Jumping onto the “guest poster” bandwagon, we have my Patient Husband.
For the last two years, I’ve had a personalized plate that reads “SHADOWFAX”. Okay, not quite, but it was a fairly recognizable seven-letter compression of the name. I liked it because Shadowfax is the horse Gandalf rides in The Lord of the Rings. THe name means “grey-coat,” and the car is a silver-grey color. Also the car is a hybrid, and Shadowfax had endurance far beyond ordinary horses.
It’s not the best Tolkien-themed license plate I’ve ever seen, but it made me smile to think that most people behind me were rolling their eyes and thinking “What a geek.”
[In case you’re curious, the best Tolkien-themed plate I’ve ever seen was one that said NOROLIM. I only saw it for an instant, because the car it was on was weaving through traffic at high speed on a six-lane divided highway. At first I didn’t even recognize what it was, but then I remembered that “Noro lim” is how Glorfindel tells his horse at the Ford to flee from the Black Riders — “Ride on, ride on!” What a great use of the seven-letter limit. I imagine most people have no idea what it means.]
In the new state where Angelborough is, plates are six letters long. There are really only a few reasonable compressions of Shadowfax to six letters, and they’re taken. Combined with the bureaucratic overhead of the DMV, the end result is that the car formerly known as Shadowfax, the magic horse, is now a meaningless six-character combination of letters and numbers.
It makes me a little sad when I see it. The car is still the same car; it still handles well and gets great mileage, and I still have the plate in the wall on the garage. There are plenty of identifying pieces of flair on the car that make it easily recognizable. But it feels like the new state took away a little piece of my individuality.
On the bright side, it’s much less likely that my brother will yell “Run, Shadowfax! Show us the meaning of speed!” next time he gets into the car.