Whether you call ’em license plates or tags, if you drive a motor vehicle pretty much anywhere in the world, you’re familiar with those metal devices that serve to identify your particular ride with a unique combination of letters and/or numbers.
It’s a peculiarity of my memory that I can recall the numbers on my parents’ license tags from fifty years ago... and yet if you asked me what the tag number is on the Elissonmobile, I’d be hard-pressed to provide an answer without digging out my registration papers or looking at the back of my car. Weird, huh?
When it comes to getting license tag numbers for our cars, we’ve always accepted the random results of our trips to the county tag office. But most jurisdictions allow you to get creative... for a modest extra fee.
I speak, of course, of Vanity Tags - custom-selected license tag numbers that are used my many people to express their individuality or convey a message. And since your message is limited to a very small set of alphanumeric characters - a 140-character tweet on Twitter is War and Peace by comparison - you have to be creative. Paging Uncle Rebus!
If you’re a tennis player, you might consider buying a tag that says 10SNE1. For a urologist, how about PPDOC? And there’s the somewhat tautological LICNSPL8.
We knew someone in Houston who had a plate that read GHOTI. It’s an artificial word that illustrates English phonics: Pronounce the GH as in tough, the O as in women, and the TI as in nation, and you have... fish!
Lately, we’ve noticed quite a few interesting vanity tags around town. Here’s a sampling:
I’m guessing this guy likes his Scotch whisky. Your average chocolate maltoholic doesn’t like to advertise.
This tag was attached to a sunny yellow Volkswagen Beetle. Too fucking happy for my taste.
We caught this tag while in the Virginia Highland district of Atlanta, many of the denizens of which would indeed be perfectly happy living in San Francisco. (I’ve ruled out the possibility that this tag refers to both oxygen and the Burlington Northern - Santa Fe railroad as too much of a stretch.)
The thought of a “Gator Nation” might horrify some folks... but this was simply a University of Florida supporter captured in his native Gainesville.
Anyone who has spent as much of his career in sales will appreciate this tag. But for the spelling, it could also have been a slap at the mechanical reliability of the vehicle to which it is attached.
What vanity tags have you seen lately? And are you vain enough to have a set of your own?