Warning: the following post is uncharitable, nasty, brutish, and too long. It’s inappropriate for Advent, and unbecoming of Catholicity in general.
Think of it as a kind of therepeutic literary effleurage: by indulging in some light grousing, I’m distracting myself from my larger, more serious beef, which is that I’m still here. Not lying in a hospital bed with heated blankets tucked around my legs, hearing the nurses say, “You know, Mrs. Fisher, all babies are beautiful, but this one is really something special. Here is some food that you didn’t cook, and when you’re done, you really must take a nap.”
All right, so here we go.
We don’t have any bumper stickers on our vehicle. I feel that the fact that we’re using all 11 seat belts speaks for itself. Plus, I know that the minute I put up some pro-life message, then that would be the day I would scream at the kids so loudly that I would black out and rear end a shiny new BMW driven by the director of the local Planned Parenthood. It’s not that I don’t heart little children; it’s just that they NEVER SHUT UP.
I am, however, an avid reader and editorializer of other people’s bumper stickers. Because I don’t like anything (see paragraph 1), about 99% of them make me mad (the other 1%, I don’t get, because I’m old). The worst are the ones I agree with, in theory—and yet I know that I and the owner of the bumper sticker mean entirely different things. For instance:
These sanctimonious little bumperturds started showing up long before the Westboro Baptist Church people became famous for their disgusting ideas about Who hates what; and nobody really uses the phrase “family values” anymore, do they? So who are they talking to, when they imply that someone does consider “hate” to be a “family value?” I find it very hard to shake the idea that the owner of these bumper stickers perceive a normal family, composed of a married, monogamous mother and father with children, to be itself some form of hate speech; and then I’m put in the position of feeling the urge to administer a little fraternal correction in the form of SMASH.
This one is also a prime example of slathering on the self-love while pretending to educate. I mean, the people they’re ostensibly enlightening are those whose vision is permanently clouded by a shimmering red haze of rage, which makes it hard to read bumper stickers, never mind to meditatively stroke one’s chin in a sudden epiphany about the superiority of love over hate.
No, the sole purpose of this bumper sticker is to give a little lift to those who consider themselves hate-free, a little tingly feeling in the spot where their pituitary gland used to be, before they had surgically removed and replaced with a certified cruelty-free smugness delivery device, which responds to the presence of sustainable bamboo carseat covers by pumping feelings of self-worth directly into the cerebral cortex (now on sale for the Solstice!).
Well, now we know whom to hog-tie and offer as a propitiatory sacrifice next time we’re invaded.
The implication is that most women ought to be going out and making history. Ugh. The truth is, history only needs to be made every once in a while. Most of the time, what is required (and what is harder than it looks) is for people do boring old, well-behaved things like going to work, cooking food, changing the oil in the car, and wiping the smooshed banana off the floor, even when we don’t feel like it. If you’ve ever been in a room full of women who take pride in being ill-behaved, you will quickly learn the value of both good behavior and a hip flask.
Come to think of it, some of the most well-behaved women I know change history for the better all the time—they just don’t go driving around talking about it. Or driving.
“Mama, why are you throwing up all over the dashboard?” I explained that it was a normal, natural reaction to an overdose of extreme smugitude; and that furthermore, if I ever caught any children of mine referring in a coy and stroking manner to their own imaginations, I’d make them take cod liver oil. And not in the fun way.
Anyway, my 9-year-old son offered that, when he grew up, he was going to have a bumper sticker that says, “VENGEANCE IS SWEET.” His younger brother enthusiastically agreed, and it turns out that the two of them were under the impression that personal and bloody vengeance is a thoroughly brilliant and moral career path.
It’s possible that our Bible readings have been a tad heavy on the Old Testament lately. Or maybe, God forbid, they’ve been listening to their mother. Well, happy Advent. And for goodness’ sake, if you have any sense, just stay away from my car.