Thursday, November 1, 2012

Humor Me: How bumper stickers could decide the Presidential election

At this point, I’m sure everyone has seen a poll that shows the presidential election will be tighter than spandex. Even a Facebook poll I saw predicts the race as a dead heat, while also reporting that nearly 100 percent of those surveyed are tired of people posting photos of what they’re having for lunch.

Obama or Romney, Romney or Obama – it’s down to the wire. And it’s so close that the election could be decided by a single hot-button issue such as same-sex marriage, birth control or immigration regulation. It all depends on the swing voters, the political experts agree.

But it might also depend on bumper stickers, according to one person who has zero expertise but was recently cut off by a car displaying an “I love my French Bulldog” sticker.

It might seem weird, but at that moment, I didn’t care much for French Bulldogs. I might’ve even had some unpleasant thoughts about France. Now imagine if it was an Obama or Romney bumper sticker.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Makes you think I’m crazy, perhaps. But with this race being so tight, the candidate with the least amount of bumper stickers might have the inside track to the White House.

After all, bumper stickers are not an effective way to spread a message. Not a positive one, anyway, because America’s roadways are not a place of positivity.

When was the last time you felt warm feelings for a driver ahead of you? When was the last time you weren’t upset when someone cut you off? I can’t imagine a driver looking at another and thinking, “Wow, that person in the other lane is a fantastic driver. So safe! So courteous! Truly a joy to share the road with!”

Maybe that does happen occasionally, but probably not without medication. That’s why we hear about road rage and not road rapture. That’s why even the most conscientious drivers are vilified if they are one car ahead of you.

At that frequently repeated moment in our lives, when we are one car behind in the unofficial race to who-knows-where, we are not a receptive audience for the tailgate talk of Mr. or Ms. One Car Ahead.

Your daughter is an honor student at Jones Elementary? Well, I hope she learns to drive better than you!

If you can read this, thank a teacher? Well, I can read your bumper sticker, and it’s because you won’t hit the gas!

Visualize world peace? Here’s a great visual: you getting out of my way!

It’s hard to escape these negative thoughts. We may be civilized; we may be reasonable; we may provide homes for stray animals (even French Bulldogs) and work the line at a soup kitchen. But behind the wheel, we’re stovetop tea kettles ready to scream.

And vote, too.

So listen up, proud endorsers of a particular candidate. No undecided voter will ever be swayed by your bumper sticker if you’re Mr. or Ms. One Car Ahead. They’re more likely to be annoyed by it. They might even sneer at your bumper sticker that says your son or daughter is on the honor roll at some school.

(As a side note, has anyone seen the bumper stickers that say my son or daughter is a “Self Manager” at some school? I guess that’s an honor, but I’ve seen a lot of kids self-manage themselves into some really dumb situations. I think I prefer to have my kids managed by someone with a fully-mature prefrontal cortex.)

Anyway, Mr. or Ms. One Car Ahead is no good for a campaign. Mr. or Ms. One Car Behind, on the other hand, could be a campaign’s secret weapon. So here’s a winning strategy for each campaign as Election Day approaches:

Take your best bumper stickers -- the ones with the catchiest slogans, the most stars and stripes and the boldest red, white and blue -- and stick those on the front bumper of an American-made car. Then hit the streets during peak traffic times and instruct the driver to let everyone merge in front of him or her.

That should get some undecided voters into gear.

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Humor Me: When are you too old to trick or treat?

As another Halloween approaches, it's time to address a common question surrounding trick-or-treating:

"Does anyone really eat candy corn, or is it like a Christmas fruitcake that gets re-gifted each year?"

Actually, I don't have an answer for that. So let's move on to another common question, which is being asked this week by a large crop of potential trick-or-treaters who no longer fit into a Dora the Explorer costume.

"Am I too old to trick-or-treat?"

Relax, spooky mooches. You can never be too old.

You just need to be a kid at heart, have the right Halloween spirit and find a costume that completely covers you as you crouch down and say "trick or treat!" in a high voice. And, oh yeah, remember to take off your wedding ring. That's a dead giveaway.

Honestly, I don't know when a person is too old to trick-or-treat. And I would never turn away anyone willing to dress up and ring doorbells on the annual night of permissible panhandling. Well, almost anyone. I don't want to be issuing a challenge.

But I'm open to all trick-or-treaters. Still, when I open the door to someone nearly as tall as I am, it does feel a little awkward. And it seems like the teenage trick-or-treater feels the same way. He stands there, holding a pillowcase open, trying not to look me in the eye.

"Trick or treat," he says, with little enthusiasm. His voice cracks, a sign of the puberty that's robbing him of his trick-or-treating innocence. For Brady Bunch in-the-knows, imagine Peter saying "trick or treat" in the episode where his voice changes and he nearly ruins the Brady kids' surefire hit record. For those who have no idea what that previous sentence meant, I promise the next one will be better.

So the teenage trick-or-treater is at my door. His costume?

A dark coat. That's pretty much it. And some stage blood thrown on his face, which draws more attention to the wispy mustache that teenage boys refuse to shave because it makes them feel older. Some teenage trick-or-treaters are more elaborate with their costumes, but I always get the same feeling. The feeling that "trick or treat" is more of a threat than a plea:

Look, sir, I know I'm like 15 years old and I'm not as cute as the Bob the Builder or the adorable witch walking behind me. But what I lack in cuteness I make up for in ability to accidentally trip over one of your sprinkler heads and break it. Or snap some branches off your tree. Accidentally.

So I hand over a candy bar. I give him a few, actually, because they are "fun size" -- the name for tiny, one-bite candy bars. (An inappropriate name unless the regular bars are called mind-blowing euphoria size.)

The teenage trick-or-treater smiles weakly and says "thanks." Then he's off to the next house, brushing past a Winnie the Pooh and a 3-foot dinosaur that keeps tripping on its tail.

I can't remember if I was a teenage trick-or-treater. But I probably was, especially considering how much I liked candy as a kid. I ate chocolate until my stomach hurt and Pixy Stix until the dust came out of my nose. I also once got sick after eating Dots, and I still feel nauseous whenever I see a box of them.

And I remember it was hard to give up trick-or-treating. There was no more free candy, for one thing, but it was also like giving up a part of my childhood. Admitting that I was no longer fun size.

Yes, it's tough being a teenager. You're in the most awkward stage of your life, caught between childhood and adulthood, and you're not really accepted in either category. And here comes Halloween, your chance to redirect some candy money toward a larger-size tube of extra-strength Clearasil.

It's a tough decision.

But teenagers, I'll have an open heart -- and door -- for you on Halloween night. Come on by, ring the doorbell, and I promise that I won't ask for an explanation of your costume.

Just mumble "trick or treat," hold out your pillowcase and you'll get the goods.

I have plenty of candy corn to go around.

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