Growing up as a kid who loved cars, I have many memories of certain influential cars I used to see around in Greensboro, NC. There was the pristine beige '66 Beetle in my neighborhood, the MGA I saw on the way to fifth grade every day, and I think I knew where all two of Greensboro's Fiat Stradas were in the 1980s. But the one that's been on my mind recently is much stranger: a late '80s Ford Escort GT covered in anti-sodomy stickers.
I think I first started to see it around when I was in high school — it was usually far enough from my house that I had to have been driving on my own when I saw it. So this would be the late 1980s or very early 1990s, possibly. It wasn't a particularly remarkable car — a black, 1st-gen American Ford Escort GT, with the usual stock set of plastic spoilers and crap to try and tease you into thinking it could go that much faster than a normal Escort. What made this car notable was how it was specifically themed into becoming a rolling billboard preaching against the practice of penises and anuses coming into contact.
It was clearly planned. Hell, the owner even had a NC DOT-approved personalized license plate that read "NONDABUT," bravely sacrificing a few non-essential letters to get that message across in NC's eight-character limit. The rest of the car had carefully-placed decals and stickers that had two of those standard, neckless man-icon guys who normally get work modeling for DON'T WALK or PEDESTRIAN XING signs. Here one was standing erect (both ways, I presume) and the other was bent awkwardly at the waist in front, forming a 90° angle and, presumably, presenting his perfectly circular anus. The figures were intended to convey the act of anal intercourse, and they were circumscribed with the circle and slash of the international "NO" symbol.
That felt weird to explain in such detail, and I have no problem with people putting whatever junk they have in whatever orifices they like.
All the stickers, with the figures or not, bore the words "NO IN DA BUTT" and I swear every body panel of that poor Escort was covered with them. In the dark, backward period of time I saw the car, humans didn't have cameras on them at all times, so I had to make do with that drawing above. Now that I look at it, I realize I didn't put on nearly enough stickers.
The stickers were carefully positioned and placed, and I didn't get the sense this was a rush job in any way. The guy who owned this car — and it had to be a guy, as whatever chauvanisms or stereotypes I have in my head make it impossible for me to imagine a woman owning this car — took this very seriously, it would seem.
This car has morbidly fascinated me since I first saw it. Who was this guy? I mean, I get that people have their reasons for finding various sex acts morally repugnant or not, and that's absolutely their right, but this goes beyond the normal levels. See, this is tied up in the idea that your car is how you get presented to the greater world from distances or at speeds above walking — if you choose it. You can opt for a generic-looking car, and then you in your car just becomes part of the sea of silver Corollas and white SUVs. No one cares.
But if a person chooses a car that stands out in any way, either because of color, model, age, customizations, whatever — then that car becomes a default statement about the driver. It's a deliberate choice, and while the actual meaning isn't always clear, it's always there. I'm so personally associated with my daily driver, for example, I use that little 8-bit version of it as my icon here. And this guy with the Escort is defining himself by his car.
What I always wondered is how the hell do you live a normal life when your car is so fiercely dedicated to one particular issue? I always used to imagine what it must have been like for this guy to, say, give his boss a ride somewhere. I imagined the scene like this:
NONDABUTT GUY: The airport? Sure, no problem, my car's right outside.
BOSS: Great, thanks, [GUY'S NAME]. Let me grab my briefcase and I'll follow you out to your...
BOSS sees the ESCORT GT in the parking lot. There is a long pause.
BOSS: So. Um. Ah. Say, [GUY'S NAME], how do you feel about anal intercourse?
And what about going on dates? Wouldn't all conversation just record-scratch to a halt as this guy and his date approached the car? Or what about this guy's mom? Does he go visit his mom in this car, maybe pick her up and take her to lunch or the store or something? Is he okay with the idea that every time he walks to his car with his mom, at least for a second they're both thinking about erect penises and yielding anuses?
All this is what I'm thinking without even addressing the obvious homophobia of the car. It was 1980s North Carolina, and I think in general this guy likely didn't get too much blowback about that side of things. Which doesn't speak too well about NC culture in the late 1980s.
But in hindsight, this car just gets weirder and weirder. Really, I'm not sure someone who drives this car can have a normal life. If you do this to your car, that says to the world that this one issue is by far the most important thing in the world to me. If you're the guy who drives this, all of your bored-at-work fantasies have to be about you courageously keeping penises out of rectums, no matter the risk, to the adoration of the entire world. I'm sure in his mind, this Escort became a NOINDABUTTmobile, the insignia on the chestplate of his armored suit, his identity safely hidden as Nosodomyman, the anti-anal crusader.
I know this is a long shot, but this is the internet, so I may as well try: was there anyone else around Greensboro, NC in the late '80s who remembers this car? Let me know in the comments, please. I want to make sure it wasn't just some very puzzling mirage.