Saturday, October 22, 2016

'Snot Fair

Two recent related letters to the editor reminded me of my childhood, which only makes sense. Because why would they remind me of your childhood?

In the first, Trump supporter Gary W. Christenson bemoans the fact that hardly anyone but him has a political bumper sticker anymore, or a flag decal on their car, and this is a sign that nobody cares about the sorry state of our country. He was also bitter about the greed of we, the people. I'm not sure it is a sign of anything. I think the absence of bumper stickers is less important than the fact that people keep using "we the people" as the object of a sentence. But the gentleman is correct: you don't see many bumper stickers anymore. There are people who festoon their cars with enough stickers as to leave no doubt whatsoever what kind of people they are, or road-rage targets they would like to become. But mostly our cars are unadorned. They're $40,000 items, and not the old family Rambler.

When I was a kid there were tons of bumper stickers. Some were political but most were advertising roadside attractions. They weren't necessarily voluntary stickers.  They were just promotional barnacles your car would pick up by virtue of parking in a lot for an attraction. Take the kids to see Luray Caverns, and you'll come back out to find a gigantic Luray Caverns sticker splayed across your back bumper. This was very common in those days because there weren't nearly as many lawyers as there are now.

The political bumper stickers of the time were probably helpful to alert you to the folks you shouldn't talk politics with in the church basement, if you didn't already know. Politics has always been contentious. But it is more so now. Before, you'd just know that the guy with the Nixon-Lodge sticker wasn't your kind of people. Now, you can safely assume, no matter which side you're on, that the owner of the opposing-camp bumper sticker is personally in favor of ushering in the Apocalypse, and must be burned with the fire of a thousand suns.

Which brings us to the second letter to the editor, in response to the first. Kit Hogan complained, and rightly so, that every time she put a bumper sticker on her car "in this liberal state," she got her car keyed, or windshield wipers ripped off, or vulgar notes left on the window. Worst of all, a "Veterans For Bush" bumper sticker resulted in her car being covered in phlegm.

There's an image.

This also reminded me of a time in my childhood when I was more or less covered in phlegm. I had a series of really bad colds in fifth grade and at one point I felt like a snot factory in boom times. Mom gave me one of those little Kleenex-packs with two or three tissues in it which were completely overwhelmed by the first hour of school. After that, every sneeze resulted in a fluid spill which I believe I decanted onto the bottom of my desk and was otherwise helpless to mop up, a foreshadowing of personal feminine-hygiene horrors yet to come. It was dreadful. And I'm not proud of this, but I developed a fantasy of a world in which my grades would be determined by the quantity of phlegm I could produce. There would be something like an S&H Green Stamp collection book involved, with little squares that could be topped up over time (snot left to dry, in the viral stage, boogers in the healthy times). At the end of the school year I could proudly show off my completed pages, two pages per grade increment, say, with a full book earning an A-plus.

It is remarkable that I was ever considered college material.

But I did learn enough not to put political bumper stickers on my car.

38 comments:

  1. Here in Delaware, people do sport bumper stickers, even occasionally of a political nature. I have to say, when I am driving behind someone with a Trump sticker, it makes me wish I had a laser cannon on the front of my car. I used to wish for a battering ram, but then I realized that a laser cannon would completely obliterate the vehicle and occupant. No corpus delecti, hence no crime was committed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is that true? If there's no body, there's no crime? I need to rethink some of my more pacifist positions.

      Delete
  2. No bumper stickers here, either. Every day your car is seen by hundreds of people, and any position you take on anything will offend somebody Why risk the hassle?

    They can occasionally be interesting, though, Years ago I was stopped for a moment behind a pickup truck and I noticed it had a bumper sticker saying "Lingua Latina Semper Servabitur" (the Latin language will live forever). Somewhere out there I have a kindred spirit, even if in a pickup truck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My dad thoroughly approved of any boy I brought around who could speak Latin. Or chop wood. Best not to tell him what else he could do.

      Delete
  3. Did you know that one of the bumper stickers in the first photo says "booger?"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Man, that's just about perfect for this post, right?

      Delete
  4. Drives me crazy I can't make out what's written in the intersection of that Venn diagram.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That car gets parked in the next street over. I'll pop over and have a look and get back to you.

      Delete
    2. It says "Music I used to like".

      It's amazing what you can find on the internet, innit?

      Delete
    3. Does this mean I don't have to get out of my cushy chair?

      Delete
    4. just so they don't offer you the 'COMFY CHAIR' oh no!

      Delete
  5. I'm feeling a little green thinking about what else kids used to collect at the bottom of their desks, as you put it, in our little two-room rural school. Just you never mind, I don't want to talk about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think our immune systems got good and charged up, as opposed to modern children leading antiseptic lives.

      Delete
  6. A lot of people here have so many damn' "I've been to..." stickers all over their windows, bumpers, aerials they can't now see where they're going TO.
    I did get a sticker once, but The Man will not let me put it on our car.Not because he's of a religious bent. He just hates stickers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a Birdathon sticker. It peels right off. They make sticky things a lot nicer these days.

      Delete
  7. Sigh.
    On the snot front I am sure I was taught that matter can neither be created nor destroyed. So why don't I disappear after moving into the snot production business?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes it does feel as though there's more coming out than there was room for in my face. Seemed a lot worse when I was a wee one.

      Delete
  8. I delighted in your post! When I want to make a political statement, I take out the '71 VW bus (instead of the car from this century). No stickers on it (besides the one showing my enthusiasm for AAA Towing) but by golly it can haul 9 people to a peace march or a Snot Fair.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey. Not even a Gene McCarthy daisy? (I still have a button.)

      Delete
  9. Wasn't there that female comedienne who said something about nobody wants to hear from you so why would they want to read your T-shirt...or bumper sticker...or whatever. I know, I should look up that quote and quit rambling.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have a magnetic bumper sticker that says: My cat is a democrat. Dangerous here in these times and I once noticed the man stopped behind me in traffic taking a photo of it. He admired it? He wanted to pull out his gun? I have no idea!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always figured most cats are Independents. Not ours of course.

      Delete
    2. Magnetic bumper stickers are extremely useful. I don't like to stick things permanently on my car, so it's nice to have something that comes off easily. I've even found a place that sells bumper-sticker-sized flexible magnets, so that I can put my own stickers on them.

      Delete
    3. Then you can just whip them off at any given intersection, if the vibe ain't right.

      Delete
  11. I agree people don't put stickers and such on their cars anymore because it lowers the resale value, unless your selling to cousin Bubba in a redneck/hillbilly area where they seem to love those things.
    With people these days changing cars more often than I change my socks, they don't want anything more than the original shiny duco on there.
    When I was a kid the family car often lasted from the first baby to the last wedding, it didn't much matter what it looked like after a few years.
    There's a cartoon in our Sunday Paper today that reminds me of you. I'll see if I can photograph it and post it on my blog next Tuesday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh god--I hope it isn't the snot story that the cartoon is about.

      Delete
  12. Oops, that should be "you're selling to..."

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm about to put a Hillary sticker on my car, here in central Illinois. Wish me luck.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I hated losing my many bumpersnickers when I sold my cars so I now make them into magnets. Only once did I forget to take them off when I went thru the car wash.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope they ended up on the next person's car!

      Delete
  15. I'm not fond of discourses about phlegm. In my career in pulmonary medicine I had my share of it, and may I say it was always accompanied by nausea on my part. Pick the wrong profession, you say? Perhaps.
    I wonder this election about the absence of bumper stickers or yard election signs about the top of the ticket. Butte Montana, it's hard to find either a Hillary or Asshole sign.
    What is this a sign of? Might not be good.
    I have high hopes for getting through the next couple weeks without significant coronary narrowing.
    Mike

    ReplyDelete
  16. So very few stickers this year and hardly any yard signs. I guess everyone is afraid of everyone else. Isn't that what the Big Cheeto wanted?

    ReplyDelete