Tuesday, May 17, 2005

If you can read this...you can read!

I was following a car this morning that looked like it had been attacked by the Bumper Sticker Fairy on a bad PMS day. It had seven stickers that I could see, not counting any that may have been affixed to the sides or splayed across the headlights. Morning traffic being slow, I had ample time to read them all and reflect on why they were there. The cacophony of commercialism included stickers for a bank, insurance agency, pizza place, auto repair joint, pool accessary retail outlet, and, oh, I can't even remember the other two. I got to wondering, what could possibly be the motive behind this display? I am not opposed to the bumper sticker concept per se. One of the main reasons we have none on our vehicles is that it would mean I'd have to bend over. So our lack of stickers is hardly a virtue. It's more like a Laziness Perk. There are some types of stickers that I understand, and serve as tools of communication. For example, political messages ("Vote Like Me!"), social statements ("Think Like Me!"), or obnoxious epithets ("Stay Away From Me!"). Also there are people who want to identify their honor student, sports team, alma mater or school their kid goes to. In fact, we have one of these sitting on our kitchen counter as I type...but it may not make it to the van unless the bumper threatens to separate from the car. Then I can use it as tape! So I was still wondering about the reason for the plethora of plugs on this guy's ancient white Chrysler LeBaron. He couldn't possibly work for all those places, could he? No, there had to be a more compelling motive. I know certain stores offer prizes if your car is spotted with their signage. Perhaps he was hoping to win an insulated mug with a bank logo, or a free oil change, or an extra large pizza with everything on it! You could hardly argue with such a consumerist impulse. I am in favor of free pizzas no matter how they are acquired (as long as no federal laws are violated, of course.) Don't imagine I'm making fun of commercialism. If it weren't for commercialism none of our sports venues would have names. We'd be referring to "the stadium" or "the field" or "the ballpark" and we could all end up in downtown Cleveland if we didn't know which one we were talking about. In fact I think we should rent out the name of our country in the interest of paying down the federal deficit. The honor should go to the nation's biggest company at this point, WAL-MART, so we could be the United States of America brought you you by Wal-Mart. The motto, instead of E Plurbus Unum, could be "Always Low Wages. Always." With General Motors and Ford stock recently downgraded to junk bond status that's the best we can do. Anyway, I personally can be seen on any given morning wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the logos of defunct Buffalo area radio stations. (The stations still exist, of course, but instead of calling themselves Q-102.5 or WBUF they are now something much more relentlessly upbeat.) It may not be fashionable, but I guarantee you the shirt is clean! However if you catch me after lunch I may have the outline of peanut butter and jelly colored handprints. So just smile and keep your distance. I still remember the bumper sticker on my parents' car from the late seventies. It was a KB15 sticker with a patriotic motif in the shape of a number one. My brothers and I anxiously awaited the moment when "The Big KB" (WKBW-AM Radio 1520) would report our license number on the air so we could rush to a phone and call in to claim our prize. Remember, this was prior to the cell phone era. What if we were on the thruway? What if we were in Canada? We had only 15 minutes to make the call! Alas, we never won. I fully expect that one day soon my sons will develop an obsession with bumper stickers and we will have ones featuring Scooby-Doo, Ninja Turtles or the local Babe Ruth Baseball League. I am fine with that, as long as I don't have to personally bend over. I would still like someone to offer me a free prize. I could use a tote bag.

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