There I was, just minding my business, driving to work, when I Miss You Hawaii by Na Leo came on.
Oh, the feels.
That stirred within me this longing for a place I called home for many years.
It’s a weird kind of homesick, though, because times like this, I miss Hawaii so much. Yet, I still don’t wanna go back and live there. I’m a mainlander for life, apparently.
There is something about island life that you can’t find anywhere else in this world.
Something about the people.
Something about the culture.
Something about the plate lunches…
maybe it’s just really a heavy case and dose of nostalgia.
Because in moments like these, I only think about the great things about Hawaii.
Not so much the non-touristy parts.
It’s the place where we lived the longest; where I graduated high school from; where I went to college; where stupid girls broke my fragile and loving and generous heart; where I made friends — good friends; where I got married.
So I went home and started looking around to see if I could find anything to remind me of the place I called home for nearly a decade.
As I was looking through old photos and yearbooks and what not– I realized that my dearest friend’s birthday is right around the corner.
It’s been a minute since I’ve spoken to him.
It’s been nearly 7 years since I’ve actually hung out with him.
So I decided that I’d make him a video to wish him a happy birthday from Houston all the way to Okinawa, the land of Mr. Miyagi, where he lives now. And also because I don’t really know what he’d like or appreciate, and it’s not like shipping things to Okinawa’s cheap. 😅
Oh, but what video to make for him… sort of felt like when I used to make mixtapes for friends. Kids, mixtapes are… playlists that.. never mind, just Google it.
Then it hit me.
I dug through my desk to find this one external hard drive. There was something on it that would be the perfect music to this video I had in mind.
It was going to be good… that is until I found the drive; plugged it in; browsed through all the folders; and listened to what I was looking for.
Have you ever did something that you thought was pretty cool when you were doing it but after the fact; decades after the fact… it’s just cringe…?
In 1999, 4 of us band geek senior boys got together and just started… singing. I have no idea how this began.
Me thinks the seeds were planted when 3 of us took Hawaiian history together in our junior year and our teacher (Mr. Tamondong… haha… great guy) would spend most Fridays (if not every Friday) busting out his ukulele (friends, it’s pronounced OO-KOO-LEH-LEH and LOVE OF GOD AND EVERYTHING HOLY not YOU KAY LAY LEE) and teaching us Hawaiian songs.
We got together and started singing. A cappella style. Before all this a cappella stuff was cool (for that one year).
Our first gig was at the Band Banquet where we sang (most likely terribly) Leaving on a Jet Plane.
Then, we picked up a fifth member and the rest, as they say, was history.
But before we were to perform on this tour of graduation parties, we needed a name. Every band has a name.
We decided to christen ourselves as the Five Ono Boys or FOB.
It was funny because FOB also meant Fresh Off the Boat, describing recent Asian immigrants. 4 of us were fully Asian, one of us had a little Filipino in him (maybe even a bit of Chinese). And Ono means “delicious” in Hawaiian. … oh we also numbered ourselves according to height. I was Ono Boy #1 cuz I was the tallest. But we also numbered ourselves according to deliciousness (with 1 being the most delicious, of course).
And our gigs became friends’s graduation parties.
So began our (only) summer tour as FOB.
4 of us would stay behind for college to attend the University of Hawaii. One would dare explore the mainland of California.
We would keep the “band” alive, though.
While other kids (read: normal kids) would go out and party on Friday nights and what not– the four of us would gather at certain parts of the campus where acoustics were just awesome and sing and practice. Why? Because we were freaking nerds.
Then, it was decided that since we were 5 poor and broke college boys, for Christmas, we would make our first (and last) FOB album to give out to our friends and family as Christmas presents.
Dear readers, that was what I was looking for in this external drive.
I hadn’t listened to these audio files converted from a CD for years — nay, decades. Not gonna lie, there was an underlying of excitement to listen to these lost tapes… CD… audio files.
That is until I actually listened to it.
The dial on the cringe factor went to eleven.
Oh ho ho ho man — we should’ve been embarrassed of ourselves.
Actual audio proof not withstanding — we made some great memories hanging out and learning songs and all that. It’s been a few months since I’ve spoken to two of them; and years since I’ve spoken to the other two.
I really met some good human beings that I can call friends in Hawaii.
I’m sure I wasn’t quite the best of a friend I could’ve been for them… especially since I’ve lost touch with most of them. But I dug around and found their emails, seeing if I can reconnect with them.
The easiest thing is to probably fly back to Hawaii and visit them — all the while showing my boy where I call home.
Hey, Diocese of Hawaii, if you need a supply preacher for a few weeks — I’m your supply preacher.
But I picked the least cringe track and sent it to my friend wishing him a happy birthday, in spite of the video.
Then I thought, you know what — this level of cringe needs to be experienced by all.
So here it is.
And what we looked like over some 20 or so years ago.
We’re all going down together, because I’m going to tag every single one of them on Facebook (… well the birthday boy doesn’t have Facebook…and neither does Mike but I can tag Mike’s wife).
But these 4 are solid humans and great friends.
This is my weird way of saying I miss you all. And not just the Ono Boys, but all of us who stuck together through band and dorming with and near each other all throughout college. It’s really hard to swallow that was more than 19 years ago.
Oh, Ono Boy #2 — happy birthday, dude.
I think of you quite often, but I don’t email you as much cuz you take forever to respond to emails.
This is it. Your last year in your 30’s. Ha ha. You’re getting old.
I hope there exists a moment in the near future where our paths cross again. And I mean like in this fricking life time and not like in the afterlife or some other corny stuff.
But sincerely, happy birthday. I hope you’re well celebrated, because you deserve to be.
Without further ado, here is FOB and their rendition of In the Still of the Night.