Monthly Archives: January 2012

Bumper Stickers

I have bumper stickers on my car.

I can see your cringing from here.  Unless you are like me, one of the be-stickered.

My bumper stickers both relate to running – one is for the Hash House Harriers, a foot outline with “On-On” written in it.  Someone once told me that I put my “No-No” sticker on upside down.  Now I assume that anyone behind me believes that a) I have an affinity for stickers that look like feet telling a toddler not to wipe mashed potatoes on the dog, and that b) I cannot install said stickers upright.

No-no?

The other bumper sticker is the OBX marathon bumper sticker – I like it because I’ve run the marathon every year, since its inception.  It falls under the “My Kid is an Honor Student” bumper sticker category.  Hey, person behind me, it may look like I don’t know how to stay in my lane, or go the speed limit, and yes, I probably should check to see if my car is burning oil.  But, look, I did something good!  I ran a lot!  And/or my kid got mostly A’s and B’s!

Listen, that's a lot of miles, driver behind me. A lot!

So I have bumper stickers that fall under the informative, and/or confusing categories.  But there is another category of bumper stickers, one that is far more prevalent.  In my unscientific study (I thought back to my drive earlier today), I would estimate that 50% of bumper stickers fall into the “let’s try to piss off the guy behind me” category.

I doubt that my stickers have ever pissed anyone off.  Maybe someone who is jealous of my awesome running ability.  Or maybe an ultra-marathoning purist, who laughs at anyone who would run only 26.2 miles and dare to put a sticker on their car bragging about it.  Ultra-marathoners run 26.2 miles between Gatorade stops.*

However, there are “those” stickers.  You know the ones.  Nobama!

AMIRITE????

I don’t see the point of these.  The very best response you can get from them is the person behind you saying “You’re damn right!”  But these people already agree with you.  I don’t think anyone has ever had their opinion changed via cogent bumper-sticker argument.

UNLESS, that is, I implement my GENIUS (patent-not-pending) ideas, as outlined below.

    1. Acquire and affix bumper stickers of those ideas that I hate.
    2. Drive like an asshole.
    3. Slowly associate the ideas that I hate with bad driving in the minds of the people behind me.
    4. OR
      1. Acquire and affix bumper stickers of those ideas that I hate.
      2. EXCEPT not on MY car.  On OTHER people’s cars.

Nothing like a couple of minutes of scraping off a bumper sticker to fix an idea in someone’s mind… as something they, too, hate.

*I admit that sometimes I get mock-pissed off about 13.1 stickers.  “Why would anyone brag about completing HALF a race?” I say, my neck veins mock-bulging, my knuckles mock-whitening as I mock-rage-grip the wheel.  Then I mock-mutter under my breath for twenty minutes

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Memories

On my 30th birthday, I ran a 30 kilometer trail race.  I spent each kilometer thinking about that year of my life.

My first realization was that my memory is pretty terrible.

My second realization was that I routinely have the realization that my memory is pretty terrible, and that I should do something about it.  Six months later, I’m writing a blog to memorialize my life, my thought process, things I want to look back on.

My third realization was that my first concrete memory is from when I was two.  At the most.

Being a military family, we moved relatively often, and before I turned three, we had left the place of my birth.  But, while I lived there, I had a best friend, who lived next door, and who was also one and a half.

We had so much in common, it was natural to be best friends.  We were the same height, we both enjoyed cookies, our moms knew each other.

My first, and only, memory of living in Virginia Beach is going to my best friend’s house, tipping over a barrel of toys, getting scared, and only getting one cookie, when I was promised two.

My daughter is three years old now, almost four.  I ran twenty six kilometers before I thought about her birth.  The last four kilometers of the race were brutal, the sun pounding down, the race seemingly all uphill, rocks leaping from the ground to trip me.  But somewhere, in those brief moments while I staggered to the finish line, lays my daughter’s first memory.

I hope it is something good.  I fear that it is something scary, unsettling or disappointing.

The other day my cousin Whitney came to visit our house, sleeping over on her way to New York city to have professional headshots taken.  I wanted to ensure that Madeline wouldn’t interrupt her sleep, as excited as she was by the visit, so I told Madeline that Whitney wouldn’t play with her the next day if Madeline made noise at night or left her room.

The next day Whitney had to leave early to make her appointment in New York, and Madeline didn’t see her in the morning.  Then things ran late in the city, and Whitney got back to our house after Madeline had gone to sleep.

Madeline asked, “Why didn’t Whitney play with me?  I stayed in my room, and I was quiet!”

I hope that’s not her first memory.

We take Madeline to fun places, have her do exciting things.  We are members of the Lehigh Valley Zoo, and when we’re on our way home we ask her what her favorite animal at the zoo was.  “They don’t have bears,” she says.  “They don’t have lions.  Or giraffes.”  Will her first memory be being disappointed at the boring zoo, filled with enclosures that could hold awesome animals, but instead have boring old kangaroos?*

*Note: I think Kangaroos are awesome.  Madeline apparently wishes they were bears.

Minivan Stick Figure Families – A Few Observations

In Order of Importance

In (Implied) Order of Importance

Amongst my friends, there is a general sense of unease about minivan stick figure families.  We laugh, both because of them (“Did you see how many kids they have?”) and about them (“I want to see one that’s just one lady and seventeen cats!”)

Our laughter is tinged with desperation, though.  A touch of mania at the edge, like the laugh of a woman in a horror movie who is denying the existence of what she has just seen out of the corner of her eye.

We fear that we are the minivan stick figure families, just without the stickers.

This is a reasonable fear.  We are young families, with minivans or their butched-up cousins, SUVs.  We have young children, we have pets, we have the empty canvas of our rear windows beckoning.  We have the creeping realization that we might never receive another award (a horrible thought to us, the honor-roll first-team-varsity junior-overachievers – who aren’t so junior anymore).

We have begun to think – is this all there is?  And if so, should I award myself some stickers to commemorate it?

I believe that minivan stick figure families are the replacement for the trophy shelf that the self-esteem generation had in their childhood bedrooms.  Instead of the debate trophy, here’s a stick-limbed girl in a tutu.  Instead of a science fair medal, here’s a cartoon representation of my cat!  Congratulate me, I manage to keep all of these people and animals represented by my stick figures alive!

Of course, there are also the less prestigious stick figures.  If you were the type to collect participation trophies and “most improved” medals, you end up with a stick figure of yourself shopping.

“Hello, stranger driving the car behind me!  Though our interaction today will be brief, fleeting and mostly meaningless (much like my life), the one thing I would like you to know about me, above all else, is that I enjoy shopping.  You can tell because there is a stick figure of me holding a shopping bag.  Also, I had sex at least three times, as indicated by the stick figure spawn to my right.”

Actually, the minivan stick figure family people are correct.  If that’s the message you want to broadcast to the world, the cartoon stickers you bought and attached to the window are much more succinct than a bumper sticker with the above paragraph.  The font size would have to be tiny.

There is one more thing that bothers me about the minivan stick figure families – and once I tell you what it is, you will never be able to forget it, so please leave now if you want to keep your unsullied mental image of the people who apply these stickers to their vehicles.

Ready?  You still with me?  Okay.  I have never seen a minivan stick figure family that didn’t put the husband stick figure first.

Not that big of a deal?  Maybe there’s a good reason for it, like the stickers just happen to be ordered that way because they were done oldest to youngest, or tallest to shortest, or alphabetical?  Maybe some are.  But not every husband out there is the oldest, tallest, most alphabetically-forward person in their family.  But every minivan stick figure family has the husband first.

First, as in the primary position.  Premiere.  Most important.

And the thing that interests me about this positioning is that it’s not the man putting these stickers on his minivan – it’s the woman.

Men are too busy hanging Truck Nutz off their hitches – which says an entirely different thing about their psychology.