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.