Thursday, May 16, 2013

Confession #8: Maybe It's Time to Take Up Birdwatching

After writing about the abundance of boy-related vanity plates around town (see my previous blog entry on "5BOYS"), I thought it would be fun to visually document the phenomena.  I spend a lot of idle time in parking lots anyway, waiting to pick up the boys from school and extracurricular activities.  I figured I could use that time patrolling for license plates, and it might make for an interesting hobby.

"That's not a hobby," my husband shook his head, when I told him what I was up to.   

"How is it any different from, say, birdwatching?" I asked.  "Apparently some people spend entire weekends looking for rare birds."

"Birdwatching is a legitimate sport," he answered.  "Well, I guess it's not a sport.  But there are official field guides on birds."

"Well, this is my version of birdwatching," I retorted.  "So can you canvass your side of town when you're at work, and I'll cover the suburbs?"

"No," he replied.  "I'm not going to take pictures of license plates for you.  That's just odd. And a complete waste of time."

"You wouldn't even have to get out of the car," I replied.  "You could just whip out your iPhone if you happened to spot one at a red light.  How difficult would that be?"

He grimaced and shook his head again.  "You are so weird.  Did I mention this sounds like a huge waste of time?"

Having hit a dead end with him, I decided to solicit help from my next of kin: my sister.  A few days later, she sent me a photo of "3SONSMOM."  Her picture was just the motivation I needed.  I figured I'd see how many license plates I could capture on film in a week.   

On Monday, I snapped a photo of "TWO BOYZ" in the school parking lot.  This was kind of a freebie because I see the black SUV bearing this plate almost every day in the pickup line.  A few months ago, I met the mom who owns this plate at a birthday party.  I think I awkwardly blurted out something like, "So you're TWO BOYZ!" when we were introduced.  As if I need another reason to be a nerd.

Here's another "BOYZ" plate I snapped after soccer practice.  I'm guessing it belongs to a family named Butler.

I see "2GR8BOYS" around town a lot.  Incidentally, I also spotted "3GR8SONZ" at a traffic light but wasn't quick enough to capture a photo of it.  It has become by great white whale.

This one took me a little while to figure out, but I finally concluded that "DBOYZ NI" is license plate slang for "The Boys and I."  

Continuing on the same theme... I snapped a photo of "DA3BOYZ" at a red light some time later.  

Here's another one my sister sent me.  She captured  this "MOM4BOYS" plate at night.
Another SUV with 4 boys... I wanted to roll down my window and call out "me too!" when I saw "MY4SONS" at an intersection.

I saw this car on a rainy night, and loved the not-so-obvious, slightly geeky way of describing three boys!

This quality of this photo is pretty poor, but I like the message on this plate: "BOYS RUL".  Yes, they do!

Sadly, the quality of this photo is terrible.  Blame it on the fact that I had four boys in the car throwing Cheetos at each other while I made the discovery at a red light.  I'm guessing the plate either belongs to a mom with three boys, or the baby of the family got a car for his birthday and his mom picked out the vanity plate.

In the course of one week, I spotted "4ARROWS" three times.  This is probably a reference to Psalm 127:4, which refers to children as arrows in the hands of a warrior.  Older translations of the Bible use the word "sons" instead of the gender-neutral "children", so at first I thought the plate belonged to a fellow mom of four boys.  But the second time I saw the minivan, I noticed a stick figure family on the rear windshield.  I realized that said arrows were in fact three sons who enjoy basketball, weightlifting and soccer... and finally a daughter who dances ballet.  So technically, this one doesn't really belong in my collection... but I like it nonetheless.

And then there was "3FELAS&I".  I passed this plate at a stoplight and assumed it had something to do with cats.  Unfortunately, after the light turned green, I realized it was Southern license plate slang for "Three Fellows and I".  Alas, I circled back in hopes of finding the sedan bearing this plate, but it was gone. 

On Friday night, I thought I spotted "3BOYSMOM" on a Toyota Sienna ahead of us.  I let out a giddy scream, startling my husband who was driving.  Energized by the good fortune, I frantically gesticulated to catch up to the black minivan in the right lane.  He obliged, muttering, "I can't believe I'm doing this for you."  I unrolled the window and held out my camera like a seasoned member of the paparazzi. After scrutinizing the photos, however, I realized that the plate actually read "3BY30MOM"... probably belonging instead to a woman who had three kids by the time she was 30 years old.

And alas, my final sighting, "MI3SUNZ", was likely a legitimate boy-related plate, but it was too dark that night for me to capture a good photo as evidence.  

During my little enterprise, I was surprised that I never encountered any license plates referencing daughters.  The scarcity of girl-related license plates started to bother me.  I began coming up with my own theories.  Perhaps there is a some kind of misogynistic conspiracy in the DMV.  Or maybe mothers of girls are more creative and therefore come up with vanity plates that don't state the obvious.  I asked a few moms their opinion on this question.  They all gave me variations of the same answer: "Girls are easy.  Raising boys is a tough, thankless job.  If you're a mom of a boy, you might as well come up with your own badge of honor, even if it's just a license plate." 

On that note, my own vanity plate finally came in the mail.  It might be the last plate I add to my collection, because as much as I hate to admit it to my husband, it might be time to resign this fake hobby of mine.  Summer's almost here, and there will be plenty of easier ways to waste time.  I might even try birdwatching.