S**t My Car Says

Onion rings in the car cushions do not improve with time. ~Erma Bombeck

I don’t even like old cars. I’d rather have a goddam horse. A horse is at least human, for God’s sake. ~J.D. Salinger

At least it's not a yellow jacket


It’s hard to say exactly when America’s love affair with cars started, but, despite the ever-higher gas prices with no relief in sight, it doesn’t seem to be slowing. People bought about as many Chevy Volts and Nissan Leafs (or is that “Leaves?) in the month of February as they did Chia Pets. There’s been a huge PR blitz to try and wean Americans from  their ginormous “Yank Tanks,” as our British friends call them, and get them hooked on smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. This campaign has been about as popular as the effort to convert to the metric system or get everyone to eat more broccoli. Not well.

Though I myself drive a 13-year-old, gas-efficient, nondescript Asian import, I have to wonder how anyone can afford to own an Expedition or Avalanche anymore. Back in the salad days when gas was below $2 per gallon (remember that?), perhaps it could be justified, but not anymore. Americans have put themselves squarely behind the 8 ball in terms of oil dependence from volatile foreign suppliers, extremely poor urban planning, and a macho love affair with vehicles that eke out maybe 11-12 MPG.

But, faithful P&Q readers, this post isn’t about electric cars, or the ludicrous idea of a polar bear hugging a man instead of eating him like a leftover crab wonton, or Al Gore having some kind of orgy in a Prius. Nope…just when you thought I was getting serious, I feel the need to talk about…car accessories. You heard me right. Bumper stickers? Vanity plates? Those little Jack in the Box foam antenna balls which stopped being ironically hip 6 years ago? They’re all here. You see, like clothing, cars and their accoutrements tell a lot about their drivers. Consider this a basic field guide, a pamphlet of sorts, to understanding the meaning behind common blings, rings, and other novelties found on cars.

The Un-Cute Bootleg Decals

I’m sure somewhere, Bill Watterson is cursing these people through voodoo. I don’t know why Calvin, or anyone else, would want to piss on Ford, or Jeff Gordon, or anything else, for that matter. A car is a car is a car. These are probably the same people who, if they lived in Northern Ireland, would claim the other side was actually the devil.

The Dead Person Decal

I’m mildly creeped out whenever I see one of these. Especially when a non-family member is the dead person in question (I’ve seen them for everyone from Dale Earnhardt to Michael Jackson to Pope John Paul II. OK, maybe the JPII one was a school sticker.) We at P&Q understand that death is a natural part of the great Circle of Life, but these drivers believe that with a little faith, trust and pixie dust, along with a customized piece of sticky vinyl, maybe the dearly departed might come back again one day.

The Cutesy Vanity Plate
This one can be very, very good, but when it is bad, it is horrid. (I always think of the one episode of Seinfeld in which Kramer ends up driving a car whose plate reads ASS MAN.) Occasionally the little seven-letter epigrams are clever, as our specimen above, but usually they’re cloying, silly or just plain enigmatic. I worry about the day when, stuck behind a Mazda whose plate reads SATAN and wondering whether its driver is a devotee of either the hockey player or Mephistopheles, I smash into its rear bumper in the process.

Stuffed Animals In/On Vehicles

Don’t get me wrong…I like stuffed animals, and I like cars…but, like, say, horseradish and peanut butter, just not together. The drivers of these buggies are inevitably sweet older ladies, which makes me dislike them even more, because I have a sneaking suspicion the teddies and troll dolls are actually the souls of small children who have been transmogrified. OK, so I watched a little too much Tales from the Crypt growing up.

Extreme low-rider trucks or other vehicles

These are the Munchkin cats of the automotive world. They’re idiotic, and essentially functionless, but there are some devotees who think them attractive. They’re usually the same men whose pants also drag the ground and whose IQs hover around the average temperature of San Francisco. (For the record, entire forests have to die because there are multiple periodicals devoted to this subject. Sad, isn’t it?)

Overtly racy mud flaps, stickers, or decals

I understand the thing about some guys, and how they feel about women. I get it. I just don’t want to have to see it when I’m stuck in rush hour traffic. Every time I see one of these, I know the driver isn’t someone with whom I can enjoy a nice hot cup of Earl Grey and discuss Nichomachean ethics. It’s not going to happen. I also don’t like stickers advertising the driver’s sexual prowess, preference or anything else. It’s personal. Keep it that way.

What Would Jesus Drive?

I have a strong feeling that if He did drive, he might have a beat-up old Corolla. Just a hunch. Besides, I really doubt that in the history of humanity, any one person, stuck in traffic behind a car such as the one pictured, has pulled over to the shoulder, thrown his/her arms to heaven, and declared him/herself a believer in God because of any number of bumper stickers or plastic Jesus fish. Car proselytizing always just struck me as…strange. What would be even stranger is if, say, Hindus or Buddhists tried this technique (plastic Lakshmi, anyone?)

You are not Batman or James Bond (Unnecessary Add-Ons)

Wanna really know if you’re in a bad part of town? Check and see how many of the cars around you have absurdly large spoilers, non-factory rims, or woofers that make it look as if you’ve stepped onto the San Andreas Fault with three espressos in you. These types will never likely get out of the bad ‘hoods because they’re too busy trying to make their POS cars look as if they’re not POSs.

Mama’s Gotta Brag

These parents are ostensibly proud that their kid is an honor student, or that their dog is smarter than someone else’s honor student (if he really were that smart, wouldn’t he have learned to use the toilet by now? The dog, I mean) Most of us find these proclamations to be purely annoying. I don’t go around proclaiming myself to be the smartest woman in the world, even if I secretly wish I were.

Ultra-Redneck Cars

Who knows? If gas prices spiral out of control, this may be the norm rather than the exception. It is in parts of Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia (Borat isn’t too far off the truth there.) Wander around your local Wal-Mart parking lot. You’re apt to see at least one of these clunkers. If you have any doubt, look for a gun rack, animal parts attached to the vehicle, and/or a camo paint job somewhere on the body.

Me? Like I said…I appreciate driving fairly incognito these days. For one thing, I don’t want my ride to get stolen. I’m far too fond of my wheels, and I need to get to work. My only vice, it seems, is this little number:

Even with my boring old Toyota, I have to have some fun. And since I can’t afford a neon undercarriage…

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on March 5, 2011.

One Response to “S**t My Car Says”

  1. Great post! The license plate part is great, especially the reference to Seinfeld. EAT THE Kids First is actually funny. You take in the world in some ways that I can really relate too. Love it!

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