Epiphany: Almost all bumper stickers … are complete garbage.

“Life is just so much better with my dog.”

Ok, really?

First off, of course life is probably better with your dog. The dog is your pet. Its emotional landscape revolves completely around you, the owner, so why wouldn’t life be just amazing in the company of an animal who worships you?

Secondly, if what you say is true, then that’s just sad. If you need to keep a personal fan around all day just to make your life better, then I’m sorry to hear that. If what you’re really looking for is a friend or another fan, heck, I’ll be your biggest fan. Need me to send you a card or something in the mail? I could do that. At least for a while I could. I really want you to know that somebody out there cares and that life isn’t so terrible. And that you don’t require the fellowship of a dog just to improve your quality of life. People are a double-edged sword of happiness and despair (I will agree) but hey, we can be good support and a great time if you let us.

I didn’t have a plan for what to write about today, but that’s usually the case with me. I prefer to look for inspiration in everyday life. When the moment strikes me and an idea begins to flow, I let the fingers on my keyboard do the work. Such is the reason behind this post.

My inspiration today came from the backside of a Ford Explorer while sitting at a red light. I was on the phone with my family, chatting about holiday preparations, when I saw a huge paw print on the back of this car in front of me. As with most bumper stickers, the “theme” of the message revolves arond the shape of the said bumper sticker. Sports enthusiasts get bumper stickers shaped like footballs or baseballs; cat-lovers enjoy cat-shaped stickers; and modern day hippies love to plaster those “coexist” stickers on the backside of their vehicles which encompass the shape of every major religion known to man. Yes, nothing says “I stand for absolutely nothing” like a bumper sticker saying “coexist” in the shape of every known religion. And if you rebuke me by stating you believe in loving everyone, then I’vevgot news for you, there already is a religously-affiliated faith that does this. You may want to check it out.

Since this sticker was in the shape of a dog’s foot, I knew what this one would be about – “I have a dog, his name is Fluffy, and I love him oh so dearly.”

Well, isn’t that special?

This particular sticker said exactly what I posted earlier – “Life is just so much better with my dog.” After I read this message, I tilted my head sideways in confusion. You know, just like a dog will do when it’s trying to decipher what its master is communicating. A couple of thoughts came to mind when I did this; namely the first two above, but I soon arrived at a real humdigner as I followed this doggie-lover to my next destination – I realized how incredibly ridiculous most bumper stickers really are and how tiny a message they make in our everyday lives. But for whatever reason, we put them on our cars like they really mean something. As if we’re making some profound statement about our lives and we want everyone who shares the road with us to know it. Was that the intent of this driver? Could have been, sure. But it also could not. For the sake of this argument, and the majority of bumper stickers out there, I think it’s trying to say something. It’s like a tattoo; only this tattoo is for our car. But here’s the kicker, since it’s just for our car, we have little to no stake in the game. We can remove this sticker at our leisure if we want to. For example, if one day Fluffy changes his mind about me and decides to bite me, I can take that sticker right off. I’ll run my car through the nearest carwash and erase all traces of my “must love dogs” sign.

It’s just that easy.

Real tattoos are a bit harder to remove (or so I’ve been told). But harder still are the emotional tattoos we recieve from others; many of which are given without our consent whatsoever. Those are the most real to us and the ones we don’t always like to show off to everyone else. So why is it that we put these semi-meaningless stickers (with apparently meaningful messages) on our cars and parade them around like they’re worth something to us? Considering all I’ve said, I really don’t get it. If you really love that dog of yours, then buy it a bone; or take it outside to play catch. If you enjoy football so much, then call a friend and talk to them about it. And if you really feel like we should “love” one another, then maybe you need to check in with yourself about what you really believe. And then question if your bumper sticker truly is making the impact that you were hoping to achieve.

Because let’s face it, if you’re leaving the dynamics of your message up to a bumper sticker, then I’ve got news for you: the message just isn’t getting delivered.

And P.S. to all the manufacturers of bummper stickers – No, I’m not trying to put you out of business. I just wish you’d make some better stickers. Or better yet, ones that don’t revolve around dogs or cats.

And P.S.S. to all those who have bumper stickers supporting their kids who play sports or proudly wear their alma mater in the rear view window – Yes, I think you should keep those on your car. Those actually make more sense.

Thanks, J.C.L.

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