On Snobbery, Bumper Stickers, and Political Signs
by Jamison Koehler on January 20, 2011
Our neighbors finally took down the inflatable plastic Santa Claus they strapped down onto their front lawn shortly after Thanksgiving. I breathed a sigh of relief. My wife laughed at me for being such a Grinch: Why should I care what our neighbors do with their property?
I admit it: I am a snob.
My wife and I used to spend a lot of time on the island of Chincoteague in Virginia. You know, from the book, Misty of Chincoteague? In the trailer park where we stayed during the early years, residents adorned their yards with shiny plastic balls and ceramic deer, swans and pelicans, and there is something about that plastic Santa Claus that reminds me of the trailer park. We didn’t pay all this money to live in this neighborhood, I tell my wife, so that I could feel like I am living in a trailer park. My wife rolls her eyes and groans. I look to my children for support. They roll their eyes and groan too: Daaaad!
I also have a thing about bumper stickers. This too has been a source of contention between my wife and me. Nothing you can say in two or three words, I tell my wife, is worth saying, and there is certainly no need to broadcast your political views or to try to impose them onto other people.
My wife has always had lots of bumper stickers on her car. The back bumper on my car is bare. When my brother gave me the family car many years ago that had been passed down from child to child and I finally had my first car, the very first thing I did was take off the bumper sticker. Even then I was a snob.
My wife has always been involved in local politics, first here in Arlington and then in Philadelphia. She served as legal counsel to the man who eventually became mayor, taking a case on campaign finance reform all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and he has always been very generous in crediting her publicly with his win. I came downstairs many nights to find them huddled around our dining room table. We also hosted fundraisers. The political sign would be prominently displayed on our front lawn the day of the meeting. The next morning it was in our garage. I am thinking you can guess which of us did which.