Have you noticed that the craze today is to reveal as much about ourselves as possible without uttering a word? Before a person even says hello, we have knowledge of his inner-most feelings and beliefs. How? All we have to do is look at his car, wrist, chest, head or derrière to instantly gain insight into who he is.
Take bumper stickers. They exhibit how we feel about a myriad of things. Want to know someone's political preference? Want to show disrespect for the opposite political point of view? Want to chew out tailgaters, brag about your finer points, flaunt your religion, quote God, let the world know whether you're pro-life or pro-choice, reveal how you feel about your spouse, your mother in-law, lawyers, the IRS, the war or sex? Plaster a bunch of bumper stickers on your car and we'll have an instant understanding of who you are.
We can even publicize whether we're straight or gay, depending on which ear we wear our earring.
Who would have guessed that the billed cap fad also tells us something about a person? Surely you've noticed the foam-filled trucker's hat that many of our young hipsters wear today. There was a time when only real truckers wore them; truckers who hailed from the Carolinas, wore plaid flannel shirts, drove semis and chewed tobacco. But now it seems that these caps are donned by virtually everyone who longs for attention, has a need to fit in, or thinks they're cool. They can be worn in a number of ways: with the bill in front, to the side, or in the back. They're even worn inside out. Each way indicates something different and reinforces who you are trying to be.
A whole industry exists that specifically designs one-of-a-kind hats decorated with ribbon, airbrushing or cross stitching, which is easily created in the existing front mesh. Just make sure you don't wear your hat pushed far back on top of your head and tilted to one side. According to one self-proclaimed Greenwich Village fashion guru, wearing it that way signals to the world that you are a "dork."
And we all know about words on T-shirts; funny, patriotic and offensive slogans and words that reveal more than we ever wanted or needed to know about a person. It appears that no topic is too sacred to display proudly, and no words are filthy enough to avoid sharing with unsuspecting eyes -- words that cause a grandmother to stammer and blush when her grandchild points and asks, "What's that mean, grandma?"
Reading rear ends is a popular fad. Brief one, two or three word phrases are sprawled across the seat of jeans, shorts and sweat pants and are worn primarily by teenage girls. No matter how endearing the words are, seeing them spread across the behind of some young girl tells me far more about the girl than the words do. But, perhaps I'm just jealous knowing that one or two words would get lost on my behind and a full paragraph might fill the space better.
You can know what crusade someone supports by the color of his rubber wrist bracelet. It started with pink rubber bands that exhibited support for breast cancer research. Now there's navy blue rubber bracelets with colorful puzzle shapes for autism awareness. And, how about red bracelets for AIDS awareness and orange ones for persons with disabilities, and Lance Armstrong yellow cancer bracelet? There's a different color each for Alzheimer's, ovarian cervical cancer, muscular dystrophy, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and I could go on and on.
As I said, we can learn a great deal about people without them ever opening their mouths. With that in mind, while visiting my 10 year-old grandson, I was favorably impressed when I noticed he was wearing a light blue rubber bracelet.
"I'm so proud of you, Dylon," I said. "What cause are you supporting?"
With head raised high, he proudly answered, "The Yankees."