This is my 125th consecutive column for The Maui News. Two and a half years of Sharing Mana'o. It doesn't sound as impressive, put in those terms. I remember when two and a half years seemed like a long, long time. Now that I'm 55, it's little more than a drop in the bucket. Well, OK, it's a bit more than that; it's actually 1/22nd of my life, so far.
My association with The Maui News goes way back, to the days when two and a half years might as well have been 20. In fact, I was two and a half years shy of 20 myself the day I started working for Maui Publishing Co. Maui Pub, as we affectionately called it, was run kama'aina style by the Cameron family and included KMVI Radio as well as this newspaper. I worked for the radio station from 1975 to 1979, and for a few months during that time, I also wrote articles for Holiday on Maui, the paper's weekly supplement for visitors.
We called them tourists back then. I think Holiday on Maui was one of the first publications to use the new PC term, billing itself as a visitors' guide. It was basically an advertising supplement with occasional features on cultural activities and places of interest. I wrote about Boys Day, Girls Day, May Day, etc.
I even appeared on the cover once, before I started working for Maui Pub. I had just turned 17 and a friend photographed me on Big Beach wearing my crocheted bikini top and Otaheite bottoms. No one else was on the beach. That's how long ago this was.
Otaheite figured in my first venture into commercial radio as well as my cover girl debut. It was junior or senior year and one of my Baldwin High classmates, Jeff Elkins, said his dad's radio station (the young KNUI AM) was running an on-air promotion for the aloha wear and bikini boutique. They were asking women to call in with their sexiest phone voice and purr, "Ohhhhhhh . . . Tahiti!" The best one - presumably, the most tempting - would become the tag line for all the Otaheite radio commercials. I didn't win the contest, but a few years later, I ended up doing their commercials anyway, as part of my KMVI job.
Since I began Sharing Mana'o in January 2011, I've received delightful feedback from readers. Some of you have shared poignant memories and funny stories of your own. Some of you have given me great jokes. A few of you have sent some real groaners. The only criticism has come from my mom, who thinks I shouldn't write about her so often. But then I show her the numerous emails from people who enjoy reading my Mom stories; many are from folks who don't even know her.
The question I'm asked most often is, "How do you think of things to write about?" The truth is, I don't. They just pop into my head, usually at inopportune times, never when I'm sitting down for my weekly scribe session. Consequently, I have Post-Its and cocktail napkins filled with stream-of-consciousness ramblings, as well as more than a dozen files in my computer, each consisting of a few trigger words or phrases. The memo pad in my smartphone looks like this:
Classic & makeshift toys
Gum wrapper chains
Daddy as dentist
Bears (Baldwin, Chicago, Yogi, teddy)
Rubber bands - too many
Men are like . . .
And the list goes on. Regular readers may note that I've already touched on some of those ideas. I haven't removed them from the list because I'm not quite through with them. I have a lot more to say about a lot more stuff. That's the name of my idea file, by the way: Stuff.
I've got enough stuff to easily fill another two and a half years' worth of columns. If I continue for 14 more years beyond that, I will have written 1,000 columns, an achievement reached last October by my old KMVI colleague and dear friend McAvoy Layne, with his Pine Nuts essays in the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. Now THAT'S impressive.
* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose "Sharing Mana'o" column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.