Bump the Stickers

Recently, a reader of my latest novel Nobody Has To Know asked me if there are
any similarities between me and my protagonist, Cameron Baldridge. The query was met with more than just a little trepidation, since Cameron, a high school English teacher who gets involved intimately with one of his female students, shares the same profession with yours truly. After managing to dodge that bullet, this reader and ardent fan of the book altered the course of her inquiry and re-introduced the question: “Well, that may not be a similarity, but you can’t tell me that there is none of you in Cameron. Come on…give me just one similarity between author and character.”

Fair enough.

I am a staunch believer that all characters reflect in some way
their creator.I mused a bit over some of the less damning parallels between my protagonist and me, chuckling from time to time at some of the idiosyncrasies and experiences that we share. There is the rabid worshipping of the New York Mets, the childhood jaunts through the various hot spots on Long Island, and of course the obsessive love of language and literature. These satisfied her curiosity for the most part, but not enough to preclude one last question:
“What about personalized license plates? Do you have the aversion to these as Cameron does?”

Her reference to a conversation that occurs early on in the novel between
Cameron and his fiancée Hayley made me laugh. I had not even considered this.
“No,” I replied whimsically. “I don’t really have a major issue with license
plates. But bumper stickers? Bumper stickers are another story.”

Allow me to clarify.

I love living on Long Island. I believe that most native Long Islanders feel the
same way and are indeed proud to call the odd shaped island our home. Most of us recognize the unique nature of our home and celebrate its attributes
accordingly. We remain enamored with the miles of beaches that stretch endlessly
from shore to shore and are equally fond of the many beautiful parks that house
our spring and summer recreational endeavors. We are also very proud of our
neighborhoods and award winning schools – so much so that we have even come to
accept a shortcoming or two, such as the escalating population and traffic
many of us withstand on a daily basis. Who wouldn’t endure a little gridlock in exchange for the privilege of living in paradise? What I find intolerable, however, is having to look at the spate of automobiles whose bumpers are emblazoned with inane, self-indulgent, sometimes vulgar sentiments designed to alter the world’s perception.

Isn’t sitting in traffic punishment enough?

At some point, our population’s focus shifted away from topics of a religious or political nature to expressions which illustrate the collective ignorance,
narcissism and irreverence which plague our society. Messages urging people to
assume and active role in government (“Vote”) or to extol the value of peace
rather than strife (“Make Love Not War”) have degenerated into odd admonitions
reflecting an irrational malevolence or stupidity. The parent who boasts of
his child’s belligerence (“My Child Beat Up Your Honor Student”) or the woman
who proclaims her propensity for wild, aggressive behavior (“I Have PMS and a
Gun – Any Questions?”) are frightening on so many levels. What exactly is the
message these folks are trying to convey? And don’t they realize that the
mantras they have selected for their vehicles become a reflection of their
character?

The car bumper has, once again, become a pulpit from which the common man may
espouse his views on the world. I suppose this may still have its advantages. In our travels, we are implored to “Think Globally and Act Locally,” to “Save the Whales”, and to “Just Say No To Drugs.” These are all very worthwhile sentiments. However, as the popular adage goes, a little power can be a dangerous thing. Although I am truly comforted to know that “Jesus Loves Me” and that when all else fails, “Love is the Answer,” I see nothing redeeming about an edict which requires me to “Honk if I’m Horny” or to “Question Authority.” I am equally offended by the myriad messages which hold as their basic tenets topics which are both explicit and scatological.

Is there really anyone out there who believes that flatulence will arrest the
progress of a determined tailgater?

I suppose my real issue with bumper stickers is not so much what is being said as it is why. Who has ever had an epiphany while driving behind a bumper
sticker clad pickup truck on the Long Island Expressway? It seems that the
bumper sticker, like the pet rock, mood ring, and Rubics Cube, should have
acquiesced to the passage of time long ago. Would anyone really miss them?

Besides, don’t we have enough to do while driving; between applying eye makeup, shaving, eating and texting, who really has time to read anyway?
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Published on January 23, 2013 17:49
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message 1: by Betty (new)

Betty Hahaha, I love this humorous, yet serious, blog, Frank. I cracked up at your spot-on references to various bumper stickers.

Love all your blogs and your books.

You rock and are enormously talented... I TOLD THEM SO!

Hugs - Betty Dravis


message 2: by Frank (new)

Frank Nappi Thanks so much Betty - back at you!!


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