One of the reasons Hawaii might have a hard time burying this new coronavirus is that we have a large population of young people and the young people I’m seeing most days on my outdoor rounds don’t seem to give a hoot about social distancing or mask wearing.

They have an “it won’t get me” attitude.

One reason I see this probably more than our state and city task force members or the city and state cops do is that I live on a street with a reputation as the entrance to one of those “secret beaches” that are publicized on some travel websites and in some travel books.

Right when the city and state closed down the parks and prohibited sunbathing or loitering on the beaches, the young people (mostly) started trooping down my road in East Honolulu.

The attraction is that the beach at road’s end is all coral BUT if you go around the corner toward Diamond Head about 100 yards you come to a sandy swath where somebody had blown out the coral long ago. It’s a swimming hole, albeit shallow water. And lots of room for sunbathing.

Police were always unlikely to check it out. Access is via a stairway that stymies use of those ATVs. They could walk, but then they’d get sand in their shoes, and those blue uniforms can get pretty hot on a sunny day.

What amazes me is that no all-together beachgoers here wear masks or make any effort to observe social distancing other than what’s normal at beaches. Large groups of people who are friends and/or family are seated together. They have coolers and CD players and are having a great time, even sometimes going in the water.

Then I see groups of friends in their 20s cramming together in cars parked nearby. No masks and, obviously, no social distancing.

The word “covidiots” was coined here, I think by Kauai’s mayor, but I like the word “knucklehead.” Maybe because it comes from the old “Three Stooges” movies of my time.

But it predates them, according to Ben Zimmer in the Wall Street Journal. He says in 1890 a forest ranger named Charles Shinn wrote a story called “The Quicksands of Toro” in which a cattle rancher unhappy at not hearing from one of the hands said “that infernal knucklehead at the samp ought to have reported before now.”

You can also use “numbskull” and “blockhead.”

They all fit those people passing our driveway maskless and shoulder to shoulder. Some have small kids with them. Do they think those are immune?

Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Vietnam War, Iraq #1 in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. Married to Denby Fawcett, one daughter. Brett Jones.

2 replies on “Knuckleheads Or Covidiots?”

  1. Thanks for speaking out, whatever description terminology . Stupid they are!

  2. Mayor Caldwell issued a mask order for conducting business transactions and riding public transportation. I could not find one for walking on the beach. I do know that you are advised to never wear a mask when you are driving as your glasses will fog up. Also related persons are not part of the social distancing guideline. Lovers can walk side by on the beach or street.

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