“It’s ninety percent her fault.”
Mark looked directly at Debbie as if to place responsibility for their extensive collection on her shoulders. I assumed the other ten percent had to be attributed to that time when Mark brought a tiki carving back from Tonga in 1978. Plus, Mark is the proprietor of the Fuzzy Smudge, their home tiki bar. Mark was giving me a house tour while Ray (Tiki with Ray!) kept Debbie company. She was putting the finishing touches on lunch, and chimed in from the kitchen.
“I started collecting Hawaiiana, and it blew up from there.”
Debbie is a collector by nature. She always has been. Her compilation of hawaiiana, tiki, classic horror, pin-up, sci-fi, taxidermy, and other wonderful oddities is impressive. From the souvenir pillows and flamingoes in the sunroom to the Betty Page figurines in the bedroom or the Moai-mosaic shower (designed and hand-tiled by her) in the master bath, every room in the house has multiple items to evoke wonder. What did I think was the most odd of the oddities? There’s a taxidermy geoduck. What’s that? A geoduck is the largest burrowing clam and one of the longest living species in the world. They can live up to 140 years.
Ray and I were excited to be there. We’d been invited over for a home-cooked Sunday lunch. As we enjoyed coconut cake for dessert, Debbie and Mark regaled us with stories of their four trips to Hawaii. The first expedition was on their tenth wedding anniversary. To prepare, Debbie read every single book on Hawaii from the local public library, made lists of what to see, and checked them off by including each stop in the itinerary. She was determined to get her money’s worth. By their fourth trip, they decided that they wanted to cruise to the islands rather than fly.
“It was just about as much fun as watching paint dry.”
Mark’s opinion of the cruise wasn’t exactly sunny. Although it was a great once they got to Hawaii, it took seven days on sea to get to the islands and seven days back, which made for much too much down time. To make things worse, the cruise line they had chosen was catering to an older, less active crowd. As if to prove the point, they found themselves reprimanded for being too rowdy while putting together a puzzle. From that point forward, they decided that if they ever cruised to Hawaii again, it would be on a cruise line that doesn’t cater to – in Mark’s words – the old and nearly dead.
Regardless, Debbie remained enthralled: “I just love the whole aura of Hawaii.”
Although Hawaiian souvenirs and artifacts are quite at home in tiki environments, “tiki” and “hawaiiana” are two distinct styles. What’s the difference? As we talked, Ray provided his definition to assist: “Tiki is a imagined vision of the South Pacific which borrows from all the islands of the South Pacific, including the orient, whereas Hawaiiana is literally just items and images from the islands of Hawaii like hula girls, tikis, and souvenirs that feature the islands of Hawaii.”
You might then ask the obvious. With all the aloha flowing around their home, how did Mark and Debbie’s bar get named the Fuzzy Smudge?
When they bought the house many years back, they found a spot in the shop that contained nothing more than a leftover smudge of fur and grease. An oddity in its own right, they decided to stanchion it off for awhile and allow private viewings for special friends. Debbie thought it might be the remains of a wombat, but Mark refuted her geographically inaccurate theory. As headmaster of his domain, he proclaimed it to be the last remaining smudge of a bygone squirrel. Once the spot was christened, it only seemed natural to name their tiki bar the same. There’s even a Fuzzy Smudge tiki mug, which I was lucky to score as a gracious gift.
“We do whatever we want, whenever it tickles our fancy.”
Mark’s words resonated with what I saw. I remembered the taxidermy geoduck and beautiful vintage leis from upstairs. In the Fuzzy Smudge before me, I gazed at a toothless shark, various tikis, girly mugs, a collection of more than 2,000 geocaching coins, a batman lampshade, an extensive collection of vintage menus, and a plaque with the vestiges of fuzz proudly displayed.
As I took it all in, I celebrated that Mark and Debbie do exactly what tickles their fancy.