One of the things I noticed when I first moved up North (North obviously being the opposite of South), was that a significantly higher percentage of cars on the road had personalized license plates. It’s kind of brilliant I think — if the price of personalized plates is low enough to entice folks to participate, that’s money in the pocket of the DoT. It *also* helps out the local police. What was the number of the car that hit you/sped by at 90 mph/was being driven by a drunk llama? BGRKING is a lot easier to remember than YJC 2249. Personalized license plates tell you a little bit about the driver you’re sharing the road with (MIZTHNG), or give you something to ponder at stoplights (HIHOAG*).

I’ve thought about what I’d get on a personalized license plate like I think about the tattoo I’ll never get. Tops on the list is THIRD…but South of the Mason-Dixon line, it was a whole lot less Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and a whole lot more Dale Earnhardt. Besides, I kind of like the idea of being anonymous on the road singing showtunes…and in the parking lot with bags of all my Christmas shopping.

On the road trip to the coast this weekend, we passed an SUV with the license plate: MR B8R. I laughed and pointed and didn’t dive for my camera fast enough, so all I got was this fuzzy iPhone pic…but I promise, that’s what it said. Clever, right? The first thing one thinks is: Wow! How the heck did they get that through the License Plate Censor? That’s awesome!

And then the Reality Side of your Mini Wheat pipes up and says: Wow! What a freaking MORON. I mean…really? Are you going to lend your kid that car? Do you want that to be in your family photos, or on the CCTV when you speed through that next red light? Will you be able to apply for your parking pass with a straight face? And what do you tell the CEOs when you apply for the big job that comes with that assigned parking space? It’s something they’ll laugh about for five seconds…and then talk about at the water cooler forever. No matter how sweet your ride, no one is probably going to offer you up to take the Big Client out for drinks. Go ahead and offer to be the designated driver for a night out with the guys, ’cause you’re going to want to borrow your buddy’s Impala for your date with the hot chick that wrote on your napkin.

I wonder what was going through this guy’s head when he applied for the plate…and what goober at the DoT let it slip past. The possibilities are endless. But I can guarantee you the second he throws a Kleenex out the window, someobody’s mobile will have dialed the local PD.

Now I’m curious — what’s the most intriguing/interesting/idiotic personalized license plate you’ve seen?

(*Lone Ranger + periodic table of the elements: “Hi ho, silver”)