Friday, August 1, 2014

Theory 49: All bumper stickers offend someone, but that’s the point, right?

Now that I’m back on the road, commuting 45 minutes each direction, I see lots of bumper stickers. I can’t text and drive. A Knox County sheriff’s deputy and I had a nice conversation about that when I almost side-swiped him on Asheville Hwy. Teachers, always work the fact that you are teachers into conversations with the popo. We, they, and nurses: popo simpatico. So texting is out, I haven’t had time to check out an audio book from my school’s library, and I’m all alone in the car with no one to talk to (though I do practice —out loud—putting folks in their places to work out my demons), so I study bumper stickers.

My teaching buddy Scone-Ad actually suggested this topic for a Theory. She owed me anyway, since I blame her and her food and nutrition class students for plumping me up with end-of-year surprise cupcakes and sausage balls. Scone-Ad has perfected the shape, size, texture, and flavor of sausage balls. She also has a unique technique for warming buns in her four person pop-up camper.

So Scone-Ad, Red Hot Backspace, Man of Measure and I had a little in-service lunch time to kill so we brainstormed some of our favorite bumper stickers to hate. They thought of some solid winners/losers. Then I reached out to my buds on social media for more fodder. They delivered. To protect relatives from relatives and from making things a bit awkward in pews, school pickup lines, and country club locker rooms, I’m listing the stickers my crowd hates without identifying everyone who contributed. Too bad for some of you. If you have a nickname, I copied and pasted (I LOVE to copy and paste) from Facebook.

You can assume that I am guilty of slapping many of these labels on Big Red over time. You may also assume that I am grossed out by many of these stickers. Just reflect. Be Socratic. Consider the opposing viewpoint for a time. In other words, Go on and get mad, but you know you agree.

Now, this is a living, breathing, post, so check back later for updates. Why? Because I fell asleep reading Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale while our precious Gnome watched videos of himself on my cell phone under the covers. It could have been the covers, or Gnome, or Buzz, or maybe that copperhead who visited my silverware drawer, or the mice who visited first (thus the copperhead). Regardless, some one or some thing swallowed my cell phone. Which stinks. You see, I took my research to the field; I used a voice recording app on my phone as I drove to and from school this week. Dang it to helk! I had to leave home without my phone, and I’m typing the blog EARLY morning in my classroom. I am not on duty, spending no school money, etc. so it’s all good. Please don’t get those county popo after me again.

Long story short, when I find my phone (sweet Tall Child is great at finding things I lose), I’ll listen to my twangy recordings and update the blog. Shoot. I had some good stuff on there, but let’s see how I do from my eerily Delicious-like memory.
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A popular term right now in education is “response to informational text.” Bumper stickers are informational text, right? Below, I’ve listed the stickers my buddies and I dislike. Underneath each sticker, I’ve constructed a response to those who display them and written a few potential new stickers to perhaps replace the offensive ones. Enjoy!

From, hmmm, let’s call him “Febreeze” because he smells GREAT all the time and his shirts are super fresh and women love to watch the wind blow in his beautiful hair. Plus, once, when Sharky smelled the clean, soft bath towels right out of our dryer, he said, “Oooh, this smells just like daddy’s friend [Febreeze].”

Febreeze doesn't like the 26.2/13.1 stickers. He says, "You are in better shape than I am. I do not need the reminder while I am driving around town. I saw one that said 0.0 and that made me smile."

True, true, Febreeze. I was offered a pedometer at school and turned it down. It's pretty obvious I don't do 13.1, 26.2, 1.1, or really even 0.1, except after a hard party tailgate. Remember, one of my high school nicknames was "Slo-Jo." Maybe someday I'll "run" again, because I do value exercise and sportsmanship, as I illustrated in Theory 5: Play a sport, even if you suck at it. I would like to give a yee-haw out to all you ladies who walk at Lakeshore Park in KnoxVegas. How about we print some stickers that say 2.1 in the 919?

Let's analyze this one. First, congratulations for having a child who makes good grades. Quick question: Were you one of the families whose grades suffered under Pontius Pilate, oops, I mean Common Core? If so, I am sorry, you'll have to remove your sticker. If not, consider that you may indeed be teaching your child to boast. Let me get religious on you. One of my favorite Bible verses reads, "And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." Matthew 23:12, KJV

In other words, don't over exalt yourself (because we all know you are really just sneakily bragging that you are smart and passed your smart genes down to your young'un), or your child will be humbled and so will you. One day, you are cruising down Kingston Pike sporting your honor roll bumper sticker. A year later, you are cruising down Kingston Pike to register Junior for Sylvan Learning Center. 

New sticker: My child repeated first grade. I blamed it on his hearing problems, but really, I didn’t read to him 20 minutes a night like I was supposed to. It’s all my fault.

I can't wait to be exalted. Sorry, Sharky!

Parent, what’s your goal with this one? Is this where that whole obsessive bully trend originated? Also, what if your child actually tries to beat up an honor student and gets the helk beat out of him? Then what have you got? A weak dummy? Paste cautiously.

Contrary to my contrary statement, some students should be recognized for athletic prowess and kinesthetic excellence! I wrote a whole post about it in Theory 42: Modern education has ruined field day.

Both of these stickers created a tiny stir after my social media prompt. My buddy “Elaine” is quite articulate, and summed it up even better than I. She wrote, "Personally I love the 'my kid beat up your honor student.' I sported it and an 'I break for boiled peanuts' for several years. I detest the braggy parent bumper stickers 'my kid is an honor student/cheerleader/nuclear physicist/one-legged belly dancer.' My kids are great, too, but they don't need me, as their parent, to advertise that fact on the butt of my car. Hopefully, they can get their validation in some better venue than a dirty piece of adhesive vinyl. And I agree with the disdain for the cross fit/marathon/I have 2% body fat stickers, too. Those dudes need to eat a piece of cake and take a nap."

Amen, sister wife! Poor guys. No dairy. No carbs. They never enjoy the magical, savory experience of onion dip on ruffled chip.

By the way, "Elaine's" children are honors students. They also have black belts. Bazinga!

Whatever. All I can say is that Obama’s tax increase decreased Tall Child’s paycheck significantly, which decreased my quality of life by increasing my debt. Geez. I did qualify for a student loan for my master’s degree, though. Yippee! Maybe next he’ll give me 40 acres and a mule. Never mind. I already have that. Maybe next he’ll give me another student loan so I can go on another vacation. Huh? What? Who said that?
Obama/Biden won, so why do folks still campaign for them? Because they have to?

New sticker: Somebody better who will still grant me student loans, please, 2016

Socialized medicine creates long waits. One yeast infection. That’s all you need to turn Republican. 
One. Yeast. Infection.

Besides reminding me of the snake in my silverware drawer, this smells of militia. It is historical, but it’s still eerie. Cross Country (my loving, liberal, witty geography teacher who diagnosed me with slow-twitch muscle fibers) says those stickers “insult our founding fathers.” Let’s not insult our founding fathers, friends.

Good idea. I bet your child is on the honor roll.

New sticker: I break for anything that outweighs me and whose physical properties can put me in the grave.

Too bad bicycle guys don’t have room for bumper stickers.

FB comment from my beloved, colorful, awesome/wondrous neighbor and surrogate grandmama to Sharky and Gnome, "Auntie Mame": "I saw a car with the 'practice random acts of kindnes' on the bumper, all the while the driver is honking at people riding their bumpers and shooting them a bird! She was confused!!!"

Is it bad that sometimes I love shooting birds? Is that because I grew up in Pigeon Forge, I fished with dough and night-crawlers, and my crushes wore mullets?

This one burns my biscuit. I Googled it. Some Yahoo answerer defined the symbols this way:

C is the symbol for Islam 
O is the symbol for peace 
E is the symbol for males/females 
X is the symbol for Judaism 
I is dotted with a Wicca pentacle
S is the symbol for the yin-yang or Confucianism 
T is the symbol for Christianity

Wicca? Really? REALLY?

Why’d they leave out good old Buddha? I kind of like him now that our thighs match.

One afternoon as I rode shotgun in Bop's Cadillac, she said, "I like that sticker. It's nice." She likes the idea of folks getting along, but seriously doubt she's a fan of the Wicca pentacle!

I can’t wait to tell her.

The evolutionists try so hard. Always working their way into public schools to expel God and take over our science curriculum. We discussed this in Theory 23: God and prayer are most definitely in schools. It’s a shame you are going to helk. I’m gonna pray for ya’ll.

New sticker: I am trying to look like a science stud by displaying this Darwin fish, but if I ever get really sick or in jail, I’m sure I’ll switch my sticker to this one:

Trout often explains his religious philosophy to non-believers like this: “You might as well believe, because if you don’t, you’ll go straight to hell.”

Well, good for you. My guess is that you are a new mother or paranoid driver-father. New mother, there are babies on board in most cars at some point, so really we should all just drive carefully. Also, remember that some folks behind you may be driving home from an infertility clinic, adoption agency, or court room. Those folks would give anything in the world to have a baby on board.

New sticker: There is a demanding/misbehaving/aggravating person on board, so I may be serving dinner, slapping a switch all over the backseat, looking for a dropped toy, etc. You’ve been warned. Keep your distance.

I have taught boys and girls who’ve NEVER been on vacation. I wonder if they know what HHI, 30A, PCB, etc. mean. If so, how must those stickers affect them? Plus, from a distance at a certain speed, HHI looks kinda like HIV. Careful.

New sticker: You can go anywhere if you finish school, get a good job, and maintain your health. And maybe have some good luck. Good luck!

New sticker just for me: 34H

Look, I know, I am guilty. Please don’t honk at me when the light turns red because I am on the phone. I have to make personal phone calls on my way to and from work because I can’t make personal calls at work and my husband and children will not give me one freaking moment to talk to a friend, a doctor, an insurance agent, etc. once I get home.

But, wait. One of my cousins, who is an avid reader and intellectual, wouldn’t like my suggestion above. She said,I don't like ones that I can't read at a passing glance. It is a bumper sticker, not a book!

New sticker: On phone. Forgive? Can’t we all just COEXIST? Here’s my insurance card.

Just flipping through some history books here at school. Looks like that peace stuff is pretty much impossible.

New sticker: Let’s not shoot each other most of the time.

I found the perfect bumper sticker for Scone-Ad and Man of Measure!


Mean people do suck. They’d better watch out. See Theory 3: Be nice to everyone you meet, because you will meet again, especially if you weren't nice in the first place.

Do you? Is that why you are pulling out of the Twin Peak’s parking lot at 10:00 p.m. Let me guess, you brought wifey a doggie bag to show your affection. Oh, and you're weaving.

That shouldn't be difficult.

New stickers: Keep New York expensive. Keep Orlando hot. Keep Newport sketchy.


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I despise scatological humor. It requires no thought. It seems that most of the time that little boy is actually tee-teeing on an Alabama logo.

Ironic? Nah.

Yorkie/Lab/Beagle/Horse/any critter really Lover?


Tall Child needs a sticker that says “Hater of one particular Yorkie.”

Well, I suppose this one could scare children. Sharky, Tall Child and I are addicted to “The Walking Dead” and “The Talking Dead” (I taught TTD Chris Hardwick’s nephew! Hardwick and I Tweeted each other!) I love zombies, but I doubt they're real. Then again, you should see forty 8th graders get off a school bus at 7:45 am. I heard the word Ebola on the radio. Grab the batteries, Pampered Chef pizza cutter, and Vienna sausages!

New bride? Preppy? Gag me with a dead Smurf.

I got more negative comments about this bumper sticker than any other. Hands down.
Again, “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” Matthew 23:12, KJV

Basically, these stickers (to me, anyway) are saying that couples are happily married. The husband is taller than the wife. He doesn’t cheat, he doesn’t go to Twin Peaks, he doesn’t throw you under the bus when in-laws make demands, he has a job, etc. He is so awesome that you represent his image with cute adhesive paper. Oh, and your children. Your children. They, too, decorate the window in descending height. Look, I teach junior high, so I know for a fact that your 13 year old son is shorter than your 11 year old daughter. At least your boys and girls are physically fit and artistic. They seem to all be holding flutes and balls. What a healthy, happy, normal family. Are you so calm and organized and kind on long road trips to Hot Orlando or Expensive New York? And, oh, your sweet little pets are part of the family, too. So cute! I bet your mother calls your Border Collie her “grand dog.” The cats and dogs sit side by side as the happy family takes Sunday drives. Everything is groovy. You COEXIST so well!

Seriously, I think these stickers are cornball express but sweet. I consider them a family’s attempt to represent what they are trying hard to be: normal, well-adjusted, loving, and close.

Life is a dynamic adventure with lots of variables. How much do these stickers cost?

What happens if there is a divorce?

An affair?

I think my family needs a sticker family bumper sticker!

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The last bumper sticker Big Red wore was a blue oval boasting the name of Sharky’s elementary school. That was back in 2011 when I taught at a “rough” middle school. 

One day, while I desperately tried to teach pre-algebra to a bunch of non-interested 8th graders, my sticker disappeared. Along with my tail lights.

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Of all the commentary I provoked and received regarding this topic, my favorite response came from my sweet, sweet, fellow compassionate humorist, Flower Child. She wrote:


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What do you think, readers? What are your bumper stickers loves and peeves? Find me, friend me, and comment here or on social media. 

Facebook: Theories: Size 12 
Facebook: Jody Cantrell Dyer
Twitter: @jodycdyer

See you next post. Until then, think outside the barn!

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

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Just thinking outside the barn...

Just thinking outside the barn...