Remember when it was cool to put stuffed animals in the back window of your car? Oh, that’s right, it was never cool. Remember when it was “in” to put Garfield on your rear windows with little suction cups so he looked like he was smushed there? Right before “Baby on Board” signs with suction cups?
Well, today I was stuck in a traffic jam (a diary-worthy event in my little rural world) behind a woman in a Ford who had one of those Garfields lying prone on his back in her back window. He was so faded that I’m guessing he’d been there for decades because those Garfields started out technicolor orange.
Now, I was a fan of Garfield in the 80s, but I don’t feel a particular need to defend him or his brand today. But leaving a poor helpless stuffed animal, particularly one made to be upright, so vulnerable and clearly unloved on his back in the rear window with dead bugs and other detritus, faded into dry rot, is just not right.
So I started wondering (remember I’m stuck in traffic) what this woman driving the car is like. My first inclination was to dislike her because seeing that animal in the window reminded me of a old frenemy from high school who filled her rear window with Pound Puppies (another blast from the old toy chest past). I never got that. You rescued them from the pound only to imprison them in your rear window? What does that do for you? For the drivers behind you? Is it supposed to tell us how cutesy you are? That you love dogs? Stuffed animals? That you’re sadistic putting them there under that great magnifier of heat and sun? And she was a cheerleader. Yuck. Note to self: Ask husband if ex-wife put stuffed dogs in her window while in high school. Hypothesis: Yes, at least four.
Then I thought maybe I was being too harsh. Maybe that poor Garfield was attached to her window back when she was a young mom and one day, after knocking if off the window for the umpteenth time while putting Junior in her carseat, she threw it into the rear window in frustration and now does nothing but gaze wistfully ahead of her, hoping for some new road to open up to get her out of the doldrums of her now-past-middle-aged life.
Or maybe this car was a handmedown and Garfield came with it and it’s so gross, dry-rotted with those little gnatty bugs and some slightly larger winged dudes embedded in its faded fur, that she can’t bring herself to touch it and the vacuum at the car wash doesn’t suck hard enough to allow her to pick it up and toss it in their trash can.
Or maybe Garfield was never on the back window, but was suctioned to the rear window and he, on his own initiative, unstuck his suction cups in an attempt to commit hari kari, but, because he was unable to swivel his head, he fell to the soft carpet of the rear window rather than to the hard asphalt that he expected to be below his back, as that’s all he could see in front of him.
Just when I was beginning to feel really depressed about the motivation of 1) Garfield and 2) the driver, traffic began to move again, she turned right and I turned left and I was able to move onto happier whimsy, like why my Diet Coke from the McDonald’s drive-thru always has pop under lip of the lid, which quietly drips on my clothes and rats me out for having gone through the drive-thru on my way home, again.
Ah, the big questions of life that keep me awake at night.