(Warning: knowledge of a romance language necessary.) On most days, my commute between home and university is between 25 and 30 minutes. This is not bad at all for a major metro area. In the past few years, however, the traffic heading west at the end of the business day has grown worse, and I have found myself caught in “rush hour traffic” more and more. What has become particularly annoying is the over population of Lexus SUVs on US 50. For those not familiar with a Lexus SUV, they are large, invariably black, and have personalized plates. They are, in comparison to other vehicles, very (extremely) broad. There is no way to see around them; they take up more than their fair share of lane space. I have come to hate them.
More than a few times there have been three Lexus in front of me at a signal light—three large Lexus backsides. (What could possibly be the plural of Lexus? Lexi as in first declension masculine? Or Lexus as in fourth declension neuter. I’m going with neuter.) The only thing worse was the day when I had three Lexus in front of me and a Hummer on either side. It was like being in a canyon. My view: three personalized plates and two Hummer chrome gas caps.
In these situations, the only thing to do is exercise the mind and parse the personalized license plates. I have noted GOTBUCKS, MCHDLRS, WINNR, and other proclamations of economic success. As if I didn’t know the drivers were in a Lexus, there have been MOMSLXS, POPSLXS, and MYLXS (various spellings) plates denoting Lexus ownership. And I have seen a Lexus owner whose exultation knew no bounds: the plate simply said MNE MNE.
But there was a special Lexus day about five months ago. I caught sight of the first Lexus in the right lane just after exiting the parkway onto US 50. By Stringfellow Road, there were three Lexus in front of me by several car lengths. It was inevitable that at some signal, I would face, yet again, a Lexus phalanx. Nothing to do but figure out the plates. The Lexus in the left and middle lanes had rather common, "it's-all-about-me" personalized plates, but the Lexus on the right was three cars ahead, and its plate defied interpretation. My first guess was BOSCALA. An Italian restaurant? A driver proud of his ethnic heritage? Two cars away. BSAN?? Something to do with opera? Bees and what? Byzantium? A yellow Hummer blocked my view. The commute was still young—plenty of time. Near Metrotech, the Lexus in front of me moved smartly into the right lane. A Lexus parade in the making? No, the right-lane Lexus do-si-doed into the center lane, and we all glided to a stop.
And there it was: BSAMCLO.
It took me a moment as I paged through the neural file cabinet, knitting sounds together and moving lips to try out the sounds of different letters. Bingo! From the Spanish besar and so on. My imagination went wild. I pictured him each evening leaving work and pausing just a moment for to smile briefly before he joined the commute or stopping for a satisfied minute before he backed out of the garage in the morning. Did he take a certain joy in sitting in traffic in front of a Hummer? The most wonderful thing was that he had managed to get the plate by the VDOT which has rules about such things. Yes, indeed, BSAMCLO was better than the red Mustang convertible with the QUIM plate.
I laughed all the way home. A liberal arts education is a wonderful thing.