Communique: Commentator Nan Graham | Signs & Such

Jun 22, 2018

They are everywhere … Buy This! See That! We're bombarded with signs, but we often miss some of the most interesting ones, according to commentator Nan Graham.

I was in line behind a young gentleman waiting in some cafeteria line and I stared as the cliché. It is what it is, the Tattoo said, permanently inked at the base of his skull. Actually, it was just above the neck on a large bald head. The man barely had a neck at all, but the tattoo artists managed to get the large, heavy gothic script just above the fold, as they say in the newspaper.

The message opened up to a multitude of interpretations. Was it an existential code, some metaphysical reference? An explanation of the hairless dome? Was it just a repeat of the favorite buzzword for the past year or so? It is what it is. My question is, what is “it”?

I questioned the tattooee’s decision to wear the cliche on his head … 24/7 … forever. Permanently. I also wondered  to have the giant gothic letters would fare after middle age and gravity sank in … and the next generation, possibly his own grandchildren, would puzzle over the meaning of this once common thing. Oh, well. It is what it is.

The graphics are everywhere, not just on bodies as the canvas. Sighted in Elizabethtown, a funeral home billboard: "Our undertaker, the last man to let you down."

Sadly, only one interpretation was possible for the next message. The young couple in an open yellow jeep headed out to the beach, the jeep without its cover on a beaueoust day. On the front windshield, toward the top was the motto de jour. Large exuberant letters on the front windshield proclaim, "Take off your top." Must be college kids, I decided as they blew by me. The double entendre message certainly could not be directed to the majority of the middle aged and elderly among us,  as we doggedly plotted our heavyset way through the traffic in our stodgy Hondas and Volvos. I have only one thing to say to the instigator of this flip windshield message:  Be careful of what you wish for out there. The startling visual of some of us naked old timers could be hazardous to your driving.

Closer to home, the message on the back of the SUV stopped at the light ahead made me choke up a bit for a moment. I'm the type who's nose runs and eyes tear up when they play the Star Spangled Banner at ballgames. It might've been because of my years as the wife of a career Marine. Or it might be that I believed words on the car to be profoundly true. It read: Land of the free because of the brave.

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Nan Graham is starting her 24th year as a WHQR Commentator and shows no sign of slowing down.  Commentaries do not necessarily reflect the views of whq. Our public media, it's editorial board or its members.