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Vanity License Plates: Why?

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I don’t wear monogrammed jewelry or t-shirts that say, “I’m with stupid” so it’s not surprising that I’ve letters and numbers issued me by the DMV even if means shrugging with some degree of embarrassment when a parking attendant asks, “What’s the plate number?” Three years is too short a time for me to memorize all that. The plate I should get would rightly say, “Don’t ask.”

9.3 million Americans have vanity license plates with the highest percentage (16 percent) in Virginia, most likely because they’re only $10 and arrangements can be made online. This must be sending shivers of alarm through the state’s tattoo parlors as a change of heart allows a guy to go from “Stacy” back to “Mama” without having a laser applied to his skin. I wonder how many relationships have stayed together because of a tattoo.

Personalized plates are an industry with states hiring individuals to screen for profanity and objectionable messages, in English and other languages. There’s a website—CoolPl8z.com—where people post pictures of their vanity plates. None were as amusing as “HIS DO,” affixed to her new sports car by a recently divorced woman in Los Angeles.

In New York we have our own system. If there’s something we want to communicate to another driver, we holler it out the window, often accompanied by a gesture. We choose to comment on the other guy.

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