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Issue Date: August 2005 Issue


You're So Vain

Seems to us there's been a spike in the number of drivers dolling out cash for vanity license tags. We ponder some of the PL8S we've seen recently on local roadways.
Jim Vickers
vickers@clevelandmagazine.com

The highway is filled with mile after mile of unoriginality. The same streetlights, dotted lines, mile markers and exit signs — over and over again, all the way to your destination. The same goes for the cars. You pass silver Honda Civics and black Volkswagen Jettas only to find more silver Honda Civics and black Volkswagen Jettas a few miles down the road. It's only the license plate that truly separates one vehicle from the next. And lately those traditionally cryptic markings have been replaced with a growing number of vanity plates. The only problem is, the message isn't always so clear.

WACH ME
Black Hyundai Accent
Literal Translation: "Watch Me" — Keep an eye on this car. We get it.
What We Think it Means: The car's owner is the second person in Ohio who wants to tell the world: "Watch Me." The first guy actually got the plate declaring, "WATCH ME."

I SPL GUD
Silver Oldsmobile Alero
Literal Translation: "I Spell Good" — An apparent stab at humor by proclaiming exceptional spelling skills using grossly misspelled words.
What We Think it Means: "My mother is an English teacher and I'm trying to drive her crazy." But to the rest of the world, it's just not that funny.

HLO NWMN
Black Mini-Cooper Convertible
Literal Translation: "Hello, Neuman" — Anyone who owned a television during the '90s should recognize the catch phrase Jerry Seinfeld used to greet his letter-carrying nemesis, Neuman.
What We Think it Means: "I watch too much TBS between 6 and 7 p.m. weekdays."

IMAGINS
Black Mazda RX-8
Literal Translation: "Imagine" or "I Am a Genius" — Either a nod to Beatle John Lennon's famous solo ballad or a really unclear way to brag about your high IQ.
What We Think it Means: "I'm a big John Lennon fan, but not a big enough fan to be the guy who got the 'IMAGINE' plate." or "I'm very intelligent, but not clever enough to find a more succinct way to advertise my smarts with just seven letters/numbers."

BRONCO
Blue-and-White Ford Bronco
Literal Translation: "Bronco" — Obviously, a confirmation to all other motorists that "yes, indeed, the vehicle you're following is a Ford Bronco."
What We Think it Means: "Despite my disposable income, I have a very limited imagination."

BEACH B
Tan Oldsmobile Royale:
Literal Translation: "Beach Bum" or "Beach Boys"
What We Think it Means: Somebody else had claimed "BEACH BUM." Yes, in Ohio. Besides, "BCH BOYZ" would be the logical tribute to the "California Girls" creators.

NO TOP ON
Silver Volkswagen Beetle
Literal Translation: "No Top On" — Though an immediate attention-getting plate, the excitement is quickly dispelled when you see that the tags are attached to the bumper of a convertible.
What We Think it Means: "I want you to look at this car." With a plate like that, we're guessing about half the people who see it look inside to see if the driver is topless. No, he's not.

ZPLN 2
White Plymouth Neon
Literal Translation: "Zeppelin 2"
What We Think it Means: Either "ZPLN 1" is sitting in the driveway at home or the plate is a proclamation that Led Zeppelin II is the '70s rock group's best album. It is by far, so we're going with choice B.

U LIKEY
Deep Orange Chevrolet Cavalier
Literal Translation: "You Likey?"
What We Think it Means: The driver is one of the few people who saw former Conan O'Brien sidekick Andy Richter's terrible 2004 sitcom "Quintuplets." The series' "You Likey?" catch phrase isn't funny and neither is the fact someone bought a vanity plate asking it. No, no, we don't likey at all.


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