I don't have much prior recollection of Honolulu Chinatown. When I would spend summers in Hawaii as a kid Chinatown wasn't a place we visited very often. I was taken back a bit when we got there. What a dump Chinatown is! It's like the place becomes a ghost town at sunset. And all the homeless there. It was actually kind of gross. When we reached the restaurant I was more than a little disappointed. "Hey, this is a nice place" was NOT something that came to mind.
The banquet room was on the second floor. When we got off my cousin Jerry was sitting there with his wife Amy checking people in and giving guests their seating assignments. It was really good to see him. We talked a little about the possibility of taking a trip to spring training in Arizona next year. It would great if he can make it.
The first thing that hit me as we made our way to our table was how hot it was. There was no AC running. No air circulation whatsoever. It must have been 90 degrees. I couldn't stop myself from thinking, "Oh, shit, this is going to be a long night". On a good note there was a very good quartet playing Hawaiian music. They called themselves "Canoes for Rent". If you're ever in Hawaii and need to hire a live band look those guys up.
Bryan, Jenny, Karen and I were assigned a table with our cousins Christy and Garrison. Garrison is Auntie Brenda's son. Also at our table were a couple of unfamiliar faces. A big guy and his fiance. The big guy's name was Junior, a co-worker of Christy's at the Wal-Mart near Waikiki. He told us he would be the MC for the evening. MC? Now THAT was a good idea I hadn't considered. Maybe there was a glimmer of hope for this banquet after all.
Junior went to the podium and introduced himself. The same two young ladies basically gave a repeat performance of the songs followed by the Lord's Prayer hula. They were both so good at the wedding ceremony I didn't mind sitting through them again. Junior then introduced the lion dance. The two lions approached the bride and groom's table where Aunty Bren and Uncle Tommy offered them money. This is basically an offering to bring good luck. The lions then made a tour of the room stopping for others who had money to offer. Kinda like the way it is at a strip club.
Junior announced a slight twist to the tradition of clinking your glasses to signal to the bride and groom that they want them to kiss. He had a glass jar filled with slips of paper that had the names of the couples in attendance. Whenever the glasses would start clinking Junior would pull out a slip of paper. The couple on the slip would then demonstrate a kiss that Aunty Bren and Uncle Tommy had to emulate. Most of the kisses were pretty tame, but some were really funny. It was a fun twist I had never seen before.
Finally, some fans were brought out and the room temperature became tolerable. They began serving dinner. The food was okay. Nothing special.
A video collage was then played that had some terrific old family pictures of Aunty Bren, the family, and of Uncle Tommy's family. Richard put it together on his Mac. It was quite professional looking. He did a really good job.
Our cousin Lucille went up to the podium and had a large card for Tommy welcoming him to the Chang family. I thought it was a pretty sweet gesture. She then gave them symbolic joke gifts to both of them. Most were pretty funny but then she got rather raunchy. At one point she was giving Aunty Bren thong panties and KY jelly. You should have seen Garrison sitting next to us. He wanted to crawl under the table.
A few more games were played, there was a money dance, and, of course, toasts. I was exhausted at the end of the night but I must admit that it was a lot of fun. Junior did a great job hosting. It was an honest pleasure to have met him and his fiance. Oh, one other thing. Aunty Bren didn't throw out her bouquet. She gave it to Christy, saying to everyone that she really hopes Christy will meet someone she can settle down with sometime soon, or something like that. How embarrassing for Christy! Sometimes Aunty gets a little carried away!
Oh, by the way, something funny outside caught my eye. There was some sort of bank or savings and loan around the corner. In the window was a sign boasting some APR rate or something like that. In the adjacent window was another sign that read "Free Rice". Only in Chinatown, huh?