It’s amazing how many messages come from bumper stickers. I suppose this is more an urban issue where traffic piles up and the opportunity to read your neighbor’s messages presents itself. Out on the interstates of the midwest I don’t think folks are reading one another’s bumpers at 75 mph. But back in the cities and towns of the East Coast, well, we do read exposed bumpers. It’s hard to look away, like plumbers’ butt cracks. You look and think it’s a LARGE rabbit peeking out of a pair of Levis with a tool belt above its head, and then, in a traumatizing instant, you realize you are looking into the abyss of aparajeanius crackus majorus. “OOOhhhh, noooooo.” A moment of paralysis freezes the nerves and muscles of your neck, and there you are– stuck in traffic reading weird stuff that you did not seek out. It’s pandemic, Blog Nation. Someone must tighten his toolbelt and stand up for Just Us or go to court for public lewdness.
Yesterday I was trying to be mindful and pure on my drive in to work. Route 30 was blanketed in fog. I could see maybe 300 yards ahead. All drivers had their lights on at 8:30 a.m. I thought everyone was being rather respectful and cautious. The calm was briefly refreshing and allowed my mind to wander onto other topics beyond mere survival. As I got to the edge of town, where two lanes merge into one, a young weasel boy in a silver VW Go whipped in front of me without a blinker or honk or wave. He had the sock hat and headphones on, radar detector mounted on his windshield, and the Great Lakes foghorn exhaust system. I said aloud to myself, “You little punk!” So much for my mindfulness and purity. I was right behind him and considered ever so briefly ramming him into the McDonald’s on the right for a new Less-Than-Happy-Meal. It has no toy, no burger in the bun, no drink or fries. It’s basically just a pickle. His bumper sticker was actually on his rear windshield. It read, “How’s my driving? Call 1-800- Eat- Sh_ _.” How fitting. How’d he like a pickle on his Sh_ _ sandwich? I followed the guy through town, and no kidding, in front of the courthouse where jurors lined up for the metal detector, weasel boy revved up the foghorn and blew it up for a cop to hear him. Smug. Cocky. Should have rammed him. I called the weasel’s sticker number, and guess what? No answer. It’s a scam. Well, ding dang dong!!! No justice.
This morning I was behind a Camry with two stickers. On the right was a shiny new one in full color. It said, “My son is a U.S. Marine.” It had a nice picture of the Marine insignia. On the left was a matching female sticker with a medic symbol in the middle. It read, “My daughter saves lives. What does your daughter do?” How nice. I wondered about the woman driving, presumbably the proud mother. “What does your daughter do?” Isn’t that a bit snarky? I sensed a self righteousness about her super meaningful children with the second part: “What does your daughter do?” Isn’t this code for ‘My daughter is more valuable than your daughter.’ I wonder if I could get a sticker made that said, “My daughter is a Marine surgeon who sewed up your son in Iraq. What does your daughter do again?” But what’s the point? I hope bumper stickers fade and fall off like temporary tattoos did, the ones that came in Cracker Jacks. I’m all for free speech, I just don’t like listening to morons. I know, not pure or mindful, Bloggestradas. But what am I to do?
[Robert Audette drove a loud cut up green 1958 Volkswagen Bug with a bumper sticker that proclaimed, “There is no gravity. The world sucks.” That was awesome back in the day, comparable to the silver Go weasel. I guess Robert was a weasel too. He had loud pipes and was a public hazard. He was the first person I ever heard of who had ADD. He looked strangely like a young Mick Jagger. I once mistakenly flipped his mom the middle finger. Perhaps that was my own one finger salute to ADD. I have no idea. HMMM isn’t this the rat calling the weasel a rodent? I am full of contradictions in my quest for justice today.]
Lately I see everyone runs marathons and half marathons, designated by 26.2 and 13.1 stickers. ‘Nough said, don’t you think. Translation, “I am an Iron Man…and you are not.” I’ve seen 50k and 100 but rarely. They are Iron Men. I wonder what reaction I’d get if I had a .71k or 2.34 or 3.14 with a black runner on a pink oval background. The oval bumper sticker seems to be in ascendancy nowadays. RB, OBX, OCMD, ATL, EI, MV, MT, MN, CM, TN, and on and on. It reminds me of airport abbreviations that are tagged to your luggage. I recall a similar phenomenon when snow skiers would wear their lift tags around to show everyone that they were skiiers or else very forgetful. While I’m on this tangent, when did we American consumers begin to advertise for places and radio stations and bands and clothes and motor cycles? I thought it was the manufacturer’s job to take care of advertising not the consumer’s. Shouldn’t we at least get a discount for branding ourselves? Here is a thought: real authority does not need to brag, boast, advertise, hawk, blare, bandstand, etc. I know Rolls Royce is a fine car and I’ve never seen an ad for one. I know Nelson Mandela is a fine man and I’ve never heard him pull a Donald Trump to promote his excellence. Real authority does not have to. Talking celebrity hairpieces do.
Now political and religious speech I can understand being on a bumper sticker. This way we don’t have to talk directly to one another about these incendiary topics, and thus we reduce violence through advertising. You can show me CoEXist on your bumper and not annoy me with some long winded doctrine. You can do the Darwin symbol or the Ichthys fish symbol and I get where you are on evolution or creationism. Not sure why you feel compelled to such a level of commitment that you want to flash your nifty symbol in my face. I suppose the drivers feel they are witnessing to the unbelieving audience behind them. Why not put these symbols on the side of your car where there is a sense of equality in two lanes of stuck traffic and real conversation can take place sideways? You know, like back in ’80 when Ted Kennedy ran against Carter in the primaries. Who could forget, “Ted Kennedy: A Blonde in Every Pond”.
But my favorites are the get out of a ticket affiliation stickers– the Mason regalia, the Fraternal Order of Police, Police Benevolent Society, Mafia Hit Man Inside, American Legion, Mothers of State Troopers Association, Grandmothers of State Troopers and Municipal Cops Society, etc. Now those actually have a real application if you happened to be pulled over for speeding. These are home cooked, fully waranteed justice flags that pay for themselves in six months.
“License and registration, Sir. Nice bumper stickers you got there. Clocked you at 80. Radar sucks, man.”
“Officer Audette, is it? Anyone ever tell you that you bear a striking resemblance to Mick Jagger?”