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Glazer: Naked bumpers make for a boring drive
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Over the river and through the woods ... and up Interstate -85 to I-95 to the New Jersey Turnpike. When Grandma lives 20 hours away on eastern Long Island, the Thanksgiving trip can be long and arduous.

For years we made the annual holiday drive to my mother-in-law's house on Peconic Bay. It always was a challenge to keep two girls, born eight years apart, entertained. Singalongs that delighted the baby elicited elaborate eye rolls and deep sighs from her older sister. Books on CD that interested Molly did nothing to entertain little Rachel.

Dee Snow taught us a road game her family always played called Cow Bingo. Each child was assigned one side of the road. They counted every cow they saw. The one with the greatest number of cows took the lead. All that could change in an instant if you passed a cemetery. You had to bury your cows and start over. That game usually got us through the Carolinas and well into Virginia.

Another family favorite was Bumper Anthropology. It's best played while stuck in traffic. You simply look at the car in front of you and try to determine as much as possible about the occupants based on the stickers they choose to display.

Once we were behind a minivan with stick figure decals on the window. There was one for dad, mom, four little girls, two dogs and a cat.

Molly remarked that she bet the kids all had names starting with the same letter, probably "A." At the next rest stop, we happened to park beside that van just as the driver yelled, "Ashley, you and Amber get all those drink cans out of the back!" Good call, Molly.

I doubt the subject of H. Ross Perot would have ever come up in family conversation had we not seen one of his campaign stickers on an ancient sedan crossing the Verrazano Bridge. Ditto the John Birch Society.

In November 2001, almost every car we saw bore a bumper sticker that in some way commemorated the Sept. 11 attacks. It was comforting to see how, at least for a little while, people had come together. Now, nine years later, it's equally sad to realize how far apart we've grown.

There's good advice to be gained from studying the car ahead. One pickup with Wyoming plates proclaimed, "Always drink upstream from the herd." Another car from a Western state advised, "Never smack a man who's chewin' tobacco." Those statements are words to remember no matter where you hail from.

Coffee and chocolate seem to be a topics of universal interest. I recently saw a sticker that read "Death before dishonor. Nothing before coffee." And the one that said, "Save the earth. It's the only planet with chocolate." Amen to that.

So what's on my bumper? There's not much to intrigue the anthropologist in my rear-view mirror. There's a sticker from the Holly Theater in Dahlonega. There's an international oval that promotes my business. And last, a North Hall High school cross country magnet.

Years ago, my girls gave me a sticker that currently resides on the refrigerator. I keep forgetting to take it out to the truck. It reads: "A PBS mind in an MTV world." Good assessment, girls.

When I first started driving in 1971, bumpers were used to display adamant opinions: "America  love it or leave it" or "Another groovy granny for peace."

Now, you see more naked bumpers than not. The cultural anthropologist in me wonders why.

My first inclination is to think people are being cautious. You never know when the guy behind you will react badly to your "So many cats, so few recipes" sticker.

Also, bumpers themselves have changed. Now instead of being made of chrome, they're painted plastic. It's a surface that isn't so sticker friendly.

In a decidedly unscientific study, I paid attention to the bumpers on the cars around me during my drive to work yesterday. I saw a few Georgia Bulldog magnets and some of those black-and-white international ovals with abbreviations of vacation spots but precious little else. As contentious as the midterm elections were, you'd think there'd be more bumper exposition.

Then I asked my daughter, Rachel, for her opinion on the topic and she made a good point. Virtual bumper stickers are available on Facebook. You can choose from hundreds, many of them animated. You can post them to your page and change them without having to round up a razor blade and WD-40.

If you have an opinion, observation or bee in your bonnet, you can blog, tweet, e-mail or post all the live-long day. Maybe bumper stickers are becoming as obsolete as eight-track tape players.

That's unfortunate. It's going to make for an awfully boring drive to Grandma's house.

Teressa Glazer is a Gainesville businesswoman. Her column appears biweekly on Fridays and on gainesvilletimes.com.

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