For a number of reasons that will be dealt with later, I’ve been under an unusual amount of stress lately. The raw effect of this for my family is that I’m more short tempered than normal, and much less tolerant of my kids’ perfectly normal (if perfectly obnoxious) behavior. My students can’t see me in person, so they don’t experience my deep sighs when they ask questions with answers I consider obvious. Unlike my kids and husband, they never receive responses like, “I don’t fucking know. Jesus Christ, do I look like the Dali Lama?” To keep these moments to a minimum, I’ve been letting the Jester Queen have a bit more free rein. She is, after all, my sense of humor, and if I can catch my emotional waves right, she can give me the oomph to ride one and not get dumped face first in the sand.
That’s the background. Here’s the story.
Linda came over this morning to borrow our lawnmower. She arrived in her Dad’s truck, which she has borrowed because the house she and Robert are renting has a washer and dryer already, and her Mom wants Linda’s old ones. The truck is an immaculate Ford, and her Dad is a man who loves his truck. As soon as we had loaded up the mower, she flipped up the gate to reveal a panoply of right wing political stickers.
“That needs something,” I said.
“What do you mean?” asked Linda, whose viewpoints couldn’t possibly be more different from those expressed on the stickers.
“I dunno,” I said. “Something … virulently liberal. Something that would run counter to everything those things support. But I can’t think what.”
“Rainbow flag,” said Scott, as he pulled out of the driveway heading for a staff meeting.
Oh, how I love that man.
Now, I’ll pause here to say that I know sexuality should not have to be a political issue. That groups like the Log Cabin Republicans clearly prove that you don’t have to be a liberal to support equality for all Americans. And I personally know numerous Republicans who support GLBT rights.
Linda and I are pretty sure her Dad isn’t one of them.
But finding a rainbow flag bumper sticker in the Heart of Dixie proved to be quite the challenge. I tried the mall, where a wonderful clerk at Hot Topic could only come up with a couple of stickers where the words were in the colors of the rainbow flag. They said “awesome” and “deal with it”. Not bad. But not what I wanted, really. At Spenser’s, the clerk looked at me like I should have known that all people over twenty (or twenty-five at the outside edge) were banned from that store, and said “No” to my query about rainbow flags. After that, I got smart and used the phone. I called Star, who suggested a number of stores. But the Earthbound Trading Company, the Hippie Lady, and Books-A-Million were all busts. On Facebook, I got suggestions like Jo-Ann’s Fabrics, Michael’s Crafts, and the Hobby Lobby. Dead ends. (Though I found the horrified silence at the other end of the phone while the Hobby Lobby clerk contemplated my request extremely validating.) I found a great shop in Minneapolis that could have helped me, except that they were in the wrong state. Sigh. Another day, True Colors, another day, and you shall have my business. Star sounded mighty sure about Spenser’s. And hell, that had been where my hopes had been highest, too. So I called back.
The person I spoke to (who sounded remarkably similar to the person who had told me “No” previously) said they had a whole wall that I must have walked past. When I arrived, it seemed the confusion had been caused by my asking for “stickers” in person where I had said “stickers or magnets” on the phone. Spenser’s had no rainbow flag stickers. All they had were magnets. Well.
The selection was admittedly meager, but I still got some gems: a rainbow peace sign, a rainbow ribbon magnet, another rainbow ribbon magnet that said “Support gay marriage: everyone deserves the choice to be miserable”, and a rectangular one that said “I’m so gay I can’t even drive straight”. Not bad for a town with a single store monopoly.
I told the sales guy at Spenser’s the scheme, and he summed it up well: “Until he notices and peels them off, that guy’s gonna have a whole lot of people thinking ‘that dude is confused’”.
By the time Linda came over later, it was dark, but we affixed the whole collection to see what looked best.
I would have loved to have found something actually political, but nobody carried those “I’m a blue dot in a red state” bumper stickers, so I couldn’t implement Star’s brilliant suggestion to cut off the words and leave the picture of the red state with a blue dot. Because Linda’s Dad isn’t a stupid person, and to affix something he will leave alone is going to take some sly maneuvering. He might not have noticed that one. Without the words, he might have just seen the red state and not picked up on the significance of the blue dot. The other thing I’d have liked to have found would have been that long rainbow flag that runs the length of the bumper and doesn’t say a word. It blends in with most vehicles and he might not have seen it for awhile.
In the end, we settled for the one we thought the most flagrant of the lot. It initially seemed like the worst candidate, because its message was so strong. But there was little possibility of convincing Linda’s Dad that the rainbow ribbon was some kind of military support thing. And the peace sign was pretty anti-NRA, even if he didn’t notice the color scheme. The reason we decided that “I’m so gay I can’t even drive straight” might just fly under the radar is twofold. First, when the truck is initially returned, Robert and Linda will be popping the gate down to haul out the washer and dryer. Second, there was already a sticker there: the bomb squad one. So Linda’s Dad is used to seeing something there. Admittedly, he’s used to seeing red and black, not, well, the whole rainbow, but it might be just enough to not draw his eye, especially because, according to Linda, the place he parks makes it unnecessary to walk around behind the truck getting into and out of it at home.