How many backpacks does it take to make a high school graduate? How many skinned knees, chocolate milk cartons, pee-wee games and Crayoned Valentines does it take to get there? How many late night cramming sessions, sports and band championships, heartbreaks and homecoming proms? How many hours in the classroom are necessary for a student to cross the stage with a diploma in his hand? And after that, will they have learned enough to know where their car’s license tag stickers go?
If I hadn’t known school had started midway of week-before-last, I’d have known it for sure that Friday when I headed north on Boulevard toward home. The traffic was fierce both coming and going, and about every 10 vehicle was an Edmond Police car. The orange 25 mph school zone light blinked on and off. I slowed to accommodate the warning, grateful that steps were being taken to protect crossing students, pleased to have done my part in keeping them safe.
I continued on in that smug assurance until I looked in the rearview mirror and saw the whirling lights of the patrol car that had crossed Danforth behind me. I pulled onto a cross road, lowered the window, and was digging for proof of insurance when a friendly face appeared in the gap. “You won’t need that,” said the officer. “Come with me to the back of your car. There’s something you need to attend to.”
So I did, and what I saw was my license tag with a 2013 sticker on the left side, where the month of purchase was supposed to have been ever since I bought the car in 2003, and a 2011 sticker on the right side, where the 2013 sticker was supposed to have been since April.
So where was the 2012 sticker, you might ask? I know I did, and I do to this day. Not sandwiched between the month of purchase sticker and the 2013 sticker as you might suspect, and certainly not beneath the 2011 sticker. I know because it wasn’t there when I carefully razor bladed all the stickers off my license plate (as the tag agent told me to do), Super Glued the 2013 sticker on the right where it belonged and stuck the APR sticker the agent gave me on the left. What a nice man not to laugh out loud until I was almost out the door.
How many license tag stickers does the average woman replace in a lifetime? How many times does she have to mess up before she gets it right? And when she does mess up, how many polite young officers and helpful tag agents guide those red-faced women through their trials and send them on their way with a smile?
Note: I’ll give any grade-schooler a dollar if he can figure out what I did with that 2012 sticker.
MARJORIE ANDERSON is an Edmond resident.