California

My Dog Ate Your Stick Figure Family

We’ve all seen them: the little stickers people put on their cars that represent them, sometimes a significant other, and some sort of offspring of the child or pet variety or even both. They can be simple lines and circles, or they represent not only the family but also some other interest of the driver such as Star Wars (Han, Leia, tiny Chewy, tiny storm trooper) or Hawai’i (Big Island and then all the smaller ones by size). I’ve seen Mama and Papa guns with baby firearms, bears, ghosts, cats, trucks, zombies, vampires, dogs, and a myriad of others. All cruising down the road on the rear of various cars. It says a lot about someone who can not only express their love and details of family but also another passion in one set of decals.

Then of course are the counter stickers where someone has put on their car some sort of saying or visual depiction of the destruction of a stick figure family. They range from Godzilla or a zombi rending apart the lines and circle—eyes now Xs, mouths now little O’s of horror—to an AT-AT blasting through a jumble of body parts.

I don’t particularly like the stick figure family thing. But when I think about it, the people who do it are actually telling others on their commute that they love their family so much they want everyone on the road to know it. That doesn’t seem so terrible. To self advertise family love. We need more of that in the world for sure.

And then what of the other types of stickers? The ones of “my delinquent son beat up your stick figure family” ilk? What are they reacting to? Is the cheesy depiction of a loving family so appalling to them that they need to brand their vehicle with the opposite? What is happening with those anti-stick figure family stickers isn’t that the driver dislikes stickers but that they dislike public displays of love. They are reacting to a depiction of a caring, happy family. They want to be known by a bunch of driving strangers that they dislike love in a community so much that they went and bought a representation of tearing it apart. I don’t get that even more than I don’t get the putting a stick figure family on your car in the first place. Why wouldn’t you want to advertise that you are anti-family?

All cheese aside, maybe we need to more publicly love our family whether it is our blood family or the one we’ve made over the years. I’m not about to put a set of stickers on my car, but I will now look at the ones out there as little boosts of love in the world. And be reminded to say a quiet word of thanks for having a community who loves me and I love. To my family, of both blood and spirit: I love you. You are a stick figure sticker on my heart.

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