Posted by: robinsonwarner | March 9, 2009

Shotgun Swagger

There are few things in this life that are ironclad and not open for negotiation: gravity, the U.S. Constitution, the superiority of burritos, and, most importantly, calling shotgun.  When a human being calls shotgun there is a chemical reaction in their brain that makes them so incredibly satisfied that there is a noticeable additional swagger in the step of said individual immediately following a successful shotgun call.  Shotgun Swagger, as it is technically called, results from the very real knowledge that with shotgun comes great responsibility.  Once you have shotgun locked down.  You are somebody.  Somebody with more legroom, but its so much more.

Odd numbers are always challenging to human beings because our natural propensity is to couple; both sexually and platonically.  Two people works swimmingly, but as the saying goes, three is often a crowd.  Driving in a car is no different.  This is why, with three people going into the car with two passengers, shotgun is so incredibly important.  Getting shotgun in this situation instantly promotes you to the trusty, literal, right hand man to the incredibly important captain of the vessel.  People remember Batman and Robin, Captain Hook and Smee, or Han Solo and Chewbacca, but no one remembers Batgirl, the guy who got put in the Boo Box in Hook, or this guy.  With shotgun, you are the trustworthy partner known for your navigational prowess and willingness to make fun of the person in the backseat ruthlessly while the captain focuses on driving.  Because seriously, that guy in the backseat is a  joke.  The person in the backseat is taken about as seriously as the guy who you give O’Douls then pretends to act drunk or the guy who actually thinks that a 3% hike on income tax breaches the threshold into a socialist state.   Marco Polo and Batman could be in the backseat giving you suggestions for a speedier way to get taquitos and you would ask God to give them the bubonic plague just to keep them from speaking.

It is for this reason that the term “backseat driver” is coined.  “Backseat” in this context is synonymous with “kid in your first grade classroom who thought dinosaurs and cavemen lived at the same time.” 

If you really had any knowledge you would have squired shotgun for yourself.  There is of course no phrase about “shotgun driver” or “passenger seat driver” because all advice and suggestions regarding the ultimate destination of the vehicle are taken seriously.  For example,  if a chihuahua runs out into the road and the driver accidentally hits it, the person riding shotgun will hopfully suggest to immediately stop the car, put it in the reverse and run over it a couple more times to make sure its dead.  Because no one likes chihuahuas. 

On a sidenote, why are all chihuahuas when they are anthorpomorphized in movies depicted as being Mexican.  I understand the breed originated in Mexico, but chihuahuas are born in the United States every day.  They don’t all have accents and have a penchant for lowriders (I’m talking to you Oliver and Company).    This would be like having all cheeseburgers talking in American accents.  That would just be ridiculous.  Everyone knows cheeseburgers are born all across the globe every day and grow up to speak a variety of languages while contributing much to their local culture.  Some people are so ignorant.

In addition to being navigator and trusty sidekick, upon claiming shotgun people know that they become the DJ for the vehicle.  As DJ,  their mixes, and their mixes alone, can keep the morale of the car at the maximum output for the five minute drive to pick up beer.  If the wrong mood is struck by a song, even for an instant, the whole operation is in jeopardy.  All people think they are capable of avoiding this gaff, but as things often go, usually there is some  person operating under the grand delusion that a solid song to follow “Still D.R.E.” is “Like a Prayer” by Madonna.  Foolish.  You always follow “Still D.R.E.” with “Bawitdaba” by Kid Rock.  Everyone knows this.   Read a book.

And finally, the most important role of the person riding shotgun is that you are the last defense between getting “L” and needing “D”.  If you don’t know what those letters mean, the first is a popular television show involving a mysterious island and the second one is what my life is lacking at the moment.  Avoiding L and D is very important for men because this would involve us admitting we are wrong.  It is critical that the person riding shotgun avoid this anomaly at all costs especially if there are other females in the car.  And if the person riding shotgun is female with a male driver then you might as well just come to terms with the fact that you’re on your own and you’ll be listening to the soundtrack from Rent for the duration of the trip.  If there are two females in the car, and if Thelma and Louise has taught me anything its that women are incapable of driving without careening into the Grand Canyon.

To close, the importance of calling shotgun is really just a microcosm of what life is.  If the car trip is our life and we all have the same final destination, then it is patently human to wish to enrich the trip with music, conversation, and the best way to get there.  If we accept all of this, then to call shotgun defines what it means to be human:  to influence and enrich a trip we will be making even if the destination always seems a little too close.


  1. In our family, we make the person riding ‘shotgun’ get out and open the garage door for us. hee.

  2. The boo box in Hook scared the SHIT out of me when I was younger. I thought that was the pinnacle of evil and the worst possible form of torture.

    I was such a little bitch.

  3. when i typed the words “boo box” i actually peed my pants

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