Real Men Love Jesus
Seen on a green Camry, unaccompanied

Real men (and the intent of the word real, I think, is to convey not only a comparative sense [more authentic, or more earnest], but also to combine this with an ontological sense, i.e. actual men, as opposed to fake) have an affection -- a strong one, some might say -- for Jesus (I’m assuming the scope of the expression is limited to the supposed Messiah of Christianity, and not, say, a person of Hispanic descent who happens to be improbably popular). As a life-long Catholic, however, I’m familiar with the aspects attributed to the object of affection referenced above -- and “narcissist” is not one of Jesus’ standard epithets, i.e. He did not love himself. And this brings into question, well, if Jesus did not love himself, then, logically, he is not a real man. Reaching back into my recesses I recall that one of the main tenets of Catholicism (and Christianity in general) is that Jesus was a real human being sent down as the son of God to suffer as a real human being -- just like us. 

And so this bumper sticker contradicts one of the central beliefs of the religion it endorses and hopes to promote. 

Even a weak interpretation of the intent of real in the text of this bumper sticker leads to startlingly disturbing conclusions about Jesus vis a vis his masculinity. If he was not real in the comparative sense, then we are left to wonder, what kind of man was he?


Happiness is a Northbound Yankee
Seen on a beat-up truck

There’s kind of a lot going on here “that needs teasing out,” as some of my old professors would say. This bumper sticker engages in what is referred to as the use/mention distinction. The easiest way to explain this is by example -- if we were to substitute ‘happiness’ in its mention form, the bumper sticker would correctly read: “Happiness is a nine-letter word.” However, this particular slogan is utilizing ‘happiness’ in its use form, which can be pliable and, as seen above, stupid. This statement essentially says that the bearer’s well-being hinges entirely upon the transportation, either by self or by agent (notice the destination need not be terminal, i.e. ending in the traditional North above the Mason-Dixon line) of Northern-born people towards the Artic-most magnetic pole. Considering the difficulties in identifying by the sole criteria of appearance those who either reside, were conceived, or birthed in the North, I would guess that the driver of this truck does not often experience happiness in any form. 


Drive It Like You Stole It
Seen on the same truck as above

Despite some ambiguity (“it” could be taken a number of imaginative ways), it’s safe to assume that this sticker is exhorting its readers to operate their automobiles, RVs, and mobile shanties in the manner of a thief, which we are left to extrapolate as “zanily” or “fast and wild” or maybe even “unexpectedly.” However, without a time reference in the text, it is hard for a reader to know the precise attitude to affect in relation to the driving of his automobile, e.g.: "Say, for instance, you stole a car right off the street. At first, to avoid capture, you would speed away as fast and as recklessly (which unfortunately has the usual corollary of attracting attention) as possible without endangering yourself. But then, maybe it’s five or ten years down the road: you still have the stolen car, heck -- you even sold it to your son at a cut-rate for his birthday. You drive it now and then, for old time’s sake, and on those raw, early-spring days when you do, it’s at a leisurely pace, soaking in the perfume of dead cigarettes and a faulty exhaust system”. 

Having absorbed this little vignette, we’re left wondering whether to drive like the excited and paranoid first-minute thief or like the paunch-bellied nostalgic decade-old thief. This bumper sticker’s simplicity, like a Zen koan, belies a dynamic that’s nuanced enough to provide long periods of meditation and/or considerable mind-fucking. 

Taken in conjunction with the second bumper sticker though, one is left to suppose that this man’s idea of heaven is a magical land where both New Jerseyans and New Yorkers are trawled along the highway at horrific (but entertaining) velocities, and then deposited (taking what we learned above) at the feet of Jesus, who appears either as a sort of hirsute version of Casper, or um, a nancy-boy. 

[Forever after at http://eyeshot.net/hydebump.html


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