My husband Keoni found a historic gem online yesterday: game-film from the championship football game he played his senior year of high school. The whole game—complete with a “pause to change reels.” Yep, reel-to-reel, black-and-white game film. Classic 1973.
Naturally, I didn’t miss the opportunity to tease him about my Favorite Fact. “Wow, there’s Senior-in-high-school You. What was I doing then? Oh yeah—I wasn’t born yet!” (Hell, I wasn’t even conceived yet.)
And another favorite topic of teasing: the mascot for Punahou High School. To back up for a little history, this school stands on Hawai’ian land won in battle by King Kamehameha I, and gifted half a century later to the missionary Hiram Bingham. (If you’ve read James Michener’s Hawaii, Bingham is the historical basis for the dour, hardass character of Abner Hale.) Bingham and his fellow missionaries started a school for their kids in 1841, with Daniel Dole (think pineapples!) as the first principal. One hundred seventy years later, Punahou is still a prestigious private school, known to some as the alma mater of Barry. You know Barry… Obama? (He graduated with Keoni’s younger brother.)
But I’ve digressed—it’s the mascot I like to tease about. Any guesses? Punahou’s mascot is (drum roll, please)…
The Lauhala Tree. That’s right, a tree. Ferocious and intimidating, don’t you think?
So while the game commentators used the opposing team’s mascot (“the Crusaders”) in references to them, Punahou was identified instead by their colors—“the Buff and Blues”—as if that were the team name. I’ve been giggling and poking fun at this unusual mascot-situation for years, but hearing it from the sports commentators took it to a whole new level of fun.
Plus, I have to add the observation that to members of my generation, “buff” is a state of undress rather than a color. Seriously—I had the 128-box of Crayolas, and there wasn’t a buff anywhere in the line-up. (Of course, our son Christian just pointed out that his generation uses the term “buff” to refer to someone who’s very muscular—so I guess this is one of those words that pinpoints your age by how you use it…)
Generational joking aside, it was fun to hear some familiar names in the commentary. Punahou’s offensive line alone boasted three all-star players who seemed destined for the Pros: Mosi Tatupu (who went on to USC and a career with the New England Patriots), Keith Uperesa (who went on to BYU and played for the Oakland Raiders & the Denver Broncos), and one John (a.k.a. Keoni) Tyler (who went on to ASU, but lost his football scholarship to a career-ending leg injury).
I will admit to one moment of weirdness, when I was commenting on his uniform… (Ladies, you know what there is to say about football pants, right?) …And then it dawned on me that the version of Keoni I was watching was a sixteen-year-old. In fact, exactly the age of our son Kapena—which suddenly made my commentary seem a little creepy. Until I reminded myself that I wasn’t even born yet when this particular butt was on display. Well, I’m back to patting the 55-year-old version of that butt, but I sure got a kick out of our YouTube time-travel.