Mister Bell's Restaurant - Naalehu, Ka'u - White Trash - Adulterated Food - Cigarette Smoking Customers Who Are Unhealthful And Somber In Appearance - Rural Ka'u, A Mortuary Of The Soul - A Toxic Environment In Which To Raise A Child
Social Criticism - January 1, 2000
2000.1.1. Saturday, 8:45 a.m.
I just got back from Mister Bell's restaurant (pdf) (external link)-- the only eatery that is open within a fifty mile radius. I ordered pancakes, one of the least offensive items on their menu. I ordered them "to go," and as I stood around waiting, I observed the bored, depressed, unhealthy, and uninspired dispositions of everyone there. Whether it was the people that worked there or the people that ate there, they were indeed what you would call, "white trash:" people with little or no college education; people who watched too much television; people who probably drank too much alcohol; people who resorted to physical violence when their inept language skills were taxed in an argument; people who had no dream to escape this mortuary of the soul that is rural Ka'u. I made some small talk with a six year old boy who had wandered away from his table. I showed him how to greet and hold the door open for customers as they came and went. But even the boy appeared disoriented and disheveled: He was not the robust, self-confident youth that God had intended him to be. The pancake ingredients were refined white flour, refined sugar, artificially flavored coconut syrup, hydrogenated vegetable oil spread, and who knows what else: Basically, it was everything I don't want in a food. The restaurant had several people smoking cigarettes. As I left the restaurant, carryout tray in hand, I smelled of smoke and thought very darkly to myself that the longer I stay in this socially backwards area the more I will resemble these people -- both in appearance and behavior. I'm a sponge, and I am a social being. It's very difficult for me to live here when my only acceptable contacts are a handful of book stores and health food stores that are all over an hour's drive away. I feel driven to take part in the social and dietary options that exist nearby. I would rather that I didn't, but sometimes I feel weak and I just want to be around people, no matter how dark and disfigured they are. If I am to maintain a peak level of mental and physical health for myself, I should probably keep to myself much more than I do. And raising a family here: The thought comes as a nightmare! It is one thing for an adult with a solid, spiritually oriented identity to live here. But for a child for whom the world is an extension of his developing self -- for a child who cannot filter out or put into context all of the negative forces at work around here -- living here would be a tragic stunting of all of his or her potentials. I hope that I am never forced to bring a child into this world in my present financial, social, and geographic circumstances.
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