I love playing the license plate game, especially on long car rides. When we were younger, Jess and I played when the family went on trips. When we moved her from Denver, Colorado to Rochester, New York years ago, it was a four-day cavalcade of spotting license plates. Jess drew a crude map of the United States and we colored in the states that we saw. Total we found 46 states (those not found: Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, and Delaware). Not too shabby.
My boyfriend Fred and I enjoy playing as well but we make it a competition, something Jess and I rarely did. Our first long trip together (we went to the Ikea in Cincinnati) we kept a running total. Even though I was driving, I pulled ahead quickly. On our return trip I wasn’t feeling well so Fred drove while I slept. Every once in a while he would wake me up to call out a state. When we got home, the game was over and I was the clear winner, despite being asleep for the last hour and a half.
On another trip to Cincinnati, I was driving again but this time Fred was way ahead. This trip we decided to count western states worth two points and Hawaii and Alaska worth five. At one point I had a golden opportunity to close the gap. Fred took off his glasses to clean them and his head was bent down. I spotted a van in the lane next to us and it had a yellow plate. I couldn’t read what state it was but I knew it was one we hadn’t gotten yet. I stepped on the gas to try to get closer before Fred noticed. Unfortunately, he looked up just as I was nearing the van and, with his glasses still off, yelled out, “Alaska!” for five points.
The license plate game has since evolved into a continual competition for us. There is no beginning or end, just call ’em when you see ’em. We’ll be in mid-conversation and one of us will slip in a state and then continue on with the original topic, like, “I was at work and – Virginia – this guy asked me the weirdest question.” Sometimes if Fred is the first one to spot an out-of-state plate, I’ll hum and look away, pretending he didn’t just score.
The game goes on even if we’re not together. If one of us sees a rare plate, like Idaho or even Ontario, the other receives a notification text. Today, however, I spotted a plate so rarely seen in the Midwest that I had to call Fred right away. He answered his phone and I immediately said, “Hawaii.”. Knowing full well what I was talking about, he replied, “For the win!”