Sit right back and you’ll read a tale, a tale of a fateful bottle, that started in a little creek, and ended up in Hawaii. The protagonist was kind of dumb; the antagonist quite sweet, the northwest media went kind of crazy, for just about a week.
I think the best place to start is the beginning. This is going to be long winded so you might want to go potty first.
My wife, Khara, and I moved to Honolulu in October of 2005. When we moved, we already had plans to get married at her parent’s house in Carlton, Oregon on September 2, 2006. We flew to Oregon a week before the wedding.
A few days before the wedding, I was clearing brush around the foot-bridge where we were to be married, and the machete I was using, slipped out of my hand and fell into Panther Creek. No one was home, so I stripped to my boxers and jumped in to retrieve the machete. A lot of the cleared brush was floating under the bridge so after I retrieved the machete, I decided to push the brush down stream. I pushed the brush about 50 feet to a log that was on its side in the creek. While I was climbing out of the creek near the log, I spied a plastic water bottle that looked like it had a piece of paper in it. I pulled it from the tree’s dead branches and brought it to the house.
I cut open the bottle and found a three and a half year old letter from a young girl, named Emily. I saved the letter and waited for the family to get home. We all read the letter and I told Khara’s family that I did not know what to do with the letter. Someone suggested I write Emily, and then Khara’s mother suggested I write her from Hawaii.
Here is a transcript of the letter. I removed the last names to protect the parties involved.
Hi, My name is Emily S. I am 12 years old. In 6 months I’ll be 13. I have blond hair and I am 6 foot 2. My birthday is July 2. I was borne in Idaho. My 6th grade teacher is Jim Maxum. (Mr. Maxum)I have a crush on Aron B., Logan T., and Kyle B. My address is 123 NW Fake Road, Carlton, OR. Who ever finds this please write me back.
PS. If this is a guy who finds this send me a picture of you if you are under 14. My best friend is Danielle R.
I did not have time to reply while I was in Oregon. I decided I would write a nice letter to Emily, and tell her that I found her message in a bottle about a mile down the creek from where she tossed it in.
With a few exceptions, our wedding went off without a hitch. My first order of business on my wedding day was to tell my sister to stop using the n-word since she called me a "n-word lover" at the rehearsal dinner, and Khara’s dark skinned East Indian cousin overheard. She and her mother were very upset and so was the rest of Khara’s family. I should have been watching a Duck game while the ladies were getting pedicures, and instead I had to deal with my ignorant sister.
There was a small stump fire about 30 seconds before the wedding. It was started buy a guy putting out his cigarette. Khara’s dad put the fire out with his bare hands and said, "If any of you sons of b-words pull that poo again, I’ll kick your butt." After the wedding he apologized to the fire starter’s brother.
The only other thing to happen was an ambulance and fire truck came to treat my new aunt. She is a hot petite blond upgrade from my old aunt. My uncle was dipping her while dancing, dropped her, and then fell on top of her. She spent about a half hour on the dance floor saying she could not feel her legs. By the time the ambulance arrived, she said she was fine and was sitting in a chair. She was pretty embarrassed, but I took the time to thank her for adding a memorable story to our wedding.
A few weeks later, I was back in Hawaii and unpacked the letter from Emily and decided to respond. Since I lack the ability to consider the consequences, I wrote a letter to Emily saying I found her letter in a bottle on the beach in Hawaii. Everything would have been fine except for my inability to consider the consequences; I mailed the following letter with my return address.
October 9, 2006
My name is Keonei and I am a 16 year old boy in Kaimuki, Hawaii. Kaimuki is a neighborhood in Honolulu, Hawaii. I am Hawaiian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Chinese. I like to surf, sea kayak, skateboard, and play football. Right now I am a wide receiver.
My friends and I had a luau on the beach and while we were cleaning up afterwards, I found a water bottle. I was just about to throw it away and noticed a note inside it.
You can see from the note that it is pretty faded. I had troubled reading your address but then my girlfriend, Kamaili figured it out. Kamaili wanted to say hi to you too. We have been dating for a few months. At first she did not want me to write another girl but I told her not to worry since you are thousands of miles away.
I have always lived in Hawaii and was born here. I want to go to college on the mainland. Some of my brother’s friends went to Linfield College. I know that is in Oregon. My sister’s boyfriend went to the University of Oregon. I think I want to go to school in California so that I can keep surfing.
I am 5 11 and 150 pounds. Are you still 6 2? I bet you would be good at volleyball and basketball. I go to UH volleyball games every now and then with my friends.
I hope you are happy to get your letter back. It seems it has been traveling for a long time.
A few days later on a lazy Sunday, Khara received a call from her mother saying how proud her father was of me for sending my letter to Oregon. Khara, thought I mailed her family a letter, then her mother explained that she just saw Emily reading my letter on the news, and reenacting throwing a message in a bottle into Panther Creek. I checked the Portland news station webpage, found the video, and shared it with all my friends. I though it was pretty funny and expected a letter back. Instead, I received a ton of phone calls.
By the following Friday, I received an e-mail from my landlady. She said a local news channel contacted her husband about Keoni. I wanted to freak out. Instead, I took a break and called my landlady. She said by that time, three channels had called. I gave her my home number to give to the media so they would leave her alone.
After my call, I walked outside and bough a pack of cigarettes even though I did not smoke. I lit a cigarette and called a friend for advice. He said I should deny everything. I concurred and went back to work.
I e-mailed Khara the news. After work, Khara picked me up and we went to dinner with friends. One guy suggested hiring a kid to pretend to be Keoni, and everyone else said I should deny it.
We got home around 11:00 PM and we had seven messages on our answering machine. The first one was from the resident manager. He said channel 6 had called and they were asking for a Keoni. He asked if it was our son and left his cell number. The second call was from channel 6. The third was from channel 2 and she was desperate to hear the story of Kenoi. She left her name, another woman's name, and two numbers to reach them. The fourth calll was from channel 8 and they wanted to talk to Kenoi. The fifth was from channel 6, the sixth call was a hang up, and the seventh message was from channel 6.
I went to bed and had trouble falling to sleep. When I woke up, Khara asked me what I was going to do. I desperately wanted to ignore the situation, but knew I had to at least deny any knowledge of the affair. Khara convinced me to tell the truth.
I called the channel 8 lady and I think it was her cell. I left a message that said something like, "Hi channel 8 lady, this is Tom from the Keoni, message in the bottle story. I’m actually Keoni, I found the letter in a creek in Carlton, Oregon and came home to Hawaii and replied to it. So… Sorry about that. Thanks. Bye."
I thought, "Oh, this won’t be that bad" and called channel 2. I did not want to call channel 6 because I was angry that they called three times, and I thought they were also the hanger-upper.
The channel 2 lady was really nice. She was from Portland and so was her husband. We talked story about Portland for a bit and then she asked if she could do a phone interview. I did that, and then she said she wanted to interview me on camera. I told her I would have to ask my wife first. Khara told me I should do the interview. The news lady said the whole affair was romantic, and I told her that I did not want my name and romance used in the same sentence as a 16 year old girl. I was willing to do anything to keep from looking like a pervert.
The news crew took me to a beach, asked me questions, filmed me walking down the beach, and they filmed me reflecting on the situation. They wanted a photo of the bridge, so they took me back to my apartment and I showed them some wedding photos. They filmed me typing on my laptop and then they gave me a ride to work.
I was on the local news that night and the next morning, the channel 2 reporter called me and told me she talked to Emily. Emily was cool with the prank, and she was not mad. The news lady also gave me Emily’s telephone number.
I called Emily and told her I was sorry. Khara wanted her address again, since I no longer had it, to send her some chocolate. She said she was on three news channels, in The Oregonian, and the News Register. She seemed like a nice girl and thought it was all pretty funny.
After talking to Emily, Khara’s cousin called and said she just saw me on channel 6. I talked to her mother as well and we talked story about the whole affair. Everyone in Oregon said the local news portrayed me as a jerk. One station said I found the letter years ago and waited until I moved to Hawaii to reply. I was also told that the Portland media had weather people explain how the bottle traveled to Hawaii. I wish I had those videos.
The letter was a bad idea and putting on a return address was a very bad idea. I cannot believe that I can be such a dimwit. It is still a funny story, here are some of the links.