Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Car Tattoos

Hummer - Smashing Pumpkins (mp3)

You know the new fad of putting stick figures representing everyone in your family on the back of the family vehicle? I kinda hate it.

I'm going to buy three or four groupings of these stickers and basically fill up my entire back window with them. Me, the husband. Four wives. And 18 children. Maybe a few dogs and cats thrown in for good measure. And I can a bumper sticker that says "If the YFZ Ranch is rockin', don't come a'knockin'!" How awesome would it be to get those looks of judgment and confusion from people driving past you?!

Car tats and bumper stickers are basically the wuss version of flesh ink. The worst ones are pathetic attempts at telling people you don't even give a shit about (a) information they don't need, or (b) things designed to piss off half your audience. At best, bumper stickers are telling a small percentage of people something to make you feel more connected or offer a 1-liner reminiscent of Henny Youngman jokes. That makes the "at best" option pretty God-awful.

These family stickers make Baby On Board seem old fashioned and quaint, pot from the early '70s compared to the more potent booty-kickin' stuff of today. No longer is a simple proclamation of a small infant inside the car enough for you people. We now need to meet every fucking member of your brood and, if we're lucky, learn their names? What an honor, letting us in on this. People shred their mail and won't let their children out of their sight in a mall, but we don't hesitate to reveal juicy child details - name, relative height, relative age - on the back of our car. Apparently child molesters aren't a threat in the express lane.

Don'tcha just know the Octomom (a.k.a. Nadya Suleman) has these damn things on her car? A sticker of her, her 14 children, three cameramen, a producer, an art director and a key grip. Or does she also pepper the outline of the window with little sperm stickers or frozen embryo stickers?

(My favorite responses when I put this observation about Octomom as my status update:

  • "The 10 live-in nannies would have to go on the bumper."
  • "Her uterus is like a clown car."
  • "Her va-jay-jay is a Greyhound!")
Why do we do this? And I'm not talking about making fun of Octomom. I know why we do that.

I've never been big fans of those "My son is an Honor Student..." stickers, or the big softballs with the kid's name and number on them, but at least I get that. They're hardly any more ridiculous than the UNC propaganda I paste on anything I drive. Little trinkets of personal flair, like the buttons on those TGIFriday's overalls. But these family stickers? Is it just 'cuz they're "cute"? 'Cuz they're not. And this isn't just an opinion. It's fact. Go ask God, and He'll quickly tell you that those stick figure families are stupid as hell.

Speaking of God, why is it that so many of the people who have those Christian fish symbols also have those bumper stickers that joke about killing people who drive too closely or offering to give up their guns once their hands are cold and dead? And why has this damn thing turned into a bad Andy Rooney column?

To be fair, my scooter is littered with Tar Heel propaganda, and it also has several other stickers, one promoting a microbrewery and two others promoting The Rescues and Cheap Trick, 'cuz I think I'm gonna put any stickers I get at concerts on the scooter. But with a scooter, the rules change. Everyone laughs at a scooter. You notice them, and you chuckle. So at that point, what dignity do I have left anyway? Might as well decorate the thing with amusing little details.

But that Honda Odyssey? That Land Cruiser? Those are just two more large vehicles puttering down the runway. No one cares, and no one wants to care. So your little family stickers start looking a sadly desperate, like a 49-year-old cougar who wears too much makeup and no panties.

Now, if a dude or dudette drove a Ferrari and had family stickers on the back of that bad boy? Totally acceptable.


Bob said...

It's those "tombstones" for the car that kill me, remembrances pasted to the back window with crosses, birth, and death. I just don't get it.

Billy said...

Dammit! I knew I was leaving something out! Yes, these are even more uncomfortable than the bad poems written to long-gone loved ones in the local obituary section of the newspaper.

Daisy said...

What about the big curly script monograms (usually in pink) on the back of minivans and SUVs? Clearly if you are driving the mom cab you are not a sorority girl so do you really need you initials on everything?

Randy said...

I think the big curly script monograms are only ok if they are airbrushed (cuz I like to support local artists). Otherwise, they aren't.

troutking said...

I liked this post, so I guess, sadly, I like Andy Rooney. Also, what about vanity plates? These tend to be lame, indecipherable, obnoxious or generally sucky. Of course, there is one exception...ASSMAN!

Thom Anon said...

This ranks right up there for me along with the whole "Life is Good" movement of logo'd merchandise (t-shirts, bumper stickers, et al). Because I really don't care if your life is good or not, and if you think it's so good that it needs a t-shirt to declare itself, then you're either delusional or a firm believer in thinking making it so when your Life is Actually Suck.

Anonymous said...

Interesting t-shirt concept: I walk around wearing a t-shirt that reads "Your Life Sucks."

Tockstar said...

Over in Riverview, a family has put their little sticker tatoo ON THEIR MAILBOX! With their last name!! Apparently they believe that scary people only live on the other side of town.

Also, frankly, while the stickers annoy me...they are just a little bit cute. I find the softball with the kid's name in it to be far more disturbing. I see those as another outgrowth of this trend of having your kid specialize in a sport while still in the womb. If my parents had run out and gotten a basketball sticker the day I signed up for the First Pres Rec League, they would have been implying that I was somehow defined by that decision. Ack!

And the tombstones are really, really disturbing, but have me thinking about our relationships with our cars. Why do we feel that a car is a suitable memorial? What does that say about us?

jed said...

nice title, Billy. also, props for the Cheap Trick sticker. my favorite bumper sticker? "Ted Kennedy's car has killed more people than my gun." is it too soon?

My Family Stickers said...

I love your blog post, Billy. As a creator of the Australian range of 'My Family' stickers, I can only say that ‘family pride’ has a lot to do with it over here. I think people love to show off who is in their family. I have to say however that we absolutely DO NOT put names on our decals, nor do we ever intend to and I agree with you that’s a security risk and an insane one. But we love the fact that people can show off their hobbies and interests (more so than their professions) and at least, over here, it’s harmless fun that at the very least, offers something for the car behind to look at during the red light. Oh and my partner's parents have the back of their campervan covered with all 6 offspring and their subsequent offspring... 34 stickers in total! Yeah ok that is wierd :)