We Just Don’t Give A S—t members Jim Bakan and Dom Domas talk story Thursday at Kona Brewing Co.’s Pub & Brewery. (Brad Ballesteros/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Kelli White is the We Just Don’t Give A S--t Kailua-Kona International Charter Club’s regular server at the Kona Brewing Co.’s Pub & Brewery. She is also an honorary member. She knows all 40 members by name and drink. (Brad Ballesteros/Special to West Hawaii Today)
From the left, We Just Don’t Give A S—t members Aka DeMesa, Doyle Holloway and Dick Brum raise their glasses Thursday at Kona Brewing Co.’s Pub & Brewery. (Brad Ballesteros/Special to West Hawaii Today)
The We Just Don’t Give A S--t Kailua-Kona International Charter Club, which meets every Thursday at Kona Brewing Co.’s Pub & Brewery, is becoming an increasingly popular way for men, typically retirees, to meet and chit-chat about whatever’s on their mind. (Brad Ballesteros/Special to West Hawaii Today)
World War II veterans Bob Paddock, 90, left, and Capt. Jack Ross, 86, right, talk story. They are among the 40 We Just Don’t Give A S—t members that convene every Thursday at Kona Brewing Co.’s Pub & Brewery. (Brad Ballesteros/Special to West Hawaii Today)
One requirement for membership into the We Just Don’t Give A S—t Kailua-Kona International Charter Club is to buy a $25 shirt and wear it to all meetings. Those who don’t pay a $50 fine, later used for the club’s annual free lunch. (Brad Ballesteros/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Every Thursday, they arrive at the Kona Brewing Co.’s Pub & Brewery to dominate an outside dining area. Dressed alike in T-shirts emblazoned with the acronym WJDGAS, the men, most of whom are retired, garner repeated glances from other diners.
Those curious enough to approach their table and inquire about the purpose behind their gathering find there’s no explanation — they are handed only a business card. The group’s response reflects their attitude and acronym: This is the We Just Don’t Give A S—t Kailua-Kona International Charter Club.
The club has become an increasingly popular way for men, ages 45 to 90, to meet, chit-chat about whatever’s on their mind, bond and enjoy a good lunch. WJDGAS started with two men meeting regularly. Now seven years later, it includes roughly 40 men meeting weekly. Inspired by the WJDGAS, other men have started chapters on the mainland, as well as in Canada and Italy, said Bob Goodwin, a 77-year-old Kailua-Kona resident and retired farm equipment service manager.
“This is really just a bunch of old guys hanging out and being social,” said Jack Alexander, a 69-year-old Kailua-Kona resident and retired airline captain. “This also helps us get out of those honey-do jobs, at least temporarily. But for the most part, there’s no reason or purpose behind our existence. Besides, we like the way things are and how they’re going.”
This is an agenda-free club with no officers. Structure is frowned upon in this crowd and it’s not unusual for a typical lunch gathering to last two to three hours. Nevertheless, there are two important club rules: To be a member, you must purchase a $25 WJDGAS T-shirt and if you don’t wear the T-shirt to, you must pay $50 into the kitty. The collected money is later used to help treat the members to a free annual lunch, Goodwin said. First-time visitors to the gathering, however, get a free pass to mingle and see if this club is a good fit, he added.
There are no guidelines steering the conversations; topics change rapidly. Members airing grievances or debating national issues like gun control one moment will the next discuss the minutia of everyday life — or share old war stories. Of course, there’s always some kind of fact-finding mission, whether to get recommendations for a good dry cleaner or where to buy a lawn mower replacement part, said Jim Hans, a 67-year-old Kailua-Kona resident and retired golf industry sales representative.
“We exchange ideas and stories. There’s always a little bit of everything — and a lot of nothing,” Hans said.
While there are no female members, the club pretty much considers Kelli White, its regular server at the Brew Pub, an honorary member. When playfully razzed, she dishes everything right back at them. Still, she insists all of members are “adorable, kind, extremely generous gentlemen,” often the highlight of her Thursdays.
Despite their club name, White said she has found they care about her, their community and the people in it.
To get involved or learn more about the club, go to the Brew Pub around 11:30 a.m. or noon on Thursdays.