License to Whine

August 4, 2011


It was the day of my appointment to visit the CA DMV. We had moved back to California, after
being in racist redneck hell for year. I swore I wouldn’t complain about the west coast anymore-
with its streets that end and start again one block over or its people who talk like valley girls.

This time, I thought, I’d do it right, armed with my near decade of experience in LA and a year
away to reflect upon it.  Feeling like a kid with bad skin on yearbook day, I readied my hair and
applied some Shine Free powder to my face. I was going to have a good looking driver’s license,

When I got up, I checked the Yahoo news online as I do every morning. An article said that people with negative initials die earlier than those without, 4.5 years earlier. The journalist gave examples: I.L.L., D.E.D..  Here’s a quote from the story: “D.U.D.’s live nearly three years less”.(

Thank goodness I made an appointment at the DMV. Armed with my folder of papers, I was second in the appointments line. After filling out my paperwork and getting my number, I watched everyone else with their crying babies and listened in on people at windows tell stories of their multiple arrests. Yep, these were my fellow motorists.  I was called up in all of about three minutes.

The gal at Window 1 was pleasant, a grandmotherly type almost. I told her my last DMV appointment took five hours and that this was heaven in comparison. I also told her I was moving back. With this, I was waived from taking an eye test and written test since my old California license wasn’t going to expire for another four years, but no new photo. They had my old one on file and would print my new license with new address with it. I don’t remember being at all fond of my old picture.

Then I had to go back outside, get my car verified- to make sure I wasn’t trying to register some other vehicle. Done and done- passed with flying colors, even though my driver’s side mirror was set back into place with putty.  As I was told, I came back to Window 1.  My new plates were handed to me. 6SAD_ _ _. SAD? really? This was at the Lincoln Heights DMV branch- East Los. So, naturally my mind tangented off to Sad Girl from the Allison Anders film Mi Vida Loca from 1993. Her description is “she’s too happy to be sad”.

I obsessed over getting a plate that said SAD all day. I noticed other cars had 5RAD_ _ _. Even 6BAD wouldn’t have been that well, bad *cue George Thoroughgood or Michael Jackson here. I noticed really nice cars with license plate holders saying things like Beverly Hills Mercedes had plates starting with 6KEY_ _ _ and 6FLO_ _ _.  (*new conspiracy theory). It wasn’t until I was on the 2 North that I saw a man driving a dark blue Prius with the plate 6NUB_ _ _. That made me feel a little bit better.

All day, I scanned plates 6FOX_ _ _. Why couldn’t I have gotten something that fun? Other 3 letter combinations I saw- LEG, CIN, HIS on a car decked out in Jesus gear, VIS, DUH, but alas, no other SADs. I figured I could just go ahead and subtract those 4.5 years off my life.

I’m waiting for the day I spot another 6SAD blank, blank, blank. We’ll signal, maybe grimace at each other, maybe pull over and lament over this shared fate, probably not as drivers are impersonal as fuck in LA.

I figured SAD stood for Santa Ana dog. Yes, that’s it. It’s a Santa Ana dog mobile. In about a month’s time, we’re moving from our sweet lil Frogtown temporary rental on a lesbian motorcycle shop compound to the artsy fartsy downtown Santa Ana, a.k.a. The Downtown of Orange County with its Grand Central Art Center, Watermark Print Shop that does Mark Ryden and Shag’s stuff and the bevy of coffeeshops, etc.. that follow that sort of thing.

SAD. Then I saw a car that got 6MAD_ _ _. At least I didn’t get that. Who controls the California license plate lettering? I bet they get a good laugh at their handy work, probably more laughs than most Hollywood comedy screenwriters get now-a-days.



Just learned there’s going to be reality tv show about CA DMV. Producers- please find out who does the license plates. ha