Only on Vashon – The Weekly Rundown 09/03/2023

We start with  an appreciation post: 

“The ratio of appreciation to vitriol is a bit lopsided, so I came here to say I love this island and I love the folks who inhabit it. Last night, Stupid Bike Night (in my mind, a perfect Vashon event) was held during First Friday so it was packed. Closing the streets for this was genius, and the place was packed with people – all ages – just wandering, eating, laughing, it was fucking lovely.” 

They tell a story about people not stealing their phone, then add “Sure some folks drive too fast or too slow. Sure some people decide to do dumb shit that pisses you off. Have you met people? They can be assholes. But the vast majority of time, we have chosen a spot, protected by a moat and a whimsically operated ferry system(is that a step too far into pollyannaville?). ”

Surprisingly, everyone in the comments agrees, and no one gets mad or offended. 

One commenter asks, “how’s your hangover?”

To which the poster responds, “there are no hangovers in paradise my brother.”

Mostly, we love the characterization of the ferries. One person says, “WSF – Whimsical State Ferries. That’ll help me next time I’m waiting in line. Thanks”

Another islander says, “Yeah I like it here too and I grew up in Hawaii so it must be pretty good. I like the locals in Hawaii a lot more tho. ❤️

Wait, what’s with the heart emoji? That was some serious shade just thrown our way. 

But let’s get back to what the post started with: Stupid Bike Night. So this year my family decided we’d participate. I’ve said before that the ride is ill-named, on account that the bikes are pretty smart. However, my family put the stupid in Stupid Bikes. We knew we wanted to participate, but it wasn’t until Thursday that my youngest daughter and I got a chance to decorate our bikes. We didn’t have any theme in mind, or special materials for that matter, so the theme ended up being, ‘whatever stuff we can find around the house.’ I brought up my ribbon box, which is a shoebox full of gift ribbons that I got at an estate sale  and have to keep hidden or my kids will steal the scissors and tape from the box and tangle all my ribbons. 

My daughter wrapped ribbons and string around her bike, which I then had to unwrap and ask her not to wrap the pedals, just the frame. Then she taped on some newspapers, because what could be stupider than the news, am I right? 

I found some orange diaphanous curtains in the basement, which I wrapped around my bike.  It still looked sad, so I borrowed a stick from Waffles and added that to the back of my bike, and wrapped it in more orange cloth. (I later learned this made it hard to get on the bike.) I then added ribbon and some battery-powered Christmas lights. However, while wrapping up my bike, I think I had the wheel turned the wrong way because as I rode, the handlebars kept slipping around, making it hard to reach my brakes. That was definitely the stupidest aspect of my bike, and possibly more dangerous than the propane-powered bikes that shot fire or the ten foot tall stripper pole bike. 

My husband was planning on wearing his inflatable dinosaur costume, but on Friday morning we stopped at the estate sale and bought a bike trailer, which inspired him to do something even more creative than riding a bike while dressed as a T-rex. 

He got a giant inflatable rainbow, and stuck one end in the trailer. His plan was to wear the other end on his back like a backpack, but the rainbow was too big, and it refused to be contained in such a small space. Ultimately he had to attach it to the front of his bike and forge a hole between the yellow  and orange bands to stick his head out occasionally. 

And speaking of weird, warped, and possibly inflatable and flammable stuff, we have a specialty sale of old Halloween props. The post reads in part, “We used to put on a haunted house here on Vashon Halloween night.

We had live actors, animated characters, and static props. Over a dozen different themes and soundtracks. Multiple fog machines and lighting systems to go with each theme.” They include many images, of which I’ve chosen the tamest and least terrifying. 

In the comments we get some local lore and history. 

One islander reminisced.: “I think you should just keep everything and do it again. I loved hearing grown men scream like little girls. 🤣🤣

Another added: “or running off down the driveway leaving a shoe behind.”

Just because the haunted house is disbanding, doesn’t mean kids aren’t as weird and unsettling as they used to be. One local parent tells us, “My 5 year old just saw this and said “Mom, can I please please please have that stuff for Christmas?!” I have such a little creep of a child. 😂

We have a snapshot of a day-in-the-life of a person waiting for the ferry. 

“Absolutely loved the two white women in their $80,000 Tesla telling each other about how clueless white people are about the disadvantaged who aren’t white. Windows down, the F word about every other. But a rave the dude who stripped down to his underwear and dived for that woman’s car keys. Entertaining afternoon on the Fauntleroy dock.”

Okay, we all thought someone got so mad at the swearing women that he took off his pants and jumped through the window to steal their keys. Turns out these were two unrelated incidents. Someone had accidentally dropped her keys in the water, so a very kind and brave soul got mostly naked, climbed down the dock ladder, and retrieved them. Legendary. 

And one islander asks the important question, “Let me guess… the keys were to the ferry?”

And speaking of people being inappropriate in their cars, we have a driver who posts this: “Saw this in another group and thought about all the entitled “leave earlier”. speed-limit-regulators/ enforcers here on Vashon. Yeah, I’m one of those who will pass over a double yellow line if you’re doing 5 under – and I’m local. 👋 (Of course, it’s a Prius).” They then post this picture of the offending bumper sticker: 

People point out that doing dangerous and illegal things because they are inconvenienced is in fact bad, and they shouldn’t do it. One person calls the poster “self-important.’ 

The poster claims, “being self-important and entitled is policing how fast other people drive by driving 5-15 below the limit and forcing others to as well simply because you feel they should and for some reason you find it annoying they’re in a hurry when you’re not.”

This gets my goat because someone behaving differently than you do in public does not mean they are policing you. Sometimes, you just have to live in a world where people do things differently than you do, which may occasionally inconvenience you, but that doesn’t mean you are being policed. 

One person gives us this perspective, “What’s the rush? Haven’t you heard the boat will be late, if it even shows up.”

We have those who say you should never drive slowly. One points out: “The person behind them could be in labor for all they know.”

I never thought of it that way. Now I’m going to always assume the person behind me is in labor and needs to get to the ferry ASAP, which will definitely not exacerbate my anxiety. 

The comment garners this response: “seriously? How about considering these possibilities: someone is tired or ill, or worried about smacking into rut-crazed deer, or admiring the scenery, or elderly, or just not in the mood to go fast?”

Oh dang, now I’m going to be worried that everyone driving in front of me is tired and ill, and we’re surrounded not just by deer but by rut-crazed deer. Driving is hard enough when you’re just focused on the road and all the other cars. Now I have to think about every other driver’s possible physical and emotional states and adjust my speed accordingly. 

When people push back on the poster, saying that it’s okay to go slow, the poster says, “So everyone else should have to slow down too because some people moved here for a slower life? Maybe I moved here to eat psilocybin mushrooms all day, I don’t expect the rest of the inhabitants to all wait behind me in line at Thriftway while I decide which chocolate bar looks like it tastes more purple.”

Brother, I will wait for you to choose the best chocolate as long as it takes. 

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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