Saturday, March 04, 2006

Plate Puzzles

Ed says the older he gets, the more cynical he gets. As for me, I'm getting more easily frustrated by simple, quite stupid things.

One thing that seems to tick me off is trying to decipher confusing vanity license plates. Now I have a personalized plate, myself. I thought long and hard about the meaning of my choice, which ended up being C-HARP. It stands for Celtic harp as opposed to a pedal harp. I realize, of course, that very few people will be able to interpret the "C" for "Celtic." That's OK, and I accept that. The HARP, part, though, is plainly understood. Apparently I play the harp. Some people at first glance thought it said, "C-SHARP," which, of course, is just misreading.

Since I also play piano and organ, as well as transcribe, I initially considered using something akin to KEYBOARD, but that's one too many letters. It would have to be KEBOARD, or KEYBORD, both which would undoubtedly have been understood, but my refusal to have an actual misspelled word on my license plate ruled those one out. Too bad; I thought it was a clever idea.

I also considered something to do with quilts, but a quick check of the State of Maine database showed me the good ones were taken. I'm wasn't going the KWILT route, either.

Ed's license plate is HEALING. People assume he's a doctor, but that's what you get when you make assumptions. He has preached on how the root of "salvation" is "salve," which brings up the healing component. So he uses it spiritually, not physically. At least it's a valid word and spelled correctly.

This morning on our trip to Bangor, I noticed a personalized plate and I could not make out for the life of me what it meant. I can't even remember it exactly so I can include it here, but believe me, I spent a good 10 minutes twisting those letters around to make some kind of sense. Nothing - I got absolutely nothing. That drove me crazy. Here it is 4:30 p.m. and I'm still fuming about it.

It seems to me, if you are going to create a personalized license plate to tell the world something about who you are, or what you do, or what your nickname is, or where you live, or what team you support - it ought to be easily understood. I suppose the owner of the aforementioned plate knew what those letters meant, but I don't think anybody else had a clue.

Ed's theory (cynical as always) is that some people actually pay extra for a vanity plate just so they can put something totally nonsensical on there to drive people like me insane as we try to figure it out.

Please think about this the next time you choose a personalized plate. If I see it and can't make heads or tails of it, you might just ruin an otherwise perfectly good day.


RJB said...

You don't want an "acual" misspelled word on your plate?

Carol Tiffin James said...

Don't ever underestimate the power of your mother to look like an idiot.

Joy said...

I just got my new license plate and a new combination of letters and numbers to learn. The older I get, the more I think I may eventually succumb to a vanity plate, just so I can remember my license.

I still remember Daddy's memory aid for one of our license plates years ago: "One dollar bill is worth 50 cents, and I have 7 weeks vacation this year."

It took me forever to figure out a way to remember my last license with this ditty: "Carol X-rayed a woman and found 2 16-year-olds inside." My new refrain is, "There are 88 keys on the piano and I play none of them well, especially when riding on a French railroad."

If I ever get a vanity plate, rest assured YOU'LL understand it. I wonder if "BUFFLE" is taken.

Bet On Me said...

I feel really sorry for you being frustrated by those cyphered messages. For being a collector of outstanding plate photos I am running into such puzzles every so often, and just can't get them.
For example, few days ago I talked to the guy, his plate is NOUNOURS which actually makes sense. It's a Quebec French slang word that stands for ''Teddy Bear''.

Check my collection at,
and feel free to submit your plate photos!