pork plate lunch. Or fillin’ up da tub fo’ one bubboh bath instedda one fas’ kine showah.

Was my fav’rit auntie who wen’ teach me about luxury. Small-kid time, I used to spend Friday nights wit’ her an’ Uncle. Dey nevah have no kids, so she used to borrow me from my parents, jus’ fo’ have da kine yout’ful energy around da house. Ev’ry Sattaday morning, she would take me go shopping. Firs’ we would go Ah Fook’s Market fo’ get da groceries, den Toda Drugs fo’ get Uncle’s medicines an’ Auntie’s magazines an’ one chocolate malt fo’ me, den Ben Franklin fo’ get one new dress fo’ my Barbie dolls, which she also wen’ buy fo’ me.

My faddah an’ maddah used to scold Auntie an’ tell her not fo’ buy me all kine stuffs, bum-by she going spoil me. But Auntie would always tell dem fo’ mind their own business. “Dass my money an’ I going spend ‘em how I like!” An’ wasn’t jus’ me; Auntie used to treat ev’rybody spesho, even herself.

She would only buy Best Foods mayonnaise, not Kraft. Skippy peanut buttah, not Peetah Pan. An’ her Spam an’ green beans was always real Spam, not luncheon meat. One time I wen’ ask her how come she no buy what stay on sale, like ev’rybody else. She wen’ tell me, “If I can afford da luxury of getting what I like, den dass what I going get.”

Da olden days Hawaiians nevah have one word fo’ luxury. Dey had one whole phrase. If you look ‘em up in da Pukui-Elbert Hawaiian Dictionary, you goin’ find “mea e ho‘ohiwahiwa ai ka noho ‘ana.” Da loose translation fo’ dat is “stuff from one precious or spesho way of life.”

On Maui, get plenny ways fo’ treat yo’self, no mattah how much money you get or no get. You can soak in aromat’erapy baths at world-class spas, an’ you can go swim in mountain pools where da smell of white ginger or ripe guava stay hangin’ in da air. You can fill yo’ house wit’ paintings by awesome artists, an’ you can walk outside an’ see tropicoh beauty anywhere you look. No mattah if you live here or you only stay fo’ liddo while, jus’ being on Maui is one luxury. Precious an’ spesho.

Get one famous quote from Charlie Chaplin: “The saddest thing I can imagine is to get used to luxury.” But Charlie Chaplin, poor t’ing, nevah live on Maui.

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