Our Little Problem
I’m probably not the first Californian to admit that many Californians have a serious attitude problem. I may be more aware of this issue because I travel extensively and enjoy having friends from a variety of social, political, ethnic and economic backgrounds, but I wasn’t always aware of it. I would like to share with you three very short tales of how my eyes were opened to this unusual dimension of the California experience, and offer a unique suggestion regarding what we can do about it.
The First Event
The first event happened more than fifteen years ago. A new patient came to see me in my clinic. He’d been born, raised and lived in the Central Valley of California and had just moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. As I spoke with this man I was impressed with the clarity of his energy and his direct honesty. At the same time, I also noticed a feature in his mannerisms that was unfamiliar and strange, which I took to be some form of mental retardation.
I spoke with this man for a full twenty minutes before I realized that the unusual disorder he was presenting was that he was being polite. It had been so long since I had talked with a person who was demonstrating politeness that I actually believed there was something wrong with him. My bad and what an eye opener.
The Second Event
The shock of this awakening still wasn’t great enough for me to really grasp the magnitude of our collective problem. That didn’t happen until the second incident, which happened over ten years ago, when I was traveling in New Mexico. I had stopped off at a nursery and was admiring many of the native plant species there. The nursery had a young male employee who repeatedly annoyed me as he violated my personal space with random questions about my garden. I tried to avoid him for several minutes until I realized that he was being helpful.
Much like the first incident, I suddenly realized that it had been many years since I had witnessed this kind of behavior in an individual, and I had forgotten what it was or what it meant. Ouch and wow. The gestalt occurred at that moment and I understood that I had become one of the people that I am now talking about here in this article. But I didn’t think I was always that way. It seemed to me that this weird transformation had come on so slowly that I wasn’t aware of it as it happened.
We Have A Reputation
People who aren’t from California are very aware of our attitude problem. It’s one reason why many people who come to visit decide not to live here, and why many who have tried to make a go of it in California leave. It’s also why Californians have such a piss poor reputation in other states when we try to live somewhere else, creating the fiendish act of what outlanders call ‘Californication.’
The Third Event
The final call to action came recently for me after I had spent a lovely ten days on the island of Kauai, steeped in genuine Aloha encounters and generally having a great time. When the moment arrived to return home to San Francisco, I got to fly over the great expanse of Pacific Ocean with a plane full of San Franciscans.
Within seconds of boarding it became evident that the atmosphere in the plane was choked with an unbearable quality. It was the quality that non-Californians know so well when they visit California. The time I spent in Kauai had somehow cleansed me of this energy, if only temporarily, and now it was returning full force without my permission. To reenter this state of being was repulsive in the extreme. It was painful. It was boring. I decided that something needed to be done.
Diagnosis Or Divination?
Now in medicine, when we treat a disease it’s essential to come up with a proper diagnosis. We need to know exactly what we’re dealing with to work effectively and elicit a cure. In the case of California attitude, I thought it might be more prudent to invoke one of the techniques of exorcism, wherein a demon must first be named in order to drive it out.
My Quest For A Solution
As I blundered toward my assigned seat for the long flight over the Pacific, I decided to undergo a quest to discover the name of the demon that may have possessed Californians en masse. Being a good Marinite, I began my journey by relaxing in my seat and going to my happy place. Because the presence of this uniquely Californian energy was so abundantly present and evident on the plane, it was easy to locate its essence and open up a dialogue with it.
The Spirit Of Caloha
I communed with this tense and ugly possessing spirit on the inner planes for a time. I asked for its name. The spirit answered in a twisted, dry voice, “Caloha...”
“What does your name mean?” I requested.
“Caloha is the spontaneous disrespect and disregard that Californians demonstrate for people who do not belong to their chosen social group. It is the polar opposite of Hawaiian Aloha...”
What followed was a long interchange around how Caloha arrived in California beginning sometime in the 1970s in response to a human need to feel superior after the epic, embarrassing and catastrophic moral, political and aspirational failures of the highly experimental 1960s era. Caloha indicated that s/he has been helping Californians to cover up a sense of emptiness and despair, and that her/his efforts have been snowballing as each decade has passed since that time. Caloha explained that this cover up comes at the steep price of these people’s souls. The process doesn’t happen in one fell swoop, but gradually over time until the possession becomes complete.
The Golden Key
I gulped hard on my drink as I realized that I, too, was locked in somewhere on that infernal spectrum of the damned. I steeled myself with resolve not to return to California without an answer, a dynamic solution, without the golden key that could free my fellow Californians and me from this accursed and politically incorrect plague.
I used my clinical skills to the utmost as I guided, with compassion, the conversation with the ghastly spirit of Caloha. At last s/he divulged that even s/he was bored and repulsed by the emptiness of the process of the group possession of Californians. S/he confessed in full that s/he never anticipated the Yuppie generation, which almost did her/him in, and that the current generation of Millennials, from the looks of it so far, seemed too much to contemplate. Caloha explained that the trade for these people’s souls was not worth having to spend so much time with them, that the arrangement had caused unbearable suffering on all sides, and that s/he longed to return to the hell from which s/he came rather than continue to live in California among Californians.
Caloha Wants To Go Home
I was amazed to discover that we enterprising Californians now possess our possessing demon, and the demon wants out of the deal pronto. Caloha finally taught me that the only way s/he can be freed from this unbearable bondage to Californians is for human beings themselves to point out the problem and make light of it rather than get victimized by its effects.
It’s our job to name Caloha so s/he can go home.
Well, that’s the long and short of it. I know it may sound strange to some of you, but I’ve been sharing this story with many people and a strong share of them they say that it resonates with an inner truth in them somehow. They’re finding that naming Caloha has a kind of power. This naming is an action that may just free Californians from this unusual and long-standing curse. I think it’s worth a try.
The name Caloha is catching on. I’m very happy to report that it was recently added to the Urban Dictionary, and I’ve created a Caloha Facebook page for people to name incidences and locations of Caloha sightings and experiences for all to witness, search Facebook under Team Caloha.
I invite you to participate in this mini-crusade of depossession along with me. Like so many things in life, Caloha becomes much easier to identify, release and get free of once s/he has been named. With our help, Caloha might just return to her/his origins, and California may return once again to being the Golden State that it once was and can be.
With warm and optimistic regards,