May 22, 2016 by Norris Burkes

When it comes to macadamia nuts, I’m a lot like Dr. Seuss’ Sam-I-Am after his aversion-to-conversion experience with green eggs and ham. I can eat macadamia nuts in a box, with a fox, in a house, with a mouse. I will eat them here and there … anywhere.

Since they’re also known as “Hawaiian nuts,” imagine my elation when I received orders to Hilo, Hawaii, with my Air National Guard unit in 2007.

My unit was participating in a two-week military exercise designed to ready islanders for problems caused by a hurricane, such as lack of communication, shelter, food, power and transportation.

It’s a serious exercise, but in our evening off-time, we’d often roam the town in small groups searching for good seafood.

On one particular evening, I accompanied my friends, Master Sergeant Michelle Roberts and Major Robert Flynn, to a beachside eatery called Harrington’s. The restaurant specialized in macadamia seafood dishes and was fittingly renamed Ponds in 2009 as the dining area sat on stilts above a koi pond.

After being seated by the hostess, Roberts and Flynn busied themselves cooing over the koi fish. However, it takes much more than multicolored fish or Hawaiian sunsets to distract me from food. I got down to business studying the menu of macadamia-covered delights.

Eventually, the waitress took our orders. She promised she’d be back in a few moments with our drinks as well as some fish food to toss over the railing.

While we waited, I reopened the menu to find dessert. I quickly became distracted. Would it be macadamia cake or macadamia ice cream?

Our waitress reappeared and placed the drinks on the table along with what seemed like a bowl of macadamia nuts. I took a sip of Pepsi and slid a few of the golden nuggets in my mouth.

Flynn and Roberts dropped their jaws in wide-mouth incredulity; the waitress tipped her tray unsteadily.

“What?” I thought. “Were they upset I wasn’t sharing?”

Suddenly, my gag reflex divulged what my friends were too shocked to say. The nutty chaplain was chomping koi food.

I retched over the railing, passing the choking chow to its intended recipients.

My companions didn’t stop laughing for ten minutes. To this day, they still laugh. To this day, I still defend myself.

“Those small food balls fit my assumptions of what a macadamia nut looks like,” I tell them.” I insist that they could have made the same mistake.

Honestly, my blunder reminds me of the oversight made by people who repost political commentary on Facebook or into those “Please-forward-this” emails. They push what fits their assumptions and their never-mind-the-facts viewpoint.

Like my fish food, they find stuff that confirms their political fears and persuasions. They propagate it because it confirms their dislike for a candidate or position – not because it proves anything.

This election year, politicians are capitalizing on our assumptions. They are morphing the leftover promises of “A Chicken in Every Pot,” into “Change We Can Believe,” or “Make America Great Again.” All the slogans sound great because they promote what the voter assumes to be true.

The lesson this year is that when a politician puts a platter in front of you, don’t assume it’s just what you need, or even what you ordered. In other words, if something seems too fishy to be true, it probably isn’t macadamia nuts.

– Write Norris at or P.O. Box 247, Elk Grove, CA 95759. Twitter @chaplain, or call 843-608-9715.