What makes the Burton Coffee Stand funny? Check out its bulletin board | Humor

I’m going to let you in on a secret: One of the funniest places on Vashon Island is the Burton Coffee Stand.

Is this because of the vicious, back-stabbing repartee that goes on amongst the three resident wise-guy New Yorkers (and their hangers-on) during “Insult Hour” (8 to 9 a.m. daily)? No. Well, OK, maybe to some degree. But as the owner, Kathy, says, “The only people you amuse are each other.” She is, of course, wrong. We have the best comedy routines since the Borscht Belt, and since most of the comedians from that era are dead, no one can challenge us. A visitor strayed into the stand one day some months ago and she confessed: “I feel like I’ve stumbled onto a secret society.” Or perhaps a mental institution. But I digress.

No, the funniest thing about the Burton Coffee Stand is its bulletin board, which is attached to the door to Kathy’s sanctum sanctorum of espresso-making, a door which she resolutely closes against the rest of us. It’s for her own protection and we do not hold this against her.

Having made this assertion (the one about the bulletin board; are you still with me here?), let me say that it may take a slightly twisted mind to see the humor. I, personally, have no problem with that.

Notices are posted by people announcing events or services of interest to islanders. These are really good people — entrepreneurs, civic organizations and the like — who have no idea how funny they are. For example, from just this week:

Pilates For Life. I don’t know about you, but all I can see is a mean-spirited county judge issuing this sentence and the desperate plaintiff screaming, “Nooo, your honor! Please! Not Pilates for Life! Give me the electric chair, but not THAT!”

Passport to Pain. I take one look at that poster and I immediately want to sign up. Don’t you? Of course you do. This is apparently some “sporting event” in which a group of lunatic sadists have chosen several dozen of the most gruesomely brutal hills on the Island (of which there are many), solely for the entertainment of an even larger group of lunatic masochist bicyclists. What great fun, eh? Oh yeah, sign me up …and while you’re at it, get me an appointment with a knee surgeon.

Afghan Raffle. Now, like you, I try to keep up with current events, but I had NO IDEA things had got so bad in Afghanistan that they had to hold a raffle. I thought they were doing just fine in the opium trade, you know?

Spanish, Art, and Pie Baking Camp. Wouldn’t you have loved to be in on the meeting that came up with this combo?  Here’s someone earnestly saying, “Look, Spanish is America’s second language; we need our children to be able to understand and speak it to be good citizens.” And then someone else says, “Yeah, that’s cool, but I think we should add art!” (What, piñatas?) And someone else says, “I have the perfect idea to top this all off: pie baking!” And they all jump up, high fives all around, and yell, “Winner!”

Remembering Who We Are. Now this is a workshop I can relate to. I don’t know about you, but remembering who I am gets harder with every passing year. Sometimes I have to dig my battered wallet out of my back pocket, put on my very strong reading glasses and stare at the photo on my driver’s license for a while and then — presto! — I remember who I am. Only the guy in the picture looks much younger than the one I see in the mirror in the morning while shaving. I have no idea who he is.

But while all of this week’s postings on the coffee stand’s bulletin board are charming, I have an all-time favorite from some months back:

Birthing From Within. I know I’m just a guy and maybe don’t know a lot about this whole process, but correct me if I’m wrong: Isn’t this how it happens anyway?


— Will North is a Vashon novelist.


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