Those moments on Vashon that become the stuff of lore | Humor

There are Island moments, and then there are did-that-just-happen? Island moments, the ones that you pass down to your children and grandchildren as family myths, told so many times they morph into wondrous tales that leave listeners awestruck and incredulous.

I had one last week. No, two.

We pull onto the ferry after a long, six-day family reunion in faraway California — so glad to be in our weird little state-run, union-gig wormhole portal across the great waters to home. We’re at the front of the boat, right side.

“Now arriving Vashon, this is Vashon Island, this boat is going out of service, etc.” I turn the key: “Click, click, click.” Oh no, please no.

If you’ve never had your battery die on the boat, you haven’t lived. It’s awesome.

We moved to the Island in 1989 with a VW bus, and it would die on a weekly basis. You had to squirm underneath with a hammer and  whack the solenoid, or push-start it by coercing the help of sympathetic, competent, normal people. Then they got to tell their kids about helping some moronic suffering artists with a flamboyantly painted van — neat!

This was before the yellow boxy ferry mini-truck thing that is so useful these days. Which brings us back to our story.

“Click, click, click.” OK, keep your head down, nobody knows your new pick-up. The ferry worker comes over, since we’re in the front, and gives us that “you pathetic idiot” look I haven’t seen in 15 years. OK, three.

I make the mistake of looking up just as a particularly together (can I say smug?) Island friend drives by in their impossibly spotless new-model car and smiles sympathetically. Up ‘til then, it was the worst moment.

The cars all pull around us, and a ferry worker comes rumbling onto the boat in the yellow thing. They are glad to help; it’s fun to drive the yellow thing. They pull up behind, and the driver calls: “OK, I’m gonna push you up the ramp, then gun it, then stop, and you let out the clutch!”

“Yup”, I say, “done this before.”

They bump us lightly, we get to the top, then we speed up, but don’t seem to be “released” yet. Then there’s a queasy, squealing machine-whine behind us, followed by a jerking stop and someone screaming: “I’m stuck on your bumper!”

I jump out of the car and run back to see that in fact, the tire of the yellow thing is inexplicably lodged onto our bumper. The ferry worker says again, “I’m stuck on your bumper!” — which, I decide not to point out, is redundant.

They reach down, yank and come up holding something metal, saying: “This thing was stuck under the accelerator!” — which of course explains everything. I look back to notice scores of people in the ferry line craning their necks to get a look at the commotion. Some seem to have cameras.

OK, several hours later, this is super funny.

Pretty sure I’ve used up my absurd factor for the week, we head to KVI on Sunday for what feels like the last day of summer. Late morning, as a bank of fog still hovers over the beach, it is like Avalon, at the lowest tide I can remember.

The sand spit is out, so we all run down there, and since the tide is still going out, I drop my Crocs on that first bit of smooth sand. We run, we cavort, the fog is burning off.

Many minutes later, someone screams, “Dude, your shoes!” — and I look back to see the spittin’ image of Jeff Bridges in “The Big Lebowski,” an old pot-bellied hippie guy, pointing 50 feet out into the Sound at my Crocs floating away, and he says, like I need to hear it again, “your shoes, dude!”

My daughter and her friend run breakneck to save them and get one. I run, too — unable to stop myself since they cost $32 and I just got them — deeper and deeper, in my clothes, into the horrible freezing water, then dive and swim to retrieve my plastic shoe.

Everyone who observes this is having serious bladder issues from laughter.

Why do you live here? No really, why? Is it for that only-on-Vashon thing?

If you’re here because of the weirdness factor, that ineffable unique-afying feature that makes our rock rock, then remember this: Don’t forget to keep appreciating it as it happens; you don’t want to lose your edge.

Or your shoes.


— Kevin Joyce is an Island writer, singer and comedian.



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