When I was eleven, so was my bike. No, my bike was not eleven years old, but I was. My bike was probably only one-year-old but it was number eleven. It was number eleven because I put a sticker on each side of the crossbar that said so. Back then I loved stickers. Have you ever seen those cars that have so many stickers on the rear-glass that you can hardly see inside? No, that is not how my car looks, but if I had owned a car when I was eleven, it might have. I loved cars back then, but I didn’t own one. I dreamed of owning one, but I had to settle for model cars and a bicycle. Most model cars came with a sheet of decals and stickers. Sometimes I stuck them on my models, and sometimes I stuck them on my bike. One time I stuck one on the family car. Dad didn’t have the same affection or appreciation for stickers that I did. He and I reached an understanding which may be why my rear car-glass today is not covered with stickers.

Paul, my friend’s younger brother, and his dad reached an understanding about stickers too. I think I liked mine and Dad’s discussion better than Paul liked the one he had with his dad. While most of my stickers came from model car kits, occasionally I visited our local NAPA parts-store for some “real” stickers. Another friend’s dad owned that store and would give us stickers. He had cool ones like “Hooker-Headers,” “Holley Carbs,” “Edelbrock,” and my favorite “Thrush Mufflers,” with the red-headed woodpecker. The parts store also had all sizes of those oval-shaped STP stickers. They were red with white letters outlined in blue. That may be where Richard Petty got his STP stickers for his number 43 race cars. I know that’s where Paul got his STP sticker for his dad’s car. That thing must have been three feet long. It covered the entire driver’s side door. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, Paul only had one, so he couldn’t put a matching sticker on his mom’s side. Do you realize how hard those things are to get off without peeling off the paint? Mr. Petty would have been proud, but Paul’s dad was not. He called a board meeting with Paul.

The stickers on our vehicles tell others quite a bit about us. Some put stick figures on the glass to tell how many family members they have. Some even include their pets. Some stickers tell others what states or sites we’ve visited. There are the ever popular sport’s team stickers. In Alabama most of these are crimson and white, or orange and blue. Some stickers inform others who we voted for, or did not vote for. Some are used to boast about our child being an honor student. My vehicle has three stickers on it. One is on the paint and was put there by the dealership. Two are on the rear glass. One says, “I love fourth days,” which is a reference to Emmaus Walks. The other one says AAA, whom I will call if I have a flat tire or a dead battery. I guess I need that one to help me remember who to call. That and the fact that I didn’t have a Thrush Woodpecker sticker! I heard about one guy who had a sticker that said, “Honk, if you love Jesus.” One day, when someone followed his instructions by honking, he obviously had forgotten that his sticker had told him to do so. Our stickers indeed do tell others what is important to us. If our actions don’t match, we might need to take them off, or watch ourselves more carefully.

— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal weekend edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.

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