Sitting in a car, moving at average to below average highway speeds, making my way to and from work is one of my least favorite things to do. Spending between an hour and a half to two and a half hours staring at the back of various vehicles sometimes makes me consider taking a huge pay cut to open up a lemonade stand in front of our home, just to avoid the ten-plus hours I waste each week scanning radio stations for semi-palatable music in an effort to keep myself moderately sane during my commute.
Lately, I have taken to entertaining myself with anything people have decided to do to decorate the back of their car. This pastime, if nothing else, may make for awkward small talk fodder if I ever find myself in such an undesirable position, and at its best, may make for semi-entertaining storytelling.
There are, of course, numerous fairly clever bumper stickers:
“If this sticker is getting smaller, the light has probably turned green.”
“If you can read this, you are getting too close.”
“Suburbia: Where they cut down trees and names streets after them.”
“I BREAK FOR… Oh, $h!t, no breaks!”
“You! Out of the gene pool!”
“My other car sticker is funny.”
“Republicans for Voldimort”
Yet, bumper stickers are not the only way one can express one’s self through the usage of the back of one’s car as a palate. I haven’t witnessed any incredibly clever uses of this space yet, but I have experienced numerous entertaining moments made possible by my inept interpretation of other drivers’ messages.
This morning I was driving behind a pick-up truck with a hard shell cover for its bed. On the shell’s window was a giant orange decal of a flaming soccer ball speeding towards the iconic bust of Che. I imagine this person was a fan of both Che and soccer, but isn’t it a bid disrespectful to depict a scene where it looks like Che is about to be decapitated by an errant meteoritesque piece of sports equipment?
Two days ago I passed a mini-van that had a giant decal adorning the upper third section of its rear window professing their enthusiasm for underwater hockey! Of course, I thought this was wildly cleaver and ironic, as hockey would be impossible to play underwater. Apparently I was mistaken, and according to youtube, people actually play this wildly exciting and extreme sport.
Well, that was ironic.
However, my favorite misinterpretation of a message came a few weeks ago as I was driving behind a Ford Bronco from the late eighties or early nineties. While stuck in traffic on my way to work, I glanced at the license plate frame, which had a partially obstructed bottom line due to its massive chrome bumper. I read it slowly:
ARE OUTER THAN YOURS”
WOW! I thought to myself, That is beautiful. Only in San Francisco would we see a bumper sticker with such affirmation for one’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered grandson. If my son or daughter were to come out, I only hope I can be just as supportive.
I continued to move along at a snails pace, unconcerned with my inevitable tardiness. I was in a state of euphoric calm, certain that the world was a beautiful place, and secure in the knowledge that all other concerns in my life were trivial. Continuing to peruse the back of the Ford Bronco, my eyes moving from bumper sticker to bumper sticker, I read:
“Proud to be an American,” written in giant white letters over an American flag waving in the wind.
Ummm… okay. Interesting juxtaposition with the license plate frame, but not unheard of.
“Gun control is a steady hand,” written on one of their bumper stickers.
… something doesn’t seem to be adding up, I thought, feeling a bit guilty for stereotyping conservatives, and my accompanying disbelief that patriotism, the NRA, and gay pride could coexist harmoniously in the same space.
I glanced back over at the license plate frame of utopian origins for answers. What am I missing here? How else could I interpret this partially obstructed message?
The license plate frame actually read…
ARE CUTER THAN YOURS”
With a quiet chuckle to myself, and a couple shakes of my head in disbelief, I slowly made my way to work with slightly less hope than minutes before, but with a little more humor to lighten my day.