You Stole My Non-Jesus Fish!

’Round here we drive our vehicles ’til they’re dead.

By “’round here,” I mostly mean in my immediate family here in Fargo, N.D. While “until death do us part” applies to more than simple matrimony, extending into vehicles for which I’m responsible, it’s not necessarily the prevalent personal-transport philosophy.

Nevertheless, so shall it be with my 2006 Toyota Sienna minivan.

With the kids mostly grown, all that’s left are memories, dents, rust, a cracked windshield, nonoperational air conditioning… “the whole shootin’ match” as we say ’round here, which in this case means “lots and lots of people in North Dakota.”

Combine that with my being an unabashed rabble-rouser with a self-imposed obligation to express the progressive perspective, and it’s clear a side benefit is I can put as many stickers on that trusty ’ol van as I want and it won’t matter. I’m never going to try to sell it and, therefore, have no need to worry about a potential buyer taking offense at one or more of the stickers. Not that anyone would ever think to buy it, but that’s beside the point.

I get to offend others in a truly North Dakotan passive-aggressive manner, instead. After all, North Dakota is nothing if not passive-aggressive. Generally speaking, of course.

In fact, from where I’m standing it’s one of the most closed-minded, conservative, Bible-bangin’, exclusionary, gun-totin’, nice-fakin’, redneck, right-wing, Stepford-wifelike locales* in all of creation (if you go in for that sort of thing).

“White-trashiest” should probably be in there, too, seeing as ’round here we drive our vehicles ’til they’re dead.

Regardless, this place is a bit short on tolerance, commonplace bangin’ of Bibles notwithstanding. Passive-aggressive nonacceptance is more the norm, and sometimes it’s just plain ol’ aggressive, as recent anti-LGBTQ+ laws and book-banning efforts plainly demonstrate.

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Black Out All Perceived Evil

Just last week I pulled into the parking lot of a building where I had a meeting scheduled. There was a guy hanging outside, sucking down a cancer stick before heading into the building.

“That’s a lotta stickers,” he observed.

“Yeah…” I said. “Guess I’ve got a lot to say.”

“Well, then,” he responded, “I won’t go any closer to read any of ’em. That way we can still be friends.”

There’s just no comeback for that kind of passive-agressivity.

Yet someone’s been getting close enough for triggering. Mad enough, in fact, to Sharpie over my Dudeism Fish.

Jesus-fish-type sticker representing the Dudeism nonreligion.

Yep, someone harboring some serious hostility toward people who think differently than they, and likely a heap of religious fervor to boot, took the time to blot out the entire sticker in broad daylight, potential witnesses and vandalism charges be damned.

I should be thankful they didn’t break the window instead. Still, walking out and seeing that? It was my own little Jesus-fish moment –

Yet, This Dude Abides

You’ve probably heard of The Dude, a.k.a. Jeffrey Lebowski, a.k.a., Jeff Bridges in “The Big Lebowski.” In the unlikely event you haven’t, here’s the best introduction west of the Pecos, by The Stranger, a.k.a., Sam Elliott.

Say what you want, but The Dude, and by extension the Dudeism non-religion, provides an anti-ideal that for some people can be an ideal way of life. Take it easy, don’t sweat the small stuff, focus on what’s important, think positive, live and let live, leave it to the universe… that sort of thing. In short, Dudeism amounts to a do-unto-others vibe and existence some of us can seriously get behind. Dig?

Some embrace it to the point where they become ordained Dudeist ministers. Like me.

Graphic - Ordained Dudeist Priest

So what if it only cost me $10 on the modern equivalent of an advertisement in the back of a Rolling Stone. Still valid. Plus, a quick call to the Cass County, N.D., government offices made clear that my Dudeism ordination means I can legally perform weddings, so long as I’m also ordained by American Marriage Ministries (AMM). Which is free online. So now I am. Ordained by AMM, that is.

American Marriage Ministries (AMM) logo

The county representative told me the AMM, Universal Life Church and a few others are on a list of ordination organizations recognized by the N.D. Secretary of State.

Why one national ordination organization makes the list while another doesn’t is a mystery, so don’t ask. We’re surrounded by mysteries, after all; open your goddamned mind!

Anyway. Yeah. Seriously.

I can now legally perform marriage ceremonies, not just in this state but across the USA. Given that, it’s perfectly logical for me to display a Dudeism sticker on the back of my wan van. Right? Not to mention that the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives me the legal right to do so.

Color Me a Vexed – Hexed? – Minister

Let’s just say that, unfortunately, there’s a reason “accepting” is not one of the aforementioned adjectives describing North Dakota and North Dakotans in general. To be fair, there are pockets of individuals and a few small groups that defy the intolerant norm ’round here, but for the most part….

As The Stranger once told The Dude, “Sometimes you eat the b’ar (bear) and sometimes… the b’ar, well, he eats you.”

In this case, the b’ar blacks out your non-christian, non-Jesus, non-religious fish.

My only hope is that whoever did the Sharpieing did not go so far as to put some kind of hex on me or my van. The Dude’s favorite band might sing, “I put a spell on you / because you’re mine,” but I’ll be damned if I’ll subject myself to some Sharpie fiend’s twisted whims. Short of that, no worries.

Besides. I had another Dudeism sticker on hand. Two more, in fact.

Two Dudeism stickers on the back of the author's minivan

Which is to say that, ’round here or anywhere else, I will live, let live and maintain an ample supply of passive-aggressive stickers for my moribund minivan.

This Dude does, indeed, abide.

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Martin C. Fredricks IV

Martin C. “Red” Fredricks IV here. I’m husband to an amazing woman who is also my best friend, dad to three outstanding kids, Fargoan (North Dakota, that is), proud introvert, veteran messaging strategist/copywriter, blogger ( nonprofit founder ( and big-time reader. As they say, if you're gonna write good stuff, you have to read good stuff. A ginger, too - ergo the "Red" - although some of it's going white. Cinnamon-Sugar, I call it. Tattooed to boot; seven so far. At age 54, I'm stilling crankin' AC/DC & Metallica, but now and again I spin some Eric Church and Black Uhuru, too. I love hanging out with my (much) better half, spending time with our kids, writing, hiking, riding my mountain bike and reading.


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