Is it just me or has your utterly innocent remark ever become the catalyst for the most senseless tirade? Don’t you want to scream out loud and announce to the narrator (perpetrator) that you were merely trying to forgo, not facilitate? Well, just recently I was the recipient of one such unending invective when I shared my love for witty one-liners with my good friend Timothy Theiler. Luckily for us, Tim is smart, funny, observant and remarkably adept at reading between the lines (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rumni-saha/post_13600_b_12903498.html http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rumni-saha/the-only-list-you-need-fo_b_13745416.html). Here’s word for word his pithy dissertation when I mentioned the word “bumper sticker”:
“The thing about bumper stickers is that unless you can pass, they are right in front of you and of course whatever pop philosophy, political potshot or cause de jour they promote, become yours. The worst by far are the ones that read, ‘Coexist’. That’s because they are invariably posted by the slowest drivers, who, if they were at all interested in co-existing, would simply post something like ‘Feel Free to Pass me as I Drive Slowly’. And, if I am not mistaken, coexisting would be a lot easier if they weren’t highway-loitering in front of their fellow commuters and bossing them around with one word commands. Sure they want to coexist but they don’t seem to mind that I am obligated to coexist behind them at their pace. So here I am going 58 miles per hour in the left lane where Mr. coexist has apparently taken up residence. Maybe he has leftist tendencies? But wouldn’t the right lane be more coexist-friendly?
As the captive audience of the bumper sticker display, you are stuck with all varieties of mobile witticisms including the declaration of love or hatred for a sports team, the ‘I Love My Cat’, the ‘I Spade My Dog’, the ‘I Club My Seal’ and the omnipresent— ‘God is my co-pilot’, which instantly raises two points: 1) I am surprised that he lets you drive. 2) You do know by now that he never stops for a bathroom break? And of course your kid is an honor student at some expensive academy or your kid beat up someone else’s honor student. Bumper sticker on bumper sticker satire presupposes that we should be busy getting the joke when we are supposed to be, I don’t know, maybe busy driving safely?
I do appreciate the accolades you rain upon your beige minivan for having distinguished itself by climbing Mount Washington. Let’s face the facts: Your car had no choice in the matter. It, like me, was subject to the persistent yet flaccid will of your accelerator foot.
In any case, we are not coexisting. In a very real sense, you are a preexisting condition.
So as I find myself unnecessarily annoyed by this poet/philosopher/comedian in my way, I realize that the fault really lies with me for not having left the house a precious minute sooner. I am therefore obligated to accept my fate and bask in the irony of the advice that ‘Resentment is like a poison that you drink while hoping that the other person dies’.
I don’t remember asking for the advice and I really don’t want the other person to die; I just want him to coexist somewhere else.
Still, left with no choice, I press on through Interstate Aristotle’s bumper wisdom and I get to the ultimate nugget: ‘Dream as if you will live forever, live as if you will die tomorrow’.
OK, Descartes in a Dodge, just a few problems with that:
First, living as if you will die tomorrow requires that your first waking thought would be, oh shit, I am going to die tomorrow!
Obviously these things require planning; every day loose ends and the terror of death punctuated by that awkward call to the florist and funeral home that always starts with oh, uh, you again?
And dreaming as if you will live forever is on your watch. It’s entirely your business how you dream. But living forever has its downside:
First, your financial planner would freak out because they’d think that you would outlive your money but then they’d realize that immortality and compound interest would make you comically wealthy; however you would become the target of the aforementioned poisonous resentments. For example:
Your Friend: Happy Birthday, AGAIN.
You: I remember that I was there for your first birthday and your wedding.
Your Friend: And you can read my eulogy-- I get it! Just go to hell!
You: I can’t. I am living forever and you are not helping me. You are still in my way.
Your Friend: What’s the rush?
You: I don’t want to be late for my own funeral.
Your Friend: When is that?
And when dear Tim stopped just as abruptly as he had started, I remembered the words that had caught my eye while driving to work the other day:
For obvious reasons, I kept this one to myself.