Bragging your identity through the rear view mirror

by Al Carlos Hernandez on April 5, 2012 in Cultura

Many drivers feel compelled to hang eclectic things from their rear view mirrors as a personal statement of identity, like a moniker or family crest. They painstakingly choose a little symbol that transforms their mass-produced faceless production vehicle into an expression of self.

In any discussion of how Latinos choose to label themselves, maybe researchers should check out someone’s ride before they fill out a questionnaire.

Back in the day and several years before my time, it was vogue to hang fuzzy dice from your rear view mirror, indicating you considered yourself a wild rebellious playboy gambler and wanted everyone to know.

We now call that type of behavior “fronting.” I had an uncle who was a fuzzy dice aficionado; my dad wasn’t much for it because we didn’t have a car, and he did not want to carry a portable set of dice for the bus driver’s temporary use.

My mom’s chronic and customarily-broke cousin couldn’t afford store-bought fuzzy dice so he crafted his own pair out of wood. He then went out and got arrested for drunk driving while unconscious.

The charges were later dismissed when they realized that he wasn’t drunk, just really stupid and there are still no laws against driving stupid. That is why politicians, famous actors, pop stars and other maliciously ambivalent people hire normal folks to drive them around.

I notice that some Latinos like to hang small flags of their country from super-sized rear-view mirrors. They seem to have an obsessive concern about who is following them.

There is a disproportionate amount Nicaragua flags, some Salvadoran, and a few Puerto Rican ones. Mexicans seem to favor rude-yet-justified anti-migra stickers to demonstrate motherland affiliation. I have no problem with family flying their colors; I considered tossing up a Raider Nation one myself.

Flying a flag of another country might be redundant if the car you are driving in has home-made tinted windows, rides too high or too low, and if there are 19 people in a two-door blasting banda music, or a Pit Bull CD.

I don’t like anything hanging from anywhere, I consider it a distraction, and my attention span is already too short. What if I had a crystal prism hanging there and it accidentally hypnotized me into becoming a radio talk show host or something?

Studies indicate that the smarter you are, the more likely driving will bore you to sleep behind the wheel. I have never had that problem.

Some people hang things that unknowingly bait cops into pulling them over and shaking them down, like mota air fresheners. Doesn’t it occur to Cheech and Chong motorists that if they didn’t get baked in the car they wouldn’t need a freshener in the first place?

I have seen everything from garters, puka shells, rosaries, baby shoes, head bands, backstage passes, astrological signs…all kinds of wack-job bangles that dangle. This proves one thing; I am not paying attention to my driving, and it could be boring for me after all.

I have never seen a rear view mirror flag of Canada. Maybe that is why Canuckian illegal immigrants are so hard to catch.

Fuzzy dice photo by Trekphiler.


Slowjoe April 5, 2012 at 11:18 AM

The tradition may very well have originated in the cockpits of WW1&2 airplanes, tanks and trucks when GI’s would hang pictures of their family and girlfriend on some protruding knob. I imagine they transferred these goodies to their ranflas once back in the real world. We continue to live out this tradition but sometime as you eloquently state, too exuberantly. My dad had a pair of my little baby shoes bronzed and hung precariously from the mirror of his ’51 Ford. I, in turn have a dark hideous shrunken head, ‘hishe’ beads and a scapular hanging from mine…and a Raider stick in the back window.

Al Carlos Hernandez April 5, 2012 at 2:20 PM


I’m thinking based on the dashboard, its a 55 or 56 Impala. What do think? Abrazos…

DoubleG April 5, 2012 at 3:17 PM

I’m partial to modifying my car for racing purposes. Wheels, low profile tires, big loud muffler, and lots of stickers. For each sticker I gain at least 5 horsepower; without my Ruca or baby seat in the car, I’m .5 seconds faster down the I-5 quarter mile.

Oh, and the M3 body kit help keep my Honda Civic planted to the ground during those midnight high speed runs to the Valley. #ChicanoNascarFTW!

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