Here’s some bumper sticker/wooden sign wisdom that I picked up in several artsy-crafty Sisters stores yesterday:
“My greatest fear is that there is no PMS, and this is my personality.”
“If life were logical, men would ride side-saddle.”
“Isn’t a smoking area in a restaurant like a peeing area in a swimming pool?”
“My wife keeps saying I never listen to her…or something like that.”
“If I want to hear the pitter-patter of little feet, I’ll put shoes on my dog.”
I started paying more attention to this pithy literary genre because I was looking for a way to entertain myself while Laurel pawed through seemingly endless bins of prints, searching for some artwork that we needed in our house for some reason that never quite registered on me (guess I should have bought #4 above.)
So I’d get out my always-handy notepad and pen and jot down sayings that struck me, figuring that this was more courteous and less likely to result in annoyed looks from the store owner than taking a flash photo of the bumper sticker or wooden sign whose message I wanted to remember but didn’t want to buy.
Now I have a shopping purpose in life, somewhat comparable but much less intense than Laurel’s quest for the ultimate pair of dichroic glass earrings. I shall continue accumulating the best short sayings I see until I have several hundred. Then I will publish them in a Best Bumper Stickers book, sit back, and wait for several hundred copyright infringement complaints to flow in, the cost of which to settle will suck up all of my royalties.
Better think of another book idea. Like the wonderful “Walter the Farting Dog” that Laurel bought yesterday. This is a great book and appears to be a best-seller, which isn’t surprising given the title. “Farting” is a guaranteed attention-getter, whether the word is spoken or written, and even more so when the action is enthusiastically indulged in.
A bit more about George W. Bush and bumper sticker wisdom: in the September 13 issue of “The New Yorker” there is an article on “Bush Speak—the President’s vernacular style.” The author, Philip Gourevitch, concludes what I have always thought myself. Namely, “He is grossly underestimated as an orator by those who presume that good grammar, rigorous logic, and a solid command of the facts are the essential ingredients of political persuasion, and that the absence of these skills indicates a lack of intelligence.”
Actually, says Gourevitch, Bush’s intelligence “is—if not especially literate—acutely verbal.” Bush clearly is a better speaker than Kerry, and I’m afraid he is going to clean the floor with Kerry in the presidential debates. One reason is that Bush knows how to put his points across as if he was reading from a series of bumper stickers. His words are simple, understandable, and strong. In contrast, Gourevitch observes, “John Kerry can speak rousingly for whole paragraphs without saying anything precise or concrete.”
Kerry would do well to spend some time as I did yesterday: reading bumper stickers and being exposed to writing that says a lot in a few words. I’m no one to talk, of course, as I love to spend a page saying what could be said in a couple of lines. But I’m not running for president. Kerry is, and we desperately need him to learn how to speak effectively. Now!