Ryan's Bumper Sticker Poem (& David Shields essay)
by David Shields
First things first.
You're only young once, but you can be immature forever. I may grow old, but I'll never grow up. Too fast to live, too young to die. Life's a beach.
Not all men are fools; some are single. 100% Single. I'm not playing hard to get; I am hard to get. I love being exactly who I am.
Heaven doesn't want me and Hell's afraid I'll take over. I'm the person your mother warned you about. Ex-girlfriend in trunk. Don't laugh; your girlfriend might be in here.
Girls wanted, all positions, will train. Playgirl on board. Party girl on board. Sexy blonde on board. Not all dumbs are blonde. Never underestimate the power of redheads. Yes, I am a movie star. 2QT4U. A4NQT. No ugly chicks. No fat chicks. I may be fat, but you're ugly and I can diet. Nobody is ugly after 2 a.m.
Party on board. Mass confusion on board. I brake for bong water. Jerk off and smoke up. Elvis died for your sins. Screw guilt. I'm Elvis; kiss me.
Ten-and-a-half inches on board. Built to last. You can't take it with you, but I'll let you hold it for awhile.
Be kind to animals--kiss a rugby player. Ballroom dancers do it with rhythm. Railroaders love to couple up. Roofers are always on top. Pilots slip it in.
Love sucks and then you die. Gravity's a lie; life sucks. Life's a bitch; you marry one, then you die. Life's a bitch and so am I. Beyond bitch.
Down on your knees, bitch. Sex is only dirty when you do it right. Liquor up front--poker in the rear. Smile; it's the second best thing you can do with your lips. I haven't had sex for so long I forget who gets tied up. I'm looking for love but will settle for sex. Bad boys have bad toys. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but whips and chains excite me. Live fast; love hard; die with your mask on.
So many men, so little time. Expensive but worth it. If you're rich, I'm single. Richer is better. Shopaholic on board. Born to shop. I'd rather be shopping at Nordstrom. Born to be pampered. A woman's place is the mall. When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. Consume and die. He who dies with the most toys wins. She who dies with the most jewels wins. Die, yuppie scum.
This vehicle not purchased with drug money. Hugs are better than drugs.
You are loved.
Expectant mother on board. Baby on board. Family on board. I love my kids. Precious cargo on board. Are we having fun yet? Baby on fire. No child in car. Grandchild in back.
I fight poverty; I work. I owe, I owe, it's off to work I go. It sure makes the day long when you get to work on time. Money talks; mine only knows how to say goodbye. What do you mean I can't pay off my Visa with my Mastercard?
How's my driving? Call 1-800-545-8601. If this vehicle is being driven recklessly, please call 1-800-EAT-SHIT. Don't drink and drive—you might hit a bump and spill your drink.
My other car is a horse. Thoroughbreds always get there first. Horse lovers are stable people. My other car is a boat. My other car is a Rolls-Royce. My Mercedes is in the shop today. Unemployed? Hungry? Eat your foreign car. My other car is a 747. My ex-wife's car is a broom. My other car is a piece of shit, too. Do not wash--this car is undergoing a scientific dirt test. Don't laugh; it's paid for. If this car were a horse, I'd have to shoot it. If I go any faster, I'll burn out my hamsters. I may be slow, but I'm ahead of you. I also drive a Titleist. Pedal downhill.
Shit happens. I love your wife. Megashit happens. I'm single again. Wife and dog missing—reward for dog. The more people I meet, the more I like my cat. Nobody on board. Sober 'n' crazy. Do it sober. Drive smart; drive sober.
No more Mr. Nice Guy. Lost your cat? Try looking under my tires. I love my German shepherd. Never mind the dog—beware of owner. Don't fence me in. Don't tell me what kind of day to have. Don't tailgate or I'll flush. Eat shit and die. My kid beat up your honor student. Abort your inner child. I don't care who you are, what you're driving, who's on board, who you love, where you'd rather be, or what you'd rather be doing.
Not so close—I hardly know you. Watch my rear end, not hers. You hit it—you buy it. Hands off. No radio. No Condo/No MBA/No BMW. Don't steal; the government loves competition. You toucha my car—I breaka your face. Protected by Smith and Wesson. Warning: This car is protected by a large sheet of cardboard.
Luv2Hnt. Gun control is being able to hit your target. Hunters make better lovers—they go deeper into the bush—they shoot more often—and they eat what they shoot.
Yes, as a matter of fact, I do own the whole damn road. Get in, sit down, shut up, and hold on. I don't drive fast; I just fly low. If you don't like the way I drive, stay off the sidewalk. I'm polluting the atmosphere. Can't do 55.
I may be growing old, but I refuse to grow up. Get even: live long enough to become a problem to your kids. We're out spending our children's inheritance.
Life is pretty dry without a boat. I'd rather be sailing. A man's place is on his boat. Everyone must believe in something; I believe I'll go canoeing. Who cares!
Eat dessert first; life is uncertain. Why be normal?
Don't follow me; I'm lost, too. Wherever you are, be there. No matter where you go, there you are. Bloom where you are planted.
Easy does it. Keep it simple, stupid. I'm 4/Clean Air. Go fly a kite. No matter—never mind. UFOs are real. Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most. I brake for unicorns.
David Shields 1956–
American novelist, short story writer, and autobiographer.
The following entry presents an overview of Shields's life and career through 1996.
Shields is best known for fiction that focuses on the coming-of-age theme. In Dead Languages (1989), a young stutterer experiences the failure of language as a means of communicating with parents, first loves, and society at large. A Handbook for Drowning (1992) focuses on coming-of-age issues but presents them in a series of interconnected short stories around a central character. Shields's most recent work, the autobiographical Remote (1996), is an idiosyncratic study of pop culture.
Shields, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, received a bachelors degree from Brown University in 1978 and a masters degree from the University of Iowa in 1980, where he also began a teaching career. Later, while a researcher and writer for California governor Pat Brown, he published his first novel, Heroes (1984). Shields continues to write and teach at the University of Washington, Seattle.
In his first novel, Heroes, Shields writes about lost innocence and sports. Biederman, a middle-aged sportswriter for a small-town Iowa newspaper, meets Belvyn Menkus, a transfer student and basketball phenomenon. Aware that Menkus has been illegally recruited from an Iowa college, Biederman is torn between exposing the wrongdoing—and getting a post on a big-city newspaper—or turning away and sacrificing his journalistic dreams for the sake of Menkus and the game of basketball. Shields's next novel, Dead Languages, focuses on Jeremy Zorn and his family; the Zorn family and Jeremy's stuttering, in particular, mirror the author's real-life situation. As Jeremy struggles to overcome his disfluency and find his place in life, he must deal with his domineering, career-minded mother and his apathetic, manic-depressive father while teaching in a summer school program and managing a romance with a drug-addicted school drop-out. A Handbook for Drowning retains the coming-of-age theme in a random collection of short stories that provide a glimpse into young Walt Jaffe's life. Like Jeremy, Walt too must contend with a strong activist mother, an ineffectual father (who obsesses about the Ethel and Julius Rosenberg trial), the joys and sorrows of first love, and relationships won and lost. Remote is a loosely structured postmodern memoir about contemporary American life and culture that incorporates essays, photographs, footnotes, and remembrances. As one critic observes, Remote "channel-surfs" through modern society, with Shields offering his personal assessment of pop-culture topics including Oprah Winfrey, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, autographed baseball cards, and character actor Bob Balaban.
Shields's work has generally been favorably received by critics. Although most critics have focused on Shields's success at developing the coming-of-age theme in new and engaging ways, others have mentioned his lyrical and rhythmic language and taut, observant style. Shields's ability to present the ordinary events of life with wit and candor, such as Jeremy Zorn's stuttering attempts to educate children in Dead Languages, has also won praise. Critics have noted the postmodernist style and autobiographical characteristics of Shields's loosely structured A Handbook for Drowning and Remote's collage of autobiography, essay, footnotes, and photographs as well. While some critics have suggested that Shields's most recent works are uninspiring and lack originality, most agree that his literary style and creative use of language are substantial and contribute to the overall appeal of his books.