Colorful and fragrant lei around my neck: Check
Bright yellow flower behind my right ear: Check
Decorative wrap skirt: Check
Ready to enter into an authentic Hawaiian luau: Check
Met by players dressed in grass skirts, coconut bras, and flowery leis, we were greeted with the welcoming word “aloha.” One thing that I noticed quite quickly, entering into our luau, was that everyone seemed so friendly and welcoming. Of course, this could be due to the fact that it is their job and to make tourists feel unimportant would drive away business; however, with each person it seemed truly genuine. That is, except for the older woman who was handing out flowers for the women to wear behind their ears.
“Right or left?” She asked.
“Excuse me?” I asked, unsure as to what she was asking me.
“Right or left?” She asked again.
I stood there completely confused by the question she continued to ask. What was she asking me right or left for? Was I supposed to guess and hope I guessed right? I didn’t see anyone going a particular direction, just these women slipping flowers behind the ears of other women.
“Are you married or not?” She asked, obviously aggravated by my lack of knowledge regarding this issue. Now, let me ask…if you saw a young girl, who was obviously not the appropriate age for marriage, would you really be asking if she was married? And secondly, would you get snippy because she is young and has no clue about your traditions? If you answered yes, well…I’ll keep my thoughts to myself. However, if you said no…well, kudos to you.
“Not married,” I answered hesitantly, and now deathly afraid to lower my head so she could place the flower behind my right ear. Moving along, I could see various games being played, such as spear throwing, rolling different types of rocks across the sand, and what looked to be like tubes that were shooting out darts. My dad, being the socialite that he is, decided that he would try his hand at spear throwing.
“It’s poi,” my mom informed me.
Looking at it with hesitation, I decided that you only live once. Now here’s my advice to you: If you taste this delicacy known as “poi,” make sure you have a nice, big, tall glass of water to wash it down. Tasting like what I would imagine chalk and paste to taste like, I tried not to show my disgust while sitting at this elegant feast. Luckily for me, everyone else in my family seemed to harbor the same feelings towards the purplish-gray goop.