What stickers really mean

March 12, 2001|By Phil Perrier

LOS ANGELES -- During a recent jog, I saw affixed to the rear bumper of an SUV a sticker proclaiming "Happiness is owning a horse!" Not "riding a horse," mind you. "Owning a horse."

The real message had nothing to do with an affinity for the equine persuasion.

It meant I can afford to buy a horse, have a enough property to house one, can pay to feed a horse and its huge vet bills and have enough leisure time to ride one -- or, at least my 26-year-old trophy wife does.

In other words, it really means, "Screw you! I'm rich!"

Other bumper stickers convey the same message. They include, "I'd rather be sailing," "Hug your stockbroker," and "Bush/ Cheney."

Then there are a whole raft of pretentious, pseudo-spiritual bumper stickers. They also carry subliminal messages.

"Visualize World Peace" actually means "I'm a little guilty about buying a $40,000 Volvo after spouting all that idealistic peace and love crap in college so I'm going to try to look compassionate."

"Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty" means "I am a total jerk but try to cover it up with this simpering gutless bumper sticker."

"Free Tibet" means "I am a shallow little yuppie poodle kisser and my life is so devoid of genuine conflict that I pretend to care about people on the other side of the world."

Then there are those that tell what people do: "Support Your Local Artist" means "I've never earned a living in my adult life and I live in my mother's basement."

Gun enthusiasts love bumper stickers. "Support the NRA" means "I am a U.S. senator and the NRA just put a large wad of cash in my pocket." Or "You'll Take My Gun Away When You Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands!" means "I am Charlton Heston."

Cars offer clues about what bumper stickers they will display. You seldom see a Chevy low-rider with a "Tennis Anyone?" sticker. Just as rare is a Rolls Royce informing us that "Mean People Suck."

Young people wear their hearts on their bumpers.

If you see a couple of college age kids in a car displaying "Limp Bizkit" and "Smoke Crack and Worship Satan," you translate it as, "Mommy and daddy got divorced when I was little, and I got way too little attention."

People brag about their kids on their bumpers. "My Kid is an Honor Student" means "I am a good parent, and you are not!"

Bumper stickers tell us about the driver's sexual preference, as in the gay rainbow bumper sticker.

Sadly, there is no sticker for heterosexuals.

Perhaps there should be, something like a small figure of a bored man sitting alone on a bench at the mall waiting for his wife to finish shopping.

Bumper stickers can give helpful hints about the driving habits of the car's occupant, such as, "If You Can Read This You're TOO CLOSE!"

My favorite: "If You Don't Like the Way I Drive, Stay Off the Sidewalk."

Phil Perrier is a free-lance writer and stand-up comic who lives in Los Angeles.

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