A Full (Vanity) Plate




One man's quest for more letters on "licnses."Have you ever noticed that New Hampshire seems to lead the free world in witty vanity license plates?Everywherae you drive these days there are plates proudly proclaiming the vehicle's owner is a "SocrMom," "Soxfan1" or "happy23." (Which makes me wonder, what happens when "happy23" turns into "sad43"?)According to some in-depth Google research, done just now, New Hampshire comes in second to the state of Virginia (or "Commonwealth of Virginia" as that gentleman with the Colonel Sanders hat at the souvenir stand just outside Charlottesville on Rte. 95 will tell you) with about 14 percent (the actual percentage is 13.99, so if you are considering a personalized plate, you can help us Hampers reach that next level) of our cars and trucks having this version of "minimalist poetry" displayed prominently in the front and rear of our vehicles.Second? The only thing that eased the pain of second place was the fact that the state of Texas ranks dead last in this category. They may lead the world in large toast, swagger and Chuck Norris, but they've got nothing on New Hampshire when it comes to being vain in seven characters or less. And speaking of seven characters or less, it turns out that in Virginia you're allowed eight characters on your license plate. So this affords them millions more potential combinations than we in New Hampshire can conjure up. (I didn't do the math here; feel free to e-mail me the exact numbers if you are that sort of person.)OK, after a bit more "extensive" research it turns out that this is not exactly true. Virginia allows 7.5 characters on a vanity plate, so the math will change a bit for all you left-brainers out there.This brings us to the registering of my minivan. I was going to my town office to register my newly purchased minivan and I had the perfect license plate all picked out.Now the purchasing of one's first minivan merits an article all on its own, but we'll leave that for another time. (I have an idea for an off-season activity for our local NASCAR beacon, Loudon Speedway, and it can be summed up with the phrase "The Great Minivan Races.")It turns out that my desired plate, MIGRANTS (in honor of the band, My Migrant Soul, that my lovely wife and I started a few years ago, available for weddings and bar mitzvahs) was one letter too long, and there in line I had to make a switch on the spot and I panicked. (You can't rush these things.)So I went with MIGRNTS. This led to an endless joke from our soundman, Steve. "Does that stand for "Me Grunts? What, are you having a hard time on the potty?"Now, a few years later, "MIGRNTS" is still causing head scratching as we roll down the backroads on tour.Which leads to my proposal (are you listening, folks at the state DMV office?) - let's add one more letter.Adding just one little character can put us at the top of the heap and give our governor bragging rights at the next governor's meeting, and also drum up a little needed revenue in the process.And then there is the "twitter plate" idea that I have, where you can post your most profound thoughts on your plate in 140 characters or less.I'm still working on this one. NH

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