I’m embarrassed at how bossy my car’s bumper stickers are. For years I’ve been nagging fellow travelers to “Eat More Kale” and “Think Good Thoughts.” Who do I think I am? As if that wasn’t intrusive enough, when we moved to New York this summer, I had to do the ridiculous thing of getting a license plate that demands: WAVE2ME. The dark blue writing on a pumpkin orange background could hardly shout any louder.
The thing is that I hardly ever drive this car. It spends nearly all of its time in the parking lot, just waiting, its little WAVE2ME eager but invisible. It’s like when I was in kindergarten and I told my mom, somewhat forlornly, that Mrs. Egan hadn’t ever picked me to take the wagon down to the cafeteria to bring the milk for snacktime. Next time Mom came to the school, she asked Mrs. Egan about it. Mom had to have done this in an extremely gentle way; she was courageous, but very, very gentle with her delivery. Not so Mrs. Egan, who said, in an almost mocking tone, “She’s never raised her hand!” This is the teacher, I will say here so that it is on the record, who called me stupid and who was big on mocking tones in general.
I’d never raised my hand, but I’d sat up straight, day after day, eyes bright, looking as eager as I possibly could. “Pick me!” my whole body was saying. And she never freaking did.
But beastly Mrs. Egan aside, there’s a little bit of the same thing going on with the license plate waiting in the parking lot — can you see?
In the interest of research: We’re holding steady at 4 sets of waves elicited. Only guys have followed my license plate’s directive so far. A carload of young men, possibly in altered states of mind, waved at me on the New Jersey Turnpike. A moment later, likely inspired by the many-armed Jeep that had just gone by, another guy gave a little toot and waved as he passed. Then there was the older man getting out of his pickup at Home Depot, and last week, the guy smoking a cigarette on the stone wall near my parked car. The pedestrians felt a need to explain. “I’m waving to you,” they’ve both said, though not with a lot of élan. I’m told guys have a hard time expressing élan, which must suck.