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Kermet Apio's Laugh Corner

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October 2004

Culture Shock


It seems like only yesterday I made the move from Hawaii to Seattle (that is, if you live on a planet where a day is 18 years long). I know a lot of readers have just made the move because 1) It was the only college you were accepted to; 2) You don’t have $8 million for a two bedroom house; or 3) You are running from the law. Or, in my case, a combination of the three. Well, sharing my experience may help your transition.

All right you non-local locals, let’s get started. As you head into your first winter, I recommend you take a picture of the sun. It will be a good reference for later when you begin to forget what it is. Also, you need to know the difference between warm and dry. When I first came to Seattle I had a jacket that was really warm. It was a combination of wool and, I think, sponge. I walked in my first rainstorm with a 100 pound chamois on my back. So keep yourself dry, unless cold and wet is your thing.

I had a brilliant idea my first month here. I bought a case of microwave burritos and each morning, before leaving for the long walk to my first class, I would heat the burrito and hold it with both hands to my chest as I walked. It kept my hands, chest and face warm and provided a tasty breakfast when I got to class. Of course, there is a bad side that I know now. First, there is an argument to be made that pneumonia may be worth the risk when weighed against the health value of a daily burrito. Also, it’s very difficult to meet people when you employ this warmth strategy. Very few people want to talk to the new guy who smells like 7-11.

There is one language lesson I have for you. Here in Seattle , the word “Pop” means “Soda”. So if someone asks you if you “wanna pop”, they are offering you a tasty carbonated beverage, not asking you to do an outdated 80’s breakdance. I tell you this so you will not be midway through your electric boogaloo when you see the person holding a Mr. Pibb. It makes everyone uncomfortable.

As far as food, you can find most foods you want here. Just be careful. A lot of places have the word “Teriyaki” in their title, but it’s not the teriyaki you know from home. It’s sort of like teriyaki, but they add maple syrup and pixie sticks. Often it’s like a Shoyu Frappucino. And the next time your rice doesn’t stick together, don’t swear loudly and knock the table over. Just head to one of the places that does it right, of which there are quite a few.

Lastly, there are a lot of us here who have been through this. It is a great community of wonderful people who never let the Hawaiian spirit get too far away even if they haven’t been back for years. Knowing them makes it easier. Trust me. So if you happen to be near the UW and see a soaking wet breakdancer holding a scorching burrito, pat him on the back and tell him it’s going to be okay.


Kermet Apio is a Hawaiian born comedian based in Seattle . He has performed in 44 states at venues such as the Aspen and Las Vegas Comedy Festivals. You may have seen him on television in “Evening at the Improv” and “Comedy Showcase,” or heard him numerous times on National Public Radio. You may have even watched him on your way to the Islands , on Hawaiian Airlines in-flight features .

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