GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. – When New Jersey governor Jon Corzine was bouncing around inside his official SUV about six o’clock last Thursday night, like a rag doll in a Kenmore dryer, he couldn’t know that the site of his accident, Mile Marker 43.5 on the Garden State Parkway, would become the latest shrine erected by Mothers Against Sad Highway and Utility Pole Shrines (MASHUPS).
“Like most people hospitalized from motor vehicle accidents, the governor will live to ride, if not drive, another day,” said Kimmie Bright, secretary of the burgeoning MASHUPS movement, as she visited mile marker 43.5 to add some faux sunflowers to the memorial there.
“People need to know that a motor vehicle accident is not a death sentence,” continued Ms. Bright, “but that’s not the message conveyed by your basic floral-cross-and-teddy-bear arrangements alongside most roads.”
According to Ms. Bright, MASHUPS was formed in 2002 after a White Plains, New York, teenager had lost both legs and had been paralyzed from the waist down in a flaming crash following her senior prom.
“Granted that child will never dance or have normal sexual relations again,” said Ms. Bright, “but considering the alternative—five other kids died in that accident—what does she really have to be a gloomy gus about? Those other kids can’t even have oral sex.”
That can-do attitude gave Kimmie Bright an idea: why not commemorate the forgotten survivors of motor vehicle disasters? Armed with that idea, two buckets of gaily colored plastic flowers, a Vermont Teddy Bear, and a sign that declared “Get Well Soon,” she drove to the scene of the crash.
“I set up my arrangement on the side of the road opposite the other kids’ memorials,” she recalled, “but when I went back to check on it a few days later, somebody had violated the teddy bear anally, and there were death threats pinned to the get-well-soon banner.”
Undeterred, “I understand that people don’t always think straight when they’re sad,” Ms. Bright went to a local newspaper with her story. For some reason the photo of the Vermont Teddy Bear-on-a-stick hit a nerve. Soon Ms. Bright was hearing from parents, friends, and relatives of other motor vehicle crash survivors who wanted their stories told.
As a result there are now MASHUPS chapters in twenty-five states. As for Kimmie Bright, she looks forward to a happier day, “. . . when travelers, or people just out for a ride on a Sunday afternoon, don’t have to be brought down by memorials that put a Mr. Frowny Face on our nation’s highways.”
In related news, President George W. Bush has agreed to meet with a delegation from MASHUPS to discuss legislation that would make the defacement of any roadside monument a federal crime.
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