O Beanie, Where Art Thou?

Yesterday as I was sitting in my car waiting for a traffic light to turn green, I casually looked up at the car in front of me and noticed the strangest bumper sticker. It said, “I brake for Beanie Babies.” What made this bold claim seem even more curious was that on the other side of the car was a sticker that said, “Proud member of the NRA.” This sticker-laden bumper was attached to a black Ford pickup truck, which I suppose must come in handy for loading up all those Beanie Babies. And, of course, the guns.
This unique combination of pastimes made me wonder, though: does the driver brake for Beanie Babies so he can buy them, or blow them to pieces with his 12-gauge shotgun? Because if it’s the latter, I may be tempted to follow this truck around for a few days in hopes of seeing him use a stuffed turtle for skeet practice. It would at least help solve the mystery that’s been plaguing me for years: are they really filled with beans, or is that yet another bait-and-switch marketing ploy?
But really, exactly what neighborhoods are these folks driving through where they tend to run across Beanie Babies along the side of the road?
“I brake for garage sales” – sure, who doesn’t?
“I brake for pedestrians” – hey, it’s the law!
But, “I brake for Beanie Babies?” Does that really come up all that often?
I just imagine myself, driving along with some friends, chomping down some french fries and absentmindedly flipping the radio stations when someone in the passenger seat screams: “OHMIGOD STOPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!! Jesus, Jenny! Pay attention to the road, would you? You almost ran over that Thimbles the Bunny, circa 2001! Oh, I think I almost peed myself!”
Personally, I’ve never been too fond of bumper stickers. They’re kind of like tattoos, in my opinion – sometimes I think they look cool on other people, but I can’t imagine finding anything I’d really want to permanently decorate my body with, or my car for that matter.
A friend of mine who also hates bumper stickers always says that there are enough reasons for crazy people to want to run you off the road without advertising a few more on your car. Who knows – your Grateful Dead bumper sticker just might be the trigger that sets off a road rage spree that runs six cars into a ditch. Is declaring to the world your appreciation for some hippie band really worth taking that risk? I think not.
Even I must admit, though, that whenever I see a bumper sticker on a car, I feel compelled to pull up next to the car to see who is driving. Just out of idle curiosity, I guess. I mean, what does the parent of a Shorewood High School Honor Student actually look like? Well, what do you know? She looks proud. Real proud. Just like it says on her bumper sticker.
And what does someone whose “other car is a Rolls-Royce” look like? Surprisingly, not at all like someone who owns a $300,000 car. And if their other car is a Rolls-Royce, why the heck are they still driving around in that rusted out 1986 Renault Encore? It just doesn’t make sense to… oh wait a minute! I totally just got the joke! Ohmigod, that’s hilarious! The irony!
Whew. That one really got me.
But back to the Beanie Baby lover. I had to know – what does a card carrying NRA member/Beanie Baby enthusiast look like? All I could see was the top of his head. Heck – maybe that’s a woman. Hard to tell from this angle.
So I followed the truck for a few more blocks, racing to catch up with him. He was dodging through traffic, possibly on a quest for more Beanie Babies. Or more assault rifles. I had to know which one.
But alas, the elusive Beanie Baby collector would escape me. For now. But I’m still on his trail. I must know who this enigmatic soul is. What makes him tick? How many Beanies does he own? Does he think they’ll bring Kingly the Lion out of retirement? Has he ever met Charlton Heston? Maybe I’m making this out to be far more interesting than it really is. Maybe guns and stuffed animals aren’t all that strange a combination. Maybe this creature I’m hunting isn’t all that rare.
Well, only time will tell. In the meantime, I have returned to that intersection and placed a 1999 mint condition Porridge the Bear on the ground, poised seductively under a trap I made out of an old refrigerator box, a stick, and some string. Now, the hunter becomes the hunted.
We’ll see who brakes for Beanie Babies. We’ll just see.

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