Like most states, North Carolina raises revenue by allowing people to purchase vanity license plates for their cars.  Unlike bumper stickers, which allow a car owner freedom to express an idea (possession of an honor student, an emotional attachment to a particular breed of dog, a political view held during some previous election cycle, etc.), vanity plates allow more extroverted automobiles an opportunity to stand apart from their peers.  (Disclaimer: I drive a gray sedan.  This is the soulless corporate drone of automotive expression.)

The problem is that a vanity plate only has room for 8 characters.  Admittedly, when your only forms of communication are honking and breaking down, this is a downright verbose medium for idea exchange.  But still, with only 8 letters to work with, there is a premium on being both pithy and precise.

I bring this up because, as I was driving home this evening, I was in traffic behind a particularly gregarious Mercedes-Benz, proudly stating for all the world to see that it was, in its own “words”, a


I’m pretty sure I know what the Mercedes was going for, but the whole way home, all I kept thinking was, “What a stylish fly larva!  I’ll bet you can attract more women with that vanity plate than with honey or vinegar!”