Publication:Johnson City Press; Date:Dec 28, 2007; Section:Local/Upstate; Page Number:4A


Bumper stickers brag on kids, push politics

Reach James Brooks at

    As traffic builds up on area roads and I spend more time at traffic lights, there are times when I don’t need to dial calls on my cell phone. That’s when I catch up on my reading.

    In traffic that’s pretty well limited to reading bumper stickers. I’ve never been tempted to try making sense of the novels of Marcel Proust at traffic lights, although if they take much longer to cycle through I may be tempted.

    I’m pleased to report that the bumper sticker generation is growing up. I’m even more pleased to report that nobody is driving around with a plastic window sticker proclaiming “BABY ON BOARD” anymore.

    Nowadays it’s the even more boring proclamation that “My son is an honors student at Jonesborough Elementary School.” I’m not picking on Jonesborough. That’s just the first one that came to mind.

    We’re also seeing school football helmets with the number of the little genius on it.

    Actually I’ve yet to see a football helmet and an honors student brag on the same bumper. The two seem to be mutually exclusive.

    This sort of hubris is the reward the rest of us get for not T-boning the car when it had a baby on board.

    Those whose children have yet to inspire pride can apparently take some joy from their pets. I see frequent mention of various breeds of dogs and claims about the wisdom of cats.

    I don’t brag on our cats on the back of the car. I’m sure that without us they’d settle for any warm body who provided regular meals and a comfortable place to sleep for about 20 hours a day.

    Even stranger than bragging about pets and children are the in memoriums with names and dates of birth and death I see on the back windows of cars. Sometimes when I’m in the midst of traffic I feel like I’m in a moving cemetery. The ever slower pace of traffic does nothing to alleviate that feeling.

    Also fading from the scene are all those yellow and star spangled ribbons exhorting us to support our troops. I get the feeling that unending war with no clear objective in sight and no real exit strategy has caused support of even the most militant to fade as quickly as their mylar doodads. The single letter W is also disappearing as the wealthy gradually trade in their SUVs for BMWs since the last election. Right now we’re in the eye of the bumper sticker storm. Another presidential election cycle will soon be upon us. We will soon be puzzling over whether a ’Bama sticker indicates support for a football team or a Democratic front runner. Einstein, the evil genius raccoon, has been pressuring me to get a bumper sticker made up in time for the Tennessee presidential primary. She wants it to read: “Write in Einstein E.G. Raccoon, President.” She has even submitted a photo to go on it.

    Being a genius, she could attempt another home invasion, go online and order it herself. What she’s really saying is that I should put the order on my credit card. I’m dubious. Although thousands of readers have sent e-mails saying they will vote for Einstein in the presidential primary, I am skeptical about how many would be willing to pony up for a dollar and actually display such a sticker on their car. Upon reflection I believe the pool of hardcore supporters may be closer to hundreds, or perhaps even dozens.

    She argues that’s why it’s necessary to get the word out. “Getting Einstein elected is like winning the lottery,” she said. “It’s a long shot, but you have to buy a ticket first.”

James Brooks