Saturday, August 2, 2008

Entertained By Vanity Plates


The state of Virginia is replete with vanity plates. Why? For one thing, they only cost $10. And in my area, with everyone driving the same four cars (minivan, Suburban, Lexus SUV, or Volvo wagon) we’re all striving for some way to stand out.

I’m being serious about that. I once exited the grocery store in search of my white Ford minivan and couldn’t see it amid the rest of the minivans. Only the little skull I’d stuck on the antennae helped me to recall which row I’d parked in. That piece of flare, along with a rear window covered by Sheriff’s Department, State Police, and State Trooper Beneficiary Fund Supporter stickers, allowed me to finally dump an armload of cat food and diapers into my van and not the identical van parked in the neighboring space.

At the time, my vanity plate read LV2EBAY. I used to sell folk art paintings on eBay, but hadn’t changed my plate since I gave up that low-paying career because I couldn’t think of a replacement. A few months ago, I ordered a plate reading PB WRTR, assuming everyone would understand that meant paperback writer. I was wrong. People asked me if I was a pub writer, a published writer, or a Panera Bread writer (which makes sense since I write from one of their cafes five out of seven days). Still, it annoyed me that my plate was a failure, so I changed it again to MYS WRTR. Should be obvious right? MYS is the library abbreviation for mystery, but I’ve gotten plenty of interesting interpretations about my new plate as well.

I’m the type of person that pays attention to vanity plates. I know all the specialized plates in my neighborhood and could tell you where WINEAUX the Merlot drinker lives, where SCALPD the Redkins fan goes to the gym, and where 22BUSY drops her kids off at school. When you drive to the same locations every day like I do, you tend to notice vanity plates.

I’ve also noticed that a lot of Richmonders have plates paying homage to their favorite scriptures. For fun, I’ve been keeping a record of these and have already looked up over a dozen biblical passages. Some of them are very profound, but others have my scratching my head as to why they merit a spot on the back of the car.

If you’ve got a vanity plate, tell us what it says or what your ideal one would say. If you’ve seen any funny ones, share those too.

(Incidentally, I tried to convince my anesthesiologist hubby that he should get DR SLPY or N2BATE on his plate but he told me vanity plates were for pansies).