Only on Vashon – The Weekly Rundown 01/07/2024

I took a break for the holidays, and this morning I logged on to see what we’ve all been up to the past few weeks. It seems that since the holiday spirit has left us, we can return to being are cranky selves.

We’ve been walking along the street and getting pushed into the muddy gutter by passing cars. Washington State Ferries abandoned their timeline for resuming regular service, and we won’t get that third boat back until the new boats are ready in 2028.  We’ve stopped traffic to talk to friends without pulling over. Also, we all got lice, which we blame on Vashon Parenting. 

Then we went on a crime spree. To start with, Dockton Park reopened and immediately combusted, leaving the charred remains of a picnic table. 

Can you guess the first comment? Yes, it was, “Some kids need better parenting.” Seriously, who allows their kids to start a job and not finish it? Those 3 remaining seats are a mark of shame. 

Some people volunteer to  do mercenary work. One says, “WTH , If you catch em, give me a call, ill help you torture em 😤

The poster says, “I told a kid that’s always down there $250 cash if he tells me who did it, might have an answer sooner than later.”

How do islanders react to the prospect of vigilante street justice that targets children? One says, “This response is beyond inappropriate. It’s one thing to be frustrated and want to teach kids a productive lesson, but getting on a public community forum and threatening to catch and torture them is in my opinion far worse than burning a table. “ They say they should spend the $250 on a new table rather than “playing dress up cops” and, as a coup de grace, add, “thank you for contributing to my screenshot album, if you do anything, I’ve got your words plain and clear ❤️

Man, you can’t even threaten to bribe, extort, and torture children anymore without some busybody interfering. 

The commenter who wanted to torture kids says it was a joke, that they have kids, and the other person is a boring woke scold for taking it seriously. 

A friend of the original poster and their co-conspirator in potential child torture says, “Lessons need to be taught. Period. Dockton is in their hearts and souls. Vashon as well. Like many of us born and raised here, we’ve had more than enough of theft, vandalism, selling of fatal drugs. ‘Playing dress up cops’ as a community is working in the absence of our police. I say rise up Vashon!!”  

Then the anti-torture scold makes this good point, “Your opinion on Vashon’s lack of cop presence and how to react to it doesn’t bother me, but it does tell me a lot about what you think cops should be doing here. Your claim that bribing and threatening to torture kids is fill in for police is quite telling.”

What is the role of cops? Should they bribe people to snitch and torture children? Is that a service we’re lacking on the island and need to fill in for ourselves? 

Someone adds this cryptic comment, “1983 Meyer tp event. Did that involve you? Torture time. Lol” 

What was the 1983 Meyer tp event? Googling it gives me articles with titles, “Used TP 104 for sale” and “Materials processing in space bibliography 1983 revised” and the NHL 1983 draft. 

The original poster is blameless in the scandal of 1983. They say, “no I did not partake in that ill fated mischievousness ! I remember when they were all headed there though with their cartons of eggs, jagger n I just looked at each other and said nah, we ain’t going” Then they add, “They kicked 4 guys off the football team for that lil stunt tho, just b4 the pt. Townsend game.”

One person reminisces, “I remember mailbox bashers. Sigh“

Later comments show that the sheriffs found the people responsible for the Dockton fire. They had TPed  a different location in town, then set the Dockton table on fire by burning TP. 

But some worry that’s not enough evidence. One says, “I don’t think using a brand of toilet paper is the forensic nail in the coffin it seems. There are like 6 places to buy toilet paper on island,”

Okay, but, how are they able to determine the brand of toilet paper after it’s been incinerated? I feel like we’ve gone down a weird rabbit hole of arm-chair detective work.

One person has this very My Cousin Vinny explanation of how the town TPers might be innocent of table arson: “ Have you never been in an area where say for instance on Halloween or graduation there are multiple houses TP’d? Multiple people all on their own do it. Doesn’t have to be a toilet paper conspiracy….unless it is TP that is only sold in say Japan and illegal to bring into the US therefore it was smuggled in by an islander then they may have a connection.”

If you’re involved in an illegal toilet paper smuggling operation, wouldn’t you want to keep it on the down low?  And also, if you’re paying high prices for black market toilet paper, why would you waste it by throwing it around? Wouldn’t you want to savor every square? I just don’t think this line of reasoning is going to prove fruitful. 

Another commenter brings us back to the topic at hand– hurting children in order to teach them not to hurt other people. They say, “Man Vashon has really turned into a dumpster. Parents need to start giving some ass whoopings. This is unacceptable!”

When people point out that physical punishment doesn’t teach people kindness and compassion, the commenter says, “I’m so glad I got my butt beat by my parents cause it taught me not to do stupid 💩 like that.”

Someone points out the true tragedy, “This is so sad! Don’t they have beers to drink at the waterfront??” Also, it turns out the table cost $10,000, which one person points out is the true crime. 

Others want to know how the Park District could have let this happen. They ask, “Why is the table ultra flammable? This was started with toilet paper?It doesn’t excuse the kids that did this. I’m just thinking of how to engineer our way out of more melted tables.”

We laso have a post about the other incident of public space getting hit with rogue toilet paper. We have this image: 

A commenter informs us, “The TP thrown over the lights caught on fire! Who knew that could happen? 😂” 

That must be some remarkably flammable toilet paper to be able to ignite in the rain and take out a plastic bench. No wonder the Japanese have to smuggle it into America. 

Some people aren’t bothered. One says, “OMG! The kids are frickn ‘ bored. Better this than a lot of other stuff. Remembering being young once? Everyone acts like they never did silly not dangerous stuff when young. I grew up on Bainbridge island in the late 70’s early 80’s and it is super boring living in a rural setting as a teenager. TP and painting roads was pretty much all we had to do. Bainbridge changed and the rich moved in, got so uptight that they passed a law against road painting. Let’s not be uptight and be relieved the kids are still TPing stuff.”

Others worry that TP is a gateway drug. One commenter says, “First, they get hooked on TP, then they move on to the stronger stuff: paper towels. Where will it end?!”

Some people disagree that boredom could lead to such behavior. After all, when we were kids, we fended off boredom in productive, healthy ways. Commenters give some examples. One says, “I’m tired of this ‘kids are bored crap.’ I went to high school in the 70s and my friends and I spent Friday and Saturday nights in the library studying and reciting poetry.”

I grew up in the 90s and also spent time in the library. I would go there with my friends and we’d read to each other the erotic passages from Jackie Collins romance novels and giggle. 

Another says, “Back in the olden days (1980s), we never TP’ed houses or left flaming bags of dog poo on someone’s porch. And we never, ever covered random lawns with a kerbrillion stolen plastic pink flamingos. All we did was play Rubik’s cube and watch MTV…”

And yet another says, “Yeah, my friends and I would pile into my 64 GTO Convertible, and go to the library and recite poetry too. Just ask my mother. That would be her take too.”

And another: “I tried to convince my folks that I belonged to a “Youth Group” that met at the bowling alley on Saturday night. I should have tried the ‘Poetry’ angle”

One person asks, “Didn’t we have weekly keggers? None of us were bored!”

I guess we just grew up in a less flammable environment. 

It sounds like today’s youth are not a horrible aberration and are just like youth have always been. And maybe it’s just the holiday spirit that moved them to decorate town and light fires. We can take solace in the fact that the solstice is past and the sunlight is coming back into the world, so we no longer need to set picnic tables aflame to bring light into the darkness. 

Anna Shomsky
Author: Anna Shomsky

I'm a former teacher and a data engineer living on Vashon Island. My writing has appeared in Five on the Fifth, Women on Writing and on the Post-Culture Podcast. I wrote and produced the radio show Whispers of Vashon for 101.9 KVSH. I’ve had short stories published in the anthologies Island Stories and Chicken Scratchings, as well as through the Open Space Literary Project.

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