No one, not even the Canadian government, can stop Dave Assman from displaying his last name on his rear end. The rear end of his truck, that is.

Assman (pronounced “Oss-man”) felt assailed when the Saskatchewan Government Insurance agency denied his application for a personalized license plate bearing his name. It was deemed “unacceptable” for appearing to be a salacious reference to one who considers himself a connoisseur of the junk in the trunk. But Assman considers his name a point of pride, not the butt of a joke.

The applicant appealed the agency’s decision and, expecting to be rejected again, commissioned a large decal depicting the plate he wanted. He placed it on the rear of his truck, where the lettering “ASSMAN” spans the width of the tailgate. Then he gleefully posted a picture of it on Facebook, where it went viral.

The photo of the truck and decal generated 1,300 comments. It has been shared more than 5,000 times. Observers noted this scuttlebutt seems to be the latest instance of life imitating “Seinfeld.” In one episode, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles mistakenly sends Kramer a proctologist’s vanity plates reading “ASSMAN.”

Such a plate may have won a thumbs-up in a fictionalized New York, but it didn’t fly with Saskatchewan Government Insurance, which manages vehicle registration and handles personalized plate requests. The agency rejected Assman’s appeal the same day it was received. After the photo went viral, the SGI took the controversy with good humor, responding, “All’s well that ends well.”

It’s hard to blame the agency for rejecting Assman, even though he merely sought to use his name. Its censors’ jobs are to match wits with applicants’ highly creative — and completely dirty — minds. The government doesn’t want drivers zooming around with plates that force soccer moms in SUVs to explain the birds and bees to their 9-year-olds as they merge onto the freeway. “Mom, why does that license plate say ‘RU8TEEN’?”

What’s wrong with a plate that reads 3MTA3? Nothing, unless you’re looking at it in a rearview mirror.

In one year alone, the state of Virginia denied more than 700 vanity plate requests, including IHAV2P and IAMHIGH, along with 100 requests beginning with the letter “F” and myriad proposals involving the number 69. But in Florida, where just about anything goes, the state motor vehicle agency permits plates bearing clothing-optional messages such as O2B NUDE, BARE ALL and BE NAKED. However, the state has spiked 4NICK8 and CAT BUTT. Somewhere, Assman is shaking his head.

Dismayed though he may be, there’s no doubt that when it comes to personalized plate applications, gatekeepers are necessary. Even if they occasionally foil a real-life Assman.

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Ben Bromley writes for the Baraboo News Republic.


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