A Slice of Life

August 9, 2009

I write a column every few weeks for my local weekly newspaper called A Slice of Life.  I had done this from 2001 to 2006 but stopped when life just got too hectic.  With the editor’s encouragement I’m now back at it.  I’m not sure that life is less hectic now, but maybe my priorities have shifted.  My first  essay back was about  the garage rehab and since then many people have commented on my “green” garage — so apparently I am being read.  The garage essay is all the same stuff I noted here first, so it seems too redundant to post here.  But I thought some might enjoy reading A Slice of Life piece now and again, especially if they are vaguely green.  Here’s the one that appeared in a recent Delavan Times.

Automobiles: The New Refrigerators

I’ve always enjoyed reading cars with a variety of bumper sticker messages on them. Bumper stickers were pretty popular back in the 60’s and 70’s when the stickers served the dual purpose of spreading the word and holding the car together. It seemed to fall out of vogue though in the 80’s and cars have been relatively clean ever since. But this may change. As of late I’ve noticed the first real bumper sticker alternative – car magnets.

I’ve always had a fondness for magnets. Their natural attraction and repelling properties seem somewhat magical. And the refrigerator has always served as a blank sheet on which all sorts of magnets could be stuck. Every paper that I thought I might want to look at again in the next six months was stuck under a magnet on the refrigerator, usually for well past its useful timeframe. Artwork made by the younger family members was posted for all to see until the edges curled and a new masterpiece took its place. Magnets with phone numbers and addresses of businesses and organizations were planted about. When the kids were little they spelled out their meager vocabularies with the letter magnets that every family with a preschooler is obliged to own.

We had other fun magnets too. We had some gear magnets that combined and turned and were very educational, even for Mom. We had magnetized words that you could use to compose pithy little poems. We had a magnet of the statue of David and assorted magnetized outfits for him. Sometimes he was dressed for the beach, or like Elvis or even Santa for that holiday feel. It may have been disordered but our refrigerator was always interesting.

A few years ago we replaced the refrigerator with an energy star, stainless steel model. It’s energy efficient, you can get filtered water or ice without opening the door, and it’s pretty. But one little thing was a surprise; magnets do not stick to stainless steel refrigerators. The good side of this is that our kitchen looks less cluttered. I like the clean, sleek look of the silver front. But I do miss our magnets and really didn’t have another place to create a magnetic wonderland, until now.

Now with the creation of the car magnet I can use my automobile to display an increasing number of messages.

I first noticed the magnets during the Presidential election. There were the usual bumper stickers of course, but, surprisingly, I have a real aversion to putting stickers on my car. I think I was once told that bumper stickers reduce the resale value of a vehicle. That would suggest that I actually sell my own cars and do so while they still have any life left in them, neither of which is true. I do like to show my support for specific candidates though, so during political seasons I tape the bumper sticker of my favorite candidate to the inside of the back window. But toward the end of the campaign season last fall car magnets for candidates began to appear. I have one proudly displayed still, while the bumper sticker/window display curled up and came off months ago.

Some candidates for smaller elections also have magnets. These are no bigger than a business card and are probably meant for the refrigerator. But if they have a plastic coating on them they work great on the car too.

Politics is not the only reason for car magnets. At a festival in support of eco-consciousness I found an assortment of green-leaning magnets. I now have car magnets proclaiming that I am an Organic Mom, suggesting that the reader Imagine Green, and to remind people to Buy Locally. I’ve put them on my husband’s car too (well, not the Mom magnet). I’m not sure if he likes them or just tolerates them, but they are still there.

I think we are seeing the beginning of a new trend, and I intend to be trendy. My cars will be distinctive, that’s for sure, and they’ll provide people at intersections with valuable reading material. It will be like the 60’s all over again, but let’s hope the magnets won’t be holding the cars together this time.


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