Are you a member of a secret society of some sort? Ever since I moved to Tennessee nine years ago, those are the sorts of questions people ask me when the notice a medium sized symbol on the back windshield of my car. I get the same questions when I travel to places like Alabama, Missouri, Florida or the like (so it is not just a question Southerns ask). This is the emblem that raises all the questions:
In the past two years the questions have become even more frequent because now I have two of these symbols, this orange one and a blue one. The people who ask me usually say that they have noticed these on many cars and trucks and were wondering if it was the sign of a cult or some sort of secret society like the Masons or the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
I usually ask if they have noticed than when they see folks with this decoration in their back window (the palmetto tree and crescent not the Elk lodge) that the people look unusually attractive, intelligent, thoughtful, kind and friendly. Sometimes people respond by saying: “No, I really didn’t notice that but I really was only next to them at a light for just a few seconds”. Other times, however, people will respond by saying: “Now that you mention it that is true. When I notice people with that insignia on their car and I have a chance to speak to them I notice they area almost always friendly. Then seem to be the ones who let others into traffic when traffic is hard and I have even noticed them feeding parking meters for people whose meters have expired.”
When this happens I usually ask them if they have ever
noticed a car with one of “our pink insignias” on it and I ask them if they noticed that the women with these emblems on their cars are particularly attractive, unusually beautiful. Almost always, both men and women, will comment on the extraordinary beauty of women and any children riding in cars driven by women with this pink symbol on the back window. Well I told him that we were pretty careful about those women who were allowed to be part of this particular society. After all they were known as “…. girls, best in the world”.
One of my friends at this point said that he saw one, one time that looked like it was a cross between these symbols and a Confederate Battle Flag and that it was in the back of a pickup truck with a gun rack and that the driver was throwing beer cans out the window the whole time he was behind in on Highway 96 from Franklin to Murfreesboro. Well I looked at him a bit sheepishly and said that that was likely true and even with the toughest of screenings sometimes a bad egg got in – or out.
Well when folks ask me these question I tell them that it is really a family thing, it is a group that you are born into, you might say it is the group that chooses you, you don’t choose it unless at some point in your life you make the decision to give up on your old life and are willing to relocate to a new place. Then you might be able to display one of these after 5 or 6 or maybe 10 years. In fact I know this PCA pastor from Philadelphia who now pastors in Alabama who says that the years he was allowed to be part of this particular fraternal order were some of the best of his life and he has lived all around the world. I had a college roommate who renounced his former way of life of 18 years just to be able to display such an emblem in the back windshield of his car.
So about all I can tell these folks (most of whom I can tell really, really wish they could be part of this remarkable group) is that it is all a question of geography.