The other day I was thinking of a new way I might promote my book, Boot: A Sorta Novel of Vietnam. My youngest daughter, a self-proclaimed computer Guru, said, “Pop, you’re pretty damn good at marketing; about the only thing you haven’t tried is bumper stickers.” Bumper stickers, I am thinking to myself, they work pretty good for politicians and whales. So, my daughter and I set off to FayetteNam to one of those chain print stores to check out designing and printing bumper stickers. Normally, I’m much more frugal with my money, I still have the first dollar I ever made (a 1957 Silver Certificate signed by Priest and Anderson I earned mowing my neighbor’s yard with an old rotary mower), but my book is having a good year. I sold over a hundred books in 2021. Why, heck, that’s almost two books a month! My friends tell me it’s doing better than most self-published books, but it ain’t ever going to be a run-a-way best seller. Shoot, a young man could have a pretty good time with that kind of money.
So, we get to the print shop and start looking around. I see a bumper sticker that says, ‘Honk! if you love Jesus.’ Well, the old creative juices start flowing, and I’m thinking, that worked pretty good for Jesus; I hear people honking all the time, wonder how that would work for Boot. So, after some haggling with my daughter, the wordsmith, we finally decided on ‘Honk! If you’ve read Boot.’ I wanted it to say, ‘Honk if you love Boot.’ My daughter convinced me that it was more important to know who read it than who loved it. “Besides,” she said, “We don’t care if they love it, as long as they buy a copy. That’s the American Way, pop. The code of Sam Walton and Jeff Bezos.” So, this big ol’ smile of parental pride spreads itself across my face; I’m thinking, Dagnabbit, I have raised a genius daughter. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my wife about our brilliant daughter. So, after an acceptable amount of time haggling with the clerk over the colors and size, etc., we were ready to make our purchase.
“How many would you like?” The clerk asked. “We are running a special today if you order a hundred.”
“A hundred? I only own one car. Why would I want a hundred bumper stickers?”
I told him that the five dollars and twenty-six cents he was charging me for one bumper sticker was eating into my profits something fierce. He finally capitulated and allowed us to leave the store with one bumper sticker. “The gall of some people,” I said to my daughter, who was putting the bumper sticker on the back of our truck.
“He was just doing his job, pops. You need to relax.”
Dear Lord, I just love my genius daughter, every time I get up on my high horse, she knows just what to say to bring me back down to earth, I was thinking.
So, we pulled out of the parking lot into traffic, and we got our first honk! I looked in the rearview mirror to see who had read my book. It was a man in a John Deere ball cap holding up his middle finger. I asked my daughter what that meant.
As we pulled up to a stoplight, she said, “That is the digitus impudicus, I believe. It’s how folks in Boston talk to each other when they cannot be heard. It’s called, let your fingers do the talking. In Hawaii, it’s called the Good Luck Bird, so I suppose he is wishing you good luck on your book.” Did I tell you my daughter was a genius? Then we heard another honk, and another. My daughter said, “Maybe we should have waited to put it on, pops.”
“No, no, no!” I said. “This is great! I don’t think Jesus ever got this many honks.” I was living in the moment. I was exuberant and filled with ecstatic joy. I even honked a few times myself and waved the Good Luck Bird to everyone. Soon there were cars and trucks all around us, just honking and waving the sign of good luck to us.
A couple of people were so excited that they got out of their cars and started walking toward our truck. Probably to thank me for writing such an inspirational book. It was at this time that I noticed that the light had changed, so I left them with a final wave of the Good Luck Bird as we drove away, filled with love for my fellow humans! I just love folks who can articulate what they mean, whether they use words or symbols or sign language.