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Graffiti Does Hawaii, Leaves Money (on the nightstand) In the Ocean

By Staff | Feb 29, 2008

Dear Wave,

I don’t blame you for what you did. In fact, I halfheartedly thank you for ridding me of the pixilated mediocrity my gear had become. I mean, who needs a phone or camera anyway? (I do, Ocean, I do). I was standing defiantly in your high tide on the beaches of Waikiki on the island of Oahu, and you were able to bring me back to Earth É literally. The purple disc was slowly creeping back into the sea on the horizon, and I had dared to stand knee deep in the water to watch its journey downward. What I did not know was how you were watching me, gaining momentum and strength, until you lurched forward to slap me in the chest. Maybe you had meant to knock me down and ruin everything in my pockets or maybe you had only meant to startle me. This is a question I’ll never know, because upon impact my feet sprang out and up and I fell without any form of grace or benevolence to the soaked sand below. My outdated-never-works-when-I-want-it-to phone and my should-have-been-broken-a-year-ago camera fizzled and died under the sobering sound of the salt-water crash. But, I don’t blame you. How could I? Instead I leapt to my feet, and yelled “Hana Hou!” which was Hawaiian for “Encore!” Now, it may be true the only reason I remembered that term was because of its unfortunate repetitious use by me to the bartender that night, but I don’t blame you, Wave.

I blame the bar.

I am, yours

most sincerely,


 It’s true. It’s all true. I got thrown a hot deal to travel to Hawaii for an incredible price and I took it. Who can blame me? I sure can’t. (However, Justin may, considering I’m the only full-time writer in this joint). Technicalities, technicalities.

Hawaii is, and forever will be, one of my favorite places I have traveled to. From the warm air that pushed against my face when I stepped off the plane to the buzz on street corners in Honolulu, the sheer notion of Hawaii is everywhere. Due to a remarkable “in,” (my dad) I was able to stay at the Moana Surfrider, the oldest hotel in Hawaii (1901) on the Waikiki strip. Shaped like a “U” with the tips toward the Pacific, our community area where we ate and drank was located in the middle crowded around an enormous banyan tree. Planted in 1904, this majestic monstrosity has branched out and dug down and re-rooted itself many times into the soil. Every morning I welcomed the sight of it. Those were good mornings.

The beach wasn’t wide and by the time the sun slung itself high the people ate up spaces on the sand like real estate owners. Let’s just say the chairs were Park Place.

I mostly dropped my shoulder bag somewhere around Marven Gardens because I got to the beach pretty early. From that point, you can imagine the wealth of nothingness possible. Having the bulk of my ancestry from the western-most of Western Europe, the sun and I are mortal enemies. Some might say him and I are the modern day Montagues and Capulets. So, to prove to our closest star who was boss, I only put on sunscreen once and began to read one of the four books I had brought.

Like a dry piece of toast, I began to burn and scorch under the heat. Even though the temperature was a moderate 82 degrees on average during my stay, the sun was out. And even though I ended up redder than the CIA when there were found to be no weapons of mass destruction, I counted my idiotic rebellion as a victory and moved into the shade the second day.

Damn was I burnt.

Nonetheless, I discovered a couple things about myself during my trip: a) I can surf, b) I can’t surf as well as at LEAST two 10-year-olds, c) I love Matt Hasselbeck, and d) I could watch Hula dancers constantly.

All right, I can understand how “d” isn’t something particular to my personality. Men and women alike could watch these hypnotic hip geniuses or those hulking male masses of chest slaps, but the others take a little more care in explanation.   

I know this is going to sound cliche and overly formulaic of me, but once I found out I was headed to Hawaii I knew I had to find myself on top of a surfboard. Luckily for me, I was able to rent a slab of liberation and paddle my way out to the gathering mass of surfers and surfer-ettes. I had no idea what I was doing, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t look good with this surfer shirt I bought 20 minutes before. I thought if I could at least look like I knew what was going on, someone would give me some pointers.

The first 20 minutes I spent studying and positioning myself. I tried to congregate close to the huddled throng of fellow surfers (just like me!) but far enough away that if I actually started to move I wouldn’t hurt anyone.

And then, the sky opened and the sun appeared — it was my chance. The wave came from far away. I almost knew it would be my first attempt. I could see it start to crest and reach its highest peak and so I began the motor effects I had witnessed and practiced in my mind for such a long time. With my point toward the beachhead, I paddled like a mad man. Now, I never imagined it would work, so when my board was instantly thrust forward and I was suddenly on top of the rolling wave, I had no freaking idea what to do. And as asinine as this sounds, I just popped up to my feet. I don’t know how I did it. I don’t know what my technique was. But suddenly I was standing, riding the wave into shore. Unfortunately I only rode it for around five seconds until I was thrown asunder, plunging deep into the blue water and into the shallow coral below. My time surfing was one I (as well as that gash on my shin) will never forget.

The other standout highlight of my time on the island was the Pro Bowl. That’s right, I was there … when Derek Anderson lost the game for the AFC.    

From first timers like Big Ben to seasoned veterans like Peyton (6’5’’ laser-rocket-arm) Manning, the game was a great cultural event. From the block party outside our hotel’s doors and the pre-game celebration itself to the actual game, the Pro Bowl was truly a once in a lifetime ordeal.

Speaking of which, let me explain my newfound respect for Matt Hasselbeck. When it came time for us to leave this sunlit Garden of Eden, my dad and I were traveling between gates and whom else do we see but iconic Seattle Seahawks quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck. Obviously returning home from the Pro Bowl, Matt’s family was inside waiting for him while Matt snapped pictures and signed autographs and hats. We quickly joined the fray and even though we were the last ones there in line, he stayed until everyone had left. And let me just say, Matt Hasselbeck is huge. Like an archangel, Matt spread his arms around my dad and I’s shoulders like a warm blanket and held us like old pals while a young Korean woman took our photograph. We shook hands, I said something f***ing stupid like “You’re gutsy,” and we parted ways. Matt Hasselbeck catapulted to the top of my man-crush list that day, my friends. Don’t tell my girl.

While it wasn’t even possible for me to recap the entire trip to you, faithful readers, I hope I have at least instilled in you a little bit of what it was like to travel to Hawaii and sit on the sand. And even though I lost my camera and my phone to the deep abyss of the Pacific Ocean (oh, and my wallet and my room key), Hawaii reminded me how beautiful the world is. Ah well, back to 30-degree weather and bad drivers. West by god …

Contact Ben at bspanner@graffitiwv.com