“I want to put up a sign,” I told my husband. “An Obama sign in our front yard. Is that OK with you?”
That was fair enough, I figured. After all, nothing says “community property” like a front yard.
“I’m not a sign person,” my husband said.
I’d heard this (many times) before. He’s also not a bumper-sticker person (even though he once slapped an “Okra! All right!” bumper sticker on the rear fender of his last car to indicate his wholehearted support of a certain slimy Southern vegetable). Not a T-shirt-with-a-message person, either, although he occasionally wears tacky Hawaiian shirts and if those aren’t messages, what are they? A Rorschach test for bad taste?
“I don’t have to proclaim my identity,” my husband said.
Well, those are pretty serious and sanctimonious words coming from somebody who drives a Prius, for God’s sake. What is a Prius, if it isn’t a message that’s a little bigger than a bumper sticker and a whole lot more expensive? Is there anybody out there who drives a Prius who isn’t trying to deliver a message?
I pointed out this inconsistency. I think this is very helpful for a spouse — you know, honest feedback.
“Remember when I suggested you get a hybrid Camry?” I reminded him. “You said no. You wanted to make a statement with a Prius.”
“I wish you didn’t remember so many things,” he said.
“I want a yard sign,” I said. “Otherwise, people might think we’re Republicans.”
“OK, OK,” he said. “Get a yard sign.”
The next day, a friend delivered our new blue-and-white Obama sign for the front yard. I rammed its legs into the hard ground, which is surrounded by dead grass and unraked leaves.
That’s when I realized something. Even if people didn’t see the yard sign or my husband’s Prius, they’d still realize we weren’t Republicans.
No dead grass, unraked leaves or rock-hard ground on Republican lawns. They’ve always managed to keep up appearances better than we have.
The truth is, even — or especially — when you do nothing, you’re always sending out messages of some kind or another. I called our cat, Lefty, inside and closed the door behind us.
Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker