Please welcome Frank Nappi, author of Nobody Has to Know. Frank is discussing something I think we can all relate too: his disdain for annoying and distasteful bumper stickers! Don’t forget to enter to win a $50 Amazon Giftcard in the book blast!

Bump the Stickers
Recently, a reader of my latest novel Nobody Has To Know asked me if there are any similarities between me and my protagonist, Cameron Baldridge. The query was met with more than just a little trepidation, since Cameron, a high school English teacher who gets involved intimately with one of his female students, shares the same profession with yours truly. After managing to dodge that bullet, this reader and ardent fan of the book altered the course of her inquiry and re-introduced the question: “Well, that may not be a similarity, but you can’t tell me that there is none of you in Cameron. Come on…give me just one similarity between author and character.”

Fair enough.

I am a staunch believer that all characters reflect in some way their creator.I mused a bit over some of the less damning parallels between my protagonist and me, chuckling from time to time at some of the idiosyncrasies and experiences that we share. There is the rabid worshipping of the New York Mets, the childhood jaunts through the various hot spots on Long Island, and of course the obsessive love of language and literature. These satisfied her curiosity for the most part, but not enough to preclude one last question: “What about personalized license plates? Do you have the aversion to these as Cameron does?”

Her reference to a conversation that occurs early on in the novel between Cameron and his fiancée Hayley made me laugh. I had not even considered this.“No,” I replied whimsically. “I don’t really have a major issue with license plates. But bumper stickers? Bumper stickers are another story.”

Allow me to clarify.

I love living on Long Island. I believe that most native Long Islanders feel the same way and are indeed proud to call the odd shaped island our home. Most of us recognize the unique nature of our home and celebrate its attributes accordingly. We remain enamored with the miles of beaches that stretch endlessly from shore to shore and are equally fond of the many beautiful parks that house our spring and summer recreational endeavors. We are also very proud of our neighborhoods and award winning schools – so much so that we have even come to accept a shortcoming or two, such as the escalating population and traffic many of us withstand on a daily basis. Who wouldn’t endure a little gridlock in exchange for the privilege of living in paradise? What I find intolerable, however, is having to look at the spate of automobiles whose bumpers are emblazoned with inane, self-indulgent, sometimes vulgar sentiments designed to alter the world’s perception.

Isn’t sitting in traffic punishment enough?

At some point, our population’s focus shifted away from topics of a religious or political nature to expressions which illustrate the collective ignorance, narcissism and irreverence which plague our society. Messages urging people to assume and active role in government (“Vote”) or to extol the value of peace rather than strife (“Make Love Not War”) have degenerated into odd admonitions reflecting an irrational malevolence or stupidity. The parent who boasts of his child’s belligerence (“My Child Beat Up Your Honor Student”) or the woman who proclaims her propensity for wild, aggressive behavior (“I Have PMS and a Gun – Any Questions?”) are frightening on so many levels. What exactly is the message these folks are trying to convey? And don’t they realize that the mantras they have selected for their vehicles become a reflection of their character?

The car bumper has, once again, become a pulpit from which the common man may espouse his views on the world. I suppose this may still have its advantages. In our travels, we are implored to “Think Globally and Act Locally,” to “Save the Whales”, and to “Just Say No To Drugs.” These are all very worthwhile sentiments. However, as the popular adage goes, a little power can be a dangerous thing. Although I am truly comforted to know that “Jesus Loves Me” and that when all else fails, “Love is the Answer,” I see nothing redeeming about an edict which requires me to “Honk if I’m Horny” or to “Question Authority.” I am equally offended by the myriad messages which hold as their basic tenets topics which are both explicit and scatological.

Is there really anyone out there who believes that flatulence will arrest the progress of a determined tailgater?

I suppose my real issue with bumper stickers is not so much what is being said as it is why. Who has ever had an epiphany while driving behind a bumper sticker clad pickup truck on the Long Island Expressway? It seems that the bumper sticker, like the pet rock, mood ring, and Rubics Cube, should have acquiesced to the passage of time long ago. Would anyone really miss them?

Besides, don’t we have enough to do while driving; between applying eye makeup, shaving, eating and texting, who really has time to read anyway?

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