The Places Our Car Has Been

My husband and I tend to see eye to eye on the big issues that can make or break a marriage: politics, music, child-rearing, operating systems, sports teams. However, there is one area of dispute, religion and foreign films notwithstanding, that may yet prove to be our downfall: those ubiquitous oval stickers announcing in elitist acronyms the fabulous places we’ve vacationed.  You’ve seen them: OBX! KW! PEI! Aren’t we awesome and well-traveled! I, personally, find them tacky and inane. But my husband and kids love them and have plastered them all over the Thule carrier that rides atop our minivan.

I didn’t realize what I was up against until we returned from MV and ACK  (where, as  our car proudly proclaimed, we also visited SCNST) on Labor Day. Heading out to the grocery store, I noticed a new sticker on the back of the Thule: WT. It might as well have read WTF, because I had absolutely no idea what it was referring to. (The CHAPPY one, at least, made sense: we had weathered Hurricane Irene on Chappaquiddick.) “WT? West Tisbury!” my husband explained jubilantly, naming a Martha’s Vineyard town that I hadn’t even driven through during our week-long stay. It was as if the car and I had been on completely separate vacations.


I know my family sees the stickers as cheerful reminders of the places at least some of us have been. My husband has admitted, in fact, that my disdain is all the inspiration he needs to continue surreptitiously adding them. But I can’t stop viewing those ovals as badges of insecurity, transparent attempts to gain membership to an exclusive club—those who know that ADK means Adirondacks, for instance, or that HHI stands for Hilton Head. It’s really no one’s business whether we’ve been to THE BLACK CAT or THE BLACK DOG. And why would I want anyone to know I’ve visited B&J’s (that’s Ben & Jerry’s) in Vermont? They might accurately surmise that I was a willing participant in the consumption of a 20-scoop Vermonster sundae. It’s TMI, and no better than the bumper stickers that admit things like “This car climbed Mt. Washington” or–as the idiotic one I saw driving back from Hyannis over the weekend proclaimed–“I ♥ my selfish and ungrateful children.” Why would anyone be so proud of having selfish and ungrateful children that they would feel compelled to advertise it to irritated strangers sitting behind them in bumper-to-bumper holiday traffic?

The only sticker that I actually like is the one my friend Annie and my daughter sneaked onto our Thule as a joke once when I wasn’t looking: TLC, it reads, which practically no one will recognize as Tully Lake Campground, a beautifully rustic spot in central Massachusetts where we spent a few nights in a very proletariat tent.

I do not expect to win the sticker battle. Clearly, I’m outnumbered, and I certainly don’t care enough to tiptoe out after dark with a bottle of Goo Gone and start scraping away at VT and LP (Lake Placid). But I do wish my husband would get that damn Thule off the car already.

About Susan H. Greenberg

Susan H. Greenberg spent 22 years as a journalist for Newsweek Magazine. She now works as a writer, editor, teacher, and parent of three children, with whom she strives always to maintain a varnish-free relationship.
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9 Responses to The Places Our Car Has Been

  1. Bill Mcg. says:

    Hilarious. My wife hates the stickers too. All the more reason for me to stick her car.

  2. Linda Flanagan says:

    Sue, you are right on. I would make an exception for a “South of the Border” bumpersticker, however.

  3. Andi Pollinger says:

    I’m clearly one of the disenfranchised. Until today’s blog post I never knew what the heck those oval stickers were for. I was certain they were some local soccer team insignia or something since they’re on so many cars and always seem to have different initials. I don’t even know where you would pick up such a thing! Do they have one for Framingham or Rowley? I was there recently 🙂


  4. Jack Ruderman says:

    I’m with you. (though I have to confess that I once had one on my Prius that read “50 mpg.” )
    Was the tent you referred to by any chance a wedding present?

  5. Wendi says:

    I haven’t seen those around Austin too much, but now I really want one. Or two. Or at least one that says “WTF.”

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