Only on Vashon – The Weekly Rundown 12/03/2023

The candy cane is back. Every year volunteers hang tens of heavy candy canes on our telephone poles, and every year, someone complains about the ugly duckling cane that isn’t crooked enough. 

We have this post about it:  “Someone please fix this freaking candy cane. Every year it just gets put up.  How can they just put it up without fixing it?!?!  Is there no one on the crew with OCD!  I mean, I have very mild OCD and ARGH!!!”

First we have to establish who the crew is that puts them up, so we know on whose behalf we should be offended. Lots of people say it’s the Eagles, who only have one person licensed to go in the bucket. And has anyone mentioned that the canes are heavy? You can’t just bend them back into shape like a pipe cleaner. You need to reforge it in the mouth of an erupting volcano.  

But wait! Many of us like the cane because it’s weird, and isn’t the first commandment Keep Vashon Weird? That candy cane is us, and we would hate to see it conform to someone else’s idea of beauty. 

Then someone asks who gave the candy cane viagra. 

Folks, I’m only, like, ten comments in, and there are 136 at this point. This is going to be a long day. 

Okay, back to the mystery of ‘where do the candy canes come from?’ It turns out it’s not just the Eagles. We get this expert information: “PSE does it, and we have two bucket-capable lineman living and working here. They’re both wonderful and one of them is so hunky.”

As we slog further down through the comments, battle lines are drawn. You either hate the candy cane, or you hate anyone who would post about the candy cane. I’m like Switzerland, in that I am completely neutral and also will accept suitcases full of money in any currency. 

Some people bring up the fact that the original poster mentioned their OCD.  One person says, “THIS is affecting you and your “mild ocd”. Wow. It’s a big world out there, good luck. 👍🏼” 

We then want to know if this comment was meant to be snarky or if we’re reading unkindness into it. Another commenter summarizes it this way: “I get the feeling she’s implying that those of us with OCD or in my case PTSD shouldn’t expect the whole world to bend to our needs and whims. At some point we all have to be tolerant of discomfort.”

Then the commenter clarifies that no, they were not being that gracious.They say, “full snark. I stand with the Candy Cane’s right to be fabulously imperfect and shine with great delight. It shouldn’t have to bend back and conform to the norm for no one.”

Others are appalled that someone would post about something so minor.  The internet is for sharing the endless glaring cruelty of the world, not for minor irritations and jokes. One person says, “A little entitled are we? Some of us are worried about paying for our heating bills, and food, and prescriptions… 🙄 Merry happy holidays/haunica/christmas/Kwanzaa/festivus/bah humbug to you too.”

First off, that is the most remarkable spelling of Hanukkah I have ever seen.  Second, I have nothing to follow up with. I included this comment solely because that spelling made me laugh. 

The original poster says,  “You’re right. I am wealthy and have no other worries. LOL. This is a rant page. This is something that has bugged me for years. So I ranted about it. Happy Holidays.” I love that they see the humor and don’t get offended.  I also love that they say  they are rich. Have I mentioned yet that I would love a suitcase full of money? (accepting all currencies, foreign and domestic)

One islander searches old posts and finds that in 2021, the same person posted the same rant, only the candy cane was on a different telephone pole that year. I would like to thank both the poster and the commenter for their dedication. I don’t really know what they’re dedicated to, but there’s definitely an intensity there. 

This leads some people to believe that the poster must be seething with hatred year after year, their mouth frothing over at the thought of this candy cane, and that the anger has so consumed them that they were driven to the Pit of Despair known as Vashonites Rant to post about it. When the poster says they mean no offense to anyone and aren’t actually mad and were in fact just being a little silly, people say, But this is a rants page! You must be mad!

We then argue about what it means to rant, and if a rant necessarily has to be angry. Someone goes so far as to post the dictionary definition of rant: 

Okay, hear me out. Every use of every word exists within a context, and the dictionary can’t possibly encompass every usage, especially when the words take on new meaning within a small cultural subgroup. So ‘rant’ may technically mean an angry diatribe, but on the Vashonites Rants FB page, the word has come to have a more open meaning that encompass any post that’s opinionated and wouldn’t quite fit in on a page where most posts are offering firewood for sale or selling wind chimes. 

Now that we’ve exhausted the breadth of human emotion over the issue of the wonky candy cane, we are ready to start solving the problem outlined in the original post. Many people say things along these lines: “Maybe we should volunteer to help next year. In the famous words of Rosie the Riveter.. “We Can Do It”💪

And loads of people agree to volunteer, including the original poster.

So the post led to a positive place: it encouraged people to volunteer and informed people how much work goes into setting up the holiday decorations. It gave us all a feeling of solidarity with an object that doesn’t quite fit right, but is loved for being special. And most importantly, it let us know that at any moment we may see a hot guy in a bucket working on a light pole.

All this positivity leads us to describe the beauty of our beloved candy cane. One person says, “Christmas decorations should be used for years, show the loving use they’ve had, bring back memories, and start conversations and stories. I’d say that candy cane is darn near perfect. Please leave it alone.”

Now I will always see the candy cane as something special and cherished. Let’s just read one last comment.  Someone says, “It looks like a creepy finger” Nevermind. Smith that thing into shape ASAP. 

We finally learn that the crew is aware of the Candy Cane Situation. One person says, “The crew had bets on how long until someone posted a Rant about it. Someone just won their side of the bet.”

Whoever posts a pic of the wonky candy cane first next year wins. 

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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