It isn't until we arrive in Montreal with the van I've borrowed from my brother that I notice the bumper sticker. "Support Our Troops," it shouts on the back of the vehicle.
Funny how you can worry about what total strangers think of you. My first impulse is to look back on our drive to see if I can remember weird people giving us the thumbs-up and cool-looking highwaygoers giving us dirty looks.
Then I wonder what's happened to my brother, the peace-loving hippie doctor? I mean, he has a lot of compassion, but since when does he choose our armed forces as the group he wants to support so publicly?And the bumper sticker doesn't fit the profile of my anti-violence sister-in-law either. I'm not exactly looking forward to the conversation we're going to have.
It's my partner, Leslie's, brilliant idea to try to peel the damn thing off. It's only then that we discover it's an oversized fridge magnet, easily removable, that someone has stuck on the back of the van. "Oh, right," I think. "It probably happened at the rest stop near the armed forces base near Kingston."
But my relief is tempered with outrage. Where does anyone get the right to vandalize my stuff in order to make their political point? I really don't care if emotions were running especially high among armed forces supporters on the weekend of the inauguration of the so-called Highway Of Heroes.
True, it could have been worse. Given the gross excesses of the anti-choice movement, it could have been some hideous pro-life magnet. Or, god knows, a "Marriage is for a man and a woman" kind of message.
As far as I can see, there's no movement to start slapping people's cars with someone else's political message of choice. In fact, as I write this, I worry about giving the wrong people a bright idea.
But I'm experiencing a vague feeling of having been violated. I'm calling the experience being bumperfucked.
I wouldn't have had the same reaction if someone had slapped a magnet on the van saying, "This thing pukes poison into the air." That's a true statement, and so what if that eco-activist couldn't give me an alternative mode for getting my kid and all her stuff to university?
But I'm with our mayor in believing that a sign that says Support Our Troops comes too close to expressing support for Canada's mission in Afghanistan. I wish someone would create a bumper sticker that expresses all my nuanced feelings about the members of our armed forces, how I appreciate their desire to make a social contribution, how I sympathize with their pain when a soldier dies in battle, how I wish they were shovelling snow in Canada instead of eating sand in Afghanistan .
In the meantime, whoever you are, hands off my car.