What's a Boink?

Description: Description: C:\Users\Mark Kaminski\Documents\web pages\mrbean.gifOK, based upon what some others have said... "boink" is not what you might be thinking. ;-) It's a bit of a favorite word of mine; it means "to happen suddenly"... like someone appearing out of nowhere - BOINK!... something gets done with unimaginable speed - BOINK! In the Calvin and Hobbes comic series by Bill Watterson, boink means "to fail or breakdown somehow."

It all began when I got my first Mini (a 1962 Austin 850). I thought I might apply for one of those "vanity" license plates to go along with the fun aspects of the car (i.e., just for laughs) and besides, all of the money for custom plates goes to highway litter patrol. So, I was told that I could rank-order 3 requests to the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles. Having discussed it with the kids, we has narrowed it down to the following: 

    1. BOINK that favorite word of mine and I thought it somehow fit a Mini as it might suddenly or unexpectedly appear mixed with other cars on the road
    2. 62 MINI which, much to my surprise, wasn't taken
    3. WOOF another word I like... I thought it also fit... as in a little dog thinking it was bigger than it was, but it was taken by a guy named Woof!
    4. BEAN was the kids' preference (or MR.BEAN which was also available)... an obvious reference to the British TV comedy that we love. By the way, Mr. Bean drives a newer Mini than mine.

Description: Description: C:\Users\Mark Kaminski\Documents\web pages\CalvinBoink.GIF So I decide to go with BOINK and select 62 MINI as my alternate on the application form. About 3 weeks later I get a letter from the D.M.V. telling me I would be getting 62 MINI. I thought "too bad but what the heck, it's OK." However, I decided it wouldn't hurt to at least call the D.M.V. and ask why I didn't get BOINK. A woman at the custom plate desk answered the phone and after hearing me ask "why," there is a very long pause... she came back with "well, sir, it has sexual connotations." I said "oh, gads, I must be out of the slang loop these days." Now, the truth be known, I knew that there was an alternative meaning of the word, but I never used it that way (and some parts of the world, the word in question would be "BONK"). I went on to explain how it was a favorite family word and that my son had a popular "best of" Calvin & Hobbes book entitled "Scientific Progress Goes Boink" (1991). She said that she would consult with her supervisor about the BOINK license plate and that they would call me back. I didn't expect a favorable ruling with a call back (afterall, I was dealing with a state agency).


Description: Description: C:\Users\Mark Kaminski\Documents\web pages\cartoonmini.gifNow, a tiny bit more background. There has been quite a lot of controversy in Oregon about custom plates. There are about 25,000 of them and some have pushed the limits of acceptability. Evidently the D. M.V. has a policy that no plates will be issued that are rude, have references to drugs, or have sexual content. In fact, there had recently been a big lawsuit over this. A woman named Barbara Shaw had always had a license plate with her initials on it, and the D.M.V. tried to revoke it - B.S. won and the state lost that case. In another one, a guy had a 1969 Ford El Camino with the plate "69;" when he tried to transfer the plate to a 1974 Chevy, it was revoked. I can't recall how that case was settled. Most recently the ACLU has considered challenging the D.M.V. rules as repression of free speech... we'll see.

OK, so I get a call back from the D.M.V. supervisor after about 15 minutes. She said, "hey, my son has that book too... you can have the BOINK plates!" I was delighted, and the rest is history. I used to get comments from some who sort of "wink wink, nudge nudge" me about it's double meaning. All the more fun! (oh, by the way, you simply wouldn't believe the multitude of references to the word "boink" in cyberspace... I did a search and found thousands, including a site where someone also had a car with the same plates! There is a woman in North Carolina that has a new, BMW, Mini with BOINK plates!)

When I finally sold that car (1999), I kept the plates. Then, when I went back into DMV to transfer the plates to the newer Mini, it started all over again... and with a little persuasion and luck, I got them on the 1973 registered car (though actually about a 1990 Mini). And, finally, when I sold that Cooperized Mini in 2005, I saved the plates and successfully (easy this time) got them on the 1959 Bugeye Sprite. J

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