Monday, October 14, 2013

My Favorite Bumper Sticker


I bet this peace creep wonders why he doesn' tget invited to parties
No one’s ever asked me about my all-time favorite bumper sticker, but if they ever do I’ll answer without a second’s hesitation.  I encountered my favorite bumper sticker exactly once in my life, back in 2006, when I was working in a printshop.  The walls of the place were decorated with examples of our shops printshopping skills.  One bumper sticker in particular caught my eye: “Will trade husband for Beanie Babies.”
 
I didn't have a camera phone back then so you'll just have to settle for these college girls of varying levels of attractiveness

At first I was struck by the anachronism.  2006 was about a decade after Beanie Baby Mania had taken hold of this country as Beatlemania had done three decades prior to that.  For those of you who didn’t live through BBM let me just say it was a wild time when little stuffed animals, not too dissimilar from the kind you can still acquire 50 cents and some mad-claw-game-skillz, became collectibles worth literally a few dollars.  The bumper sticker in question is actually a great example of what set Beanie Baby Mania apart from previous toy fads like pet rocks or hula hoops.  Beanie Babies weren’t just for kids.  Kids don’t have cars or husbands (I hope), and yet someone believed there was a big enough market for women with both of those things who also wished to express a rabidly pro-tiny stuffed toy sentiment on the back of their car.
 
Scrooge McDuck would love this room if he cared about Beanie Babies instead of worthless money
As big as Beanie Babies were, what was the creative process for writing the funniest bumper sticker of all time like?  Was is it a bunch of writers sitting around a table at one of the major bumper sticker conglomerates with the prompt “Will trade husband for ____?”   Rollerblades?  No.  Crystal Clear Pepsi? Forget it.  Beanie Babies?  Fuck yes, promotions for everyone! Or was it a lone genius, who recognized that he had a million dollar idea on his hands and quit his day job to take his chances in the rough and tumble world of bumper sticker publishing? 
 
"Will trade husband for a spaceship ride behind the Hale-Bopp comet?  Too soon?"
I don’t know how many bumper stickers he sold but I have a lot of fun picturing the clientele: chubby middle-aged ladies with jean jackets, jean jackets with Winnie-the-Pooh back patches or perhaps a sassy Tweety bird.  In addition to the Beanie Babies I picture her cubicle littered with the flotsam and jetsam of various short-lived trends of the late 80’s to early 90’s: Chia Pets, troll dolls, and Garfield everywhere.  She has no idea why anyone would find it funny that a lady such as herself has a ceramic pig cookie jar.  She finds the notion of trading her matrimonial partner for a stuffed animal plausible or at the very least humorous.  This is a woman who shouldn’t be driving.  This is a woman who shouldn't be voting.
 
When I was a janitor there was a woman with tacky shit like this all over her cubicle.  Almost every day she complained we didn't vacuum all of the cookie crumbs and candy wrappers under her desk.  If I was her I would've been too embarrassed.
I didn’t have to use my imagination to picture the woman’s husband because the bumper sticker had thoughtfully provided me with an illustration.  The gentleman in question was depicted on the sticker as a fat bald guy, complete with easy chair, bottle of booze, and cartoonish drunk-guy bubbles popping over his head.  Did the hypothetical woman who purchased this bumper sticker turn to Beanie Babies to escape her loveless marriage to a drunken louse?  Or was this guy drunk as a skunk because his wife was a fucking moron who collected stupid toys?  The chicken or the egg?  The line between comedy and tragedy begins to blur.  Then I picture the poor guy picking the kids up from soccer practice in his wife’s Subaru with this sticker on the bumper and it becomes really funny again.  



“Will Trade Husband for Beanie Babies” is the funniest bumper sticker I’ve ever seen in my life by a wide margin, like ten times funnier than “Coexist” or “Google Ron Paul.”  One of my only regrets in life is that I did not think to take a picture of the bumper sticker to share with all of you on a blog many years later.  Oh well, tune in next week when I review my second favorite bumper sticker “Abortion is Murder.”


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