The other day, I was on the bus when two guys boarded, sat down in one of the seats across the aisle, and one said to the other, "Pupuka," and pointed to me. They snickered, thinking that I didn't know what the word meant.
Well, I do, and the intonation one gives it is like the difference between saying "Haole," and "F---ing Haole." (I have never said the latter.) (Yes I have.) (And I am one.)
So, I thought about what this guy said for a minute, and then I acted.
I stealthily removed something from my purse. No, not the cuticle scissors, my weapon of choice. This was something mysterious, shiny and round. I held this object, partially hidden, in my right palm. After a short time, these two guys became curious, although they tried to hide it. But I spied my chance; I made my move.
"Hey, you want to see something?" I asked the one who had made the comment about me. I leaned forward, conspiritorially. I waited, having laid out the bait. The two dudes looked at each other, then shrugged.
"Yeah, sure," my intended victim finally said, "why not." Why not, indeed! This was about to become a free-for-all!
Ahhh, this was my moment of greatness! I savored it for a second, then I handed him the silver disc.
He moved it around for a few seconds, during which I had to almost stuff a tissue in my mouth to keep from laughing out loud. Then he figured out that he was supposed to press a button, and he did.
Bang! Boo-yah! No, it wasn't a grenade. But he acted like it was a flash-bang for sure.
"What the fuck?" exclaimed the one with the limited vocabulary.
He was looking at himself in my compact mirror.
I told him, "You want to see pupuka - there's pupuka!"
I couldn't hold my laughter in anymore. He threw the compact back at me, his formerly mute friend now screamed with mirth.
"Pupuka" means ugly. Pu puka means f---ing ugly. Delivered with a smile, pupuka is a teasing word, designed to ward off the evil eye. But sending it out by itself, with this intonation, was inviting the evil doings of an old trickster woman.
"Old bitch!" The guy was still grumbling, and he and his seat buddy moved to the back of the bus.
This gave me an idea. I will become "Pupuka" and wear a cape emblazoned with this name during my standup. Kind of like Hilary Swank's character in "Million Dollar Baby." Her cape had a Gaelic name on it, bestowed upon her by Clint Eastwood, her character's coach. But she wore this cape to every boxing match, without knowing what the word meant. When she was on her deathbed, he finally told her, and this was a heartwarming scene.
But would you wear a cape with a name on it that encouraged everyone to chant this word, every time you entered the ring, without your knowing what the word meant? I mean, this went on for months.
The word could mean, "Kick me," or invite other things to be done to oneself. She was a daring, trusting person to wear that getup.
At least I know what this word means. And I'm proud of it!
I am the Great Pupuka!
And I will pay $50 to the first person to make me a flashy cape that sports this title, and I promise to wear this cape to every standup performance!