Destination Pukalani: Dolphins everywhere

KAHULUI — I’ve gotten over the fact that I won’t be able to see the Molokai Farmers (and videotape their matches) this week at the HHSAA Division II Girls Volleyball State Championships on Oahu.

Nope, time to move forward. The journey from Honolulu to Upcountry Maui has begun. The D-I state tourney begins in a few hours and I’ve landed in Kahului.

“No reason to be overly concerned,” the pilot said after announcing that there would be some typical turbulence upon descent. The ‘overly’ part was interesting. Pilots have to watch what they say, express some level of attention to detail while remaining cool in the cockpit.

I would hate being a commercial pilot. Being nice to people, a given. But as a constant requirement? I’m just lucky (blessed, really) that most of my work is done in solitude. Then I can enjoy people when I’m at a game or doing a feature story interview. I relish the interaction then.

For now, though, I’ve been through — hold it…

<pauses to chat with a couple strolling through the airport>

Since arriving at Honolulu International Airport to fly on to Maui, I’ve been chatted up by three people, which is three more than I usually talk to when I’m going off island. Why? Just because I’m wearing (again) my Davone Bess aqua Miami Dolphins jersey.

The first guy is a security guard who works in front of the HIA Burger King. Older gentleman, silver hair and Buddy Holly glasses.

“I’m from Miami,” he said. “I was a police officer there.”

Turns out he’s a hardcore Dolphins fan, back to the Larry Csonka/Jim Kiick/Nick Buonoconti (sp)/Bob Griese/Larry Little days. Back when the Dolphins, not the Hurricanes, were the biggest show in town. A lost traveler interrupts our conversation and I move on.

I’m exiting the restroom at Kahului Airport when a guy wearing Miami Hurricanes gear grins and says to me, “Hey, great jersey!” He and his wife are from Florida, he said.

Then I’m sitting here at Starbucks in the airport, blogging about the first two chats when a middle-aged man strides directly to my table. His name is Kevin Mason and wife Christa is right in stride with him.

“We got ripped off,” he says with some annoyance in his tone. He shows me the big (4-inch x 4-inch) full color Dolphins logo tattooed on his right ankle. He’s a lifer, all right.

Being a Rams fan, I’m not sure what ‘ripoff’ he’s talking about, but we talk anyway. The crime was the way referees stole a win from the Dolphins in their game against the Steelers three days ago. I saw the highlights and agreed. How could the ball be ruled a fumble before Roethlisberger crossed the goal line, Miami recover the ball in the end zone, and Pittsburgh get the ball back at the 1-yard line?

I’m with Kevin on this one.

Reaching into a shopping bag, he shows me a brand-new Brandon Marshall orange Dolphins jersey (“a knockoff,” he said) and his 1993 Florida State national championship ring. It’s insanely decadent. I’m speechless. Couldn’t even ask if those were real diamonds, but if he’s wearing knockoffs like me, they probably aren’t.

They head to the gate, en route back to Waikiki, where they live. If you see a tanned dude with salt-and-pepper hair and moustache wearing a Brandon Marshall jersey, tell him Pupule Paul says ‘howzit.’

The video will be online someday. If I’d known it would Dolphin mania on this trip, I would’ve videotaped the first two guys.

For now, it’s time to get the rental car, check in to the hotel, find someplace that sells tripods and hit the road to Pukalani. Not far from Kula, where my mom and her side of the family were raised long ago when it was all farms, dirt roads and nine kids in a two-room house.

Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser


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