Michaels: On the recommendation of my employees, this arts and crafts big-box chain store was the first place I looked. Apparently they have been to many Hawaiian-themed lei-making parties for their kids. But Michaels, although helpful, was a disappointment. Apparently leis are “seasonal” items and September meant a store brimming with Halloween stuff. Menehune [pronounced meh-neh-HOO-neh] are said to be a people, diminutive in size, who live in the deep forests and hidden valleys of the Hawaiian Islands far from the eyes of normal humans. I admit a nice necklace of white skeletons would have looked cool, but I needed the real thing. The Menehune’s favorite food is Mai’a (bananas) and fish. Cannibals they were not.
Amazon: Of course leis should be made of real flowers, but fake leis have progressed from thick plastic to inexpensive millimeter-thin frilly plastic, to currently in-vogue lifelike silk flowers. Amazon specialized in the latter two. So for $22 you can get a 50 “Mega Silk Lei Assortment of Tropical Hawaiian Luau Party Favors.” Not for me, but for your next Tiki party, knock yourself out.
Caroline’s Closet: Lately, whether it be lei or cat culture questions, my “go-to” couple is Christine and Greg. They are knowledgeable about all things Hawaiian. They perform in a band featuring ukeleles and are connoisseurs of Island cuisine and culture. Christine’s great suggestion was a South Dakota website, Caroline’s Closet, that “specializes in the production and making of accessories for the 18 inch dolls.” Lo and behold, Caroline’s did sell a beautiful purple and white silk lei. A contender.
Ebay: United Airlines apparently didn’t stop at Menehune store displays to promote their Hawaiian Island routes. There on Ebay was a Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey Menehune Man decanter, given away as a gift at the airline’s sponsored 1975 Hawaiian Open golf tournament. BUT––around its neck was a miniature vintage pink plastic lei! One week later and $40 lighter it was mine. It was the winner.
Mahalo nui loa, Ebay! (Thank you very much, Ebay).