Bumper stickers


Please use bumper stickers responsibly!

I enjoy reading so much, I’m glad someone invented bumper stickers! Now I can also read while I drive. The other day, I saw this bumper sticker as I drove: “Bumper to Bumper / Butt to Butt / Get Off My Ass / You Crazy Nut.” Well, that was a very lame bumper sticker as far as bumper stickers go. I thought back to the glory days, the actual Renaissance of bumper stickers. I remember reading some excellent bumper stickers long ago, in the Golden Age of public expression.

Yes, like many American cultural icons, bumper stickers were born about the same time as t-shirts with messages, way back in the 1960s when everyone seemed to have something important to say. Once, long ago, t-shirts were essentially underwear, something that men wore under their dress shirts with a collar. And there were no bumper stickers then; bumpers were still bare and naked. Their sole purpose was to protect the car and its occupants in case of a collision. In the 1950s, juvenile delinquents, JDs, began wearing white t-shirts as outerwear and car bumpers got bigger and brighter chrome, but alas, neither took advantage of all the possible attention that be showered upon them in the 1960s. Then, someone viewed the white t-shirt as a blank canvas intended for artistic expression. And, Voila! The message t-shirt was born, and riding on its shirttails, was the bumper sticker.

Some of the messages were exclusive to their medium, but most messages expressed themselves equally as well on a t-shirt or a bumper sticker: “If I told you that you had a beautiful body / would you hold it against me?” However, I prefer bumper stickers. T-shirts have long ago reached their saturation point and we’re now seeing the reemergence of plain white t-shirts. I mainly prefer the bumper stickers because I love to read and they allow me to read while I drive. I wax nostalgic as I recall some of my favorite bumper stickers! I can still see them, like my family and friends gathered round the holiday dinner table! Let me recall a few for you.

I remember there were political messages: “No Nukes,” “Save the Whales.” And there was a religious message: “Jesus Saves.” And then some genius, in a stroke of absolute brilliance, penned this magnificent treasure: “Nuke the Whales for Jesus”! I was amazed that this author didn’t win the Nobel Prize for literature.

When the Born Again Christians bragged, “I Found It,” National Lampoon offered the rebuttal: “I Lost It!” For a while many station wagons and minivans boasted, “My child is an honor student at …” Suddenly, there were some bumper stickers that read, “Your Kid’s An Honor Student / But You’re A Moron” and “My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Student.” To “If You Can Read This / You’re Too Close,” someone replied, “If You Can Read This / Thank a Teacher.”

Then there those bumper stickers that expressed a variety of feelings: “Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beer Holder.” “Insanity Is Hereditary / You Get It From Your Kids.” “Ex-Husband In Trunk.” “Don’t Hit Me / My Lawyer’s In Jail.” “How’s My Driving? / 1-800- EAT SHIT.” “Gas, Grass, Or Ass / No One Rides For Free.” “If This Van’s A Rocking / Don’t Come A Knocking.” I saw an old clunker sporting this bumper sticker: “My Other Car Is A Rolls Royce.” Then I once saw a Roll Royce with this one: “My Other Car Is A Lear Jet.”

As much as I love reading bumper stickers, I have only ever had one bumper sticker on all of my cars: “USMC.”

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David Diego Rodríguez, Ph.D.

I write about whatever comes to mind. También enseño español y escribo acerca de los mexicanos y la enseñanza del español.