Put yourself in a box and sell yourself

The identity crisis I’m facing comes to bear most at the elementary school drop-off corral. We live in a rich area. People are in a hurry, late for yoga, conveying updates via mobile devices, voice-recognition apps, distracted, caffeinated, made-up.

I drive a 1990 Volvo station wagon. The back windshield wiper was broken off by one of our kids and now it’s just a mechanical nub. I have a bumper sticker that reads Guided by Voices. The muffler is sagging, prone to scrape over speed-bumps, requires I really slow down on low clearance areas to prevent sparks.

You’re supposed to pull forward in the drop-off lane and there’s a sign there, a well meaning sign, a sign that would have a fucking emoticon by it with a smily face that reads “Synergize.” In other words, don’t be a dick in your car at the drop-off corral.

There’s a gap between me and the next car I’m behind, and a woman in a large, black suburban wedges in front of me, her ass sticking out in the road. It looks like a car Arnold Scharzenegger would drive.

It’s fine, I kiss Lily goodbye and tell her have a nice day and pull out, to pass the suburban. I do, then stop to let a couple other cars glide out in front. See, I’m Synergizing.

But the woman in the suburban behind me is now pissed off and making faces. So I say Fucking Bitch: I say it to myself in the car, like I’m coughing something up, I have to get it out because it’s poison, a bad humour like phlegm or cholera. I say Fucking Bitch and realize she can read my lips in the rearview mirror and now knows who my daughter is, which is bad.

In fact, she has barked it into her phone at her yoga partner, make sure to save me a spot in the back by the heaterthis like stoner in a piece of shit Volvo won’t get out of my way.

We fall asleep to the iTunes 2009 era Visualizer app, which throws pulses of light and dots flittering onscreen, reminds me of The Journey of the Sperm, some film from high school sex ed.

I go to the iTunes Radio to pick out an ambient station, and about 600 appear, with sub-categories like Chillout and Lounge and millions of variants thereof that all make me tired suddenly, like subscribing to The New Yorker, all this landing at my door I can’t make time for.

The woman in the suburban gets ahead of me and accelerates in that kind of Fuck You way when you pump the gas pedal down and the engine roars, and you feel dominant. She has that decal on the back window that everyone has showing the number of kids they have like badges, the kids are stick figures and waving “hi!” and she’ll speed to the yoga studio and run a couple stop signs, then park as close as she can to the entrance.

I am reading about marketing my writing and wondering if there is a market for ex-Punks raising their kids in the suburbs, trying not to fit in and stand out, instead. And can I have any kind of Punk cred whatever living here, falling asleep to Visualizer apps and Pat Metheny. And who started the trend with the decal stick figure families I want their head on a stick.


Categories: humor

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

30 replies

  1. I would like to see a family decal with everyone’s head on a stick just to freak people out. I have friends with those decals and try to remind myself of that every time I see those damned things. But I can’t stop the immediate conversation in my head – “Hey, look everyone, I breed people and sometimes pets!”

    The problem with labels is that even the ones that we pick out for ourselves don’t fit. And if there’s no place for a stoner writer in a piece of shit Volvo, you make room, blaze a trail and take a few weirdo friends with you for company. There’s just no time for living any other way, Bill. I think I’ve been listening to my Alan Watts CDs a bit too much lately.


    • Yeah, damn right: you go girl! I’m going to buy cat nip now to try to encourage the cats to use a leaning scratch post I moved to make way for my new Writing Area in the corner. Weirdos, climb in. I don’t where we’re going but we’re leaving like soon.


  2. That decal is issued with the purchase of all Honda Odysseys in the state of Ohio. They won’t sell it to you unless you agree to the decal.

    Keep on synergizin’. Can’t do any harm, I say.


    • Dig that on the synergizing thing, even though it’s a bad, made-up, corporate BS kind of word. So it’s Ohio, then? That would make sense, right in the middle of the country. Plug Ohio up and stop the bleeding. Looking forward to your weekly post, mister!


  3. Here, they’re called Mi Familia stickers, which makes it somehow sound mafia related instead of just “my family” in Spanish.


  4. Love this today. Adrenalized! And this: “like subscribing to The New Yorker.” Made me laugh.
    I passed a luxury car the other day driven (aren’t the all?) by a highly maintained bottle blond with a scowl. I call her “sour Porsche.”
    P.S. Even punks need to chill.


    • Punks especially need to chill, hence the Eno Ambient Medication Program. I’m glad the New Yorker line made you laugh. I’m glad you’re adrenalized! Is that a word?!

      OK be honest: have you been reading your DFW? I thought to ping you and see if we could agree on a deadline. What say you?


      • Reading right now. On 938 of my iBook’s 1440 (including the footies). I suspect it will take me close to the end of the month. But things are clipping along, only I have to stop watching basketball games, speaking of chilling. The son will be moving out soon, so good to grasp these rare moments of BBB (basketball bonding).


  5. float on by, muffler making sparks and all –


  6. In Utah we have the polygamists doing decals. You can imagine what that looks like.


    • That’s an image I never imagined, which I love. We could really go somewhere with that.

      Utah, huh? I love Utah, went there on our honeymoon…started at Moab and worked our way west. Beautiful state.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What can I say, Bill? “I feel your pain”? Too much of a cliché, but well, the ‘reality’ you conjure feels like hell. Not a good start with a misunderstood and misused word outside a school. We don’t live like this in Shropshire, (or not very much) though we do have the school run.


    • Shropshire sounds nice. I’ve also really been enjoying the Fodrambler blog, and yesterday read about The Forest of Dean, where he lives. Of course, I don’t need to go elsewhere to read about Shropshire, but your blog. Like when the road jams up with the lorries trying to get through, good image. It wasn’t as much a hell as I paint it. It is all in one’s head, innit? Thanks for reading, Tish.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Have you been rattling around inside my head again? I live in the same area (economically). I drive my ’04 Subaru and sneer and shoot hate darts at the Hummers and Jaguars that whiz past me. It’s all in my head–those people don’t know I exist–but it’s still very real to me.

    Stick-figure families are the new Baby on Board decals.Remember those? I’m happy to report that the stick-figure family backlash has begun. I occasionally see a stick figure wearing a hockey mask running with a chain saw hoisted above his head. He’s chasing a family of stick figures.

    I did a double-take because there’s a Bukowski short story (a dark one) titled “You Kissed Lilly.” My morning weirdness.


    • I do remember the Baby on Board signs, for sure. And I guess it is a kind of status and it’s perhaps nice too, to say OK let’s go get one because now it’s our turn. It’s really my wife I’ll blame here, because she hates them most and I didn’t notice them until my wife pointed them out, and now it seems they’re everywhere. I have seen the one with the hockey mask and love that.

      Should I read that Bukowski story? Don’t answer. I don’t need to read any of that for a while, I’m still stuck in this other quagmire.


  9. Or else that woman who you assume is “late for yoga” might actually be late for work, or rushing to get the sick toddler who’s bundled up in the backseat back home and back into bed, or in a hurry to pick up her Mom to take her to another doctor’s appointment.

    I’m a huge fan of your work, Bill, but I’ve read this post three times now, and it absolutely drips with misogyny.


    • Yeah, altogether possible on the sick toddler/late for work, for sure. It’s how you choose to see the world and interact with it, isn’t it? For some reason on this day it put me off. And I hate to come off as a misogynist of course, could have been a guy driving (I could write a number of those posts too) but in this case, it seems they’re mainly women at the elementary school drop-off. That’s maybe some other commentary there too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, I’m reflecting on my comment and think it was a little harsh. But it’s the “bitch” thing and assuming that a woman would have nothing better to do with her day than to go to a yoga class that set me off.


      • No worries Karen…it’s all good. The problem is I NEED TO DO MORE YOGA. It’s a simplified device to make fun of the people in our neighborhood, because there are plenty of stereotypes on both gender-sides. I’m trying not to become one myself, is the challenge. But we’re all flawed somehow. Don’t worry about hurting my feelings or being harsh, I appreciate you reading and sharing how it makes you feel. All good. “Namaste.”


  10. Guided by Voices…i recall that was a band my husband liked when we met. He had a bumper sticker at the time that said ‘im HUGE’, which was a mst3k reference but embarrassed me every time someone asked about it. I’ve always wanted an old Volvo, though at this point suspect I never will. Car lines are fucking crazy. We live in the same kind of area. Think I’ve covered it all. Oh wait, this was awesome. I look forward to every post.


    • Old Volvos are probably a bad idea, in general. The maintenance fees ran in $500 increments. But I made a mistake; I fell in love with the car…formed an emotional bond with it. Now I won’t let it go. I have to use a spatula to get the sun roof to close properly (don’t ask) and many small things about the car don’t work. But when my wife got hit in it by a teenager in his car, he totaled his car and ours didn’t really blink. So that felt good. The kid was OK, my wife was OK, and his car was totaled because he ran into ours, which is like a tank.

      So glad you like my posts! Thank you thank you thank you! Funny about your husband’s bumper sticker, too. I like it.


  11. That rage is what being in peri-menopause feels like most of the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry for that; really nothing I can say here that’s going to be productive. But thank you for sharing your impressions with me on being an exPat, from a separate thread…I appreciate it. And well wishes for your time with your sister.


  12. I personally would love to have a decal of myself riding a dragon and slaying that stick family with a sword.


    • That’s good, there must be a place you can buy that, with blood erupting from their decapitated heads. That’s good: go start a business and send me the link, I’ll buy one!


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