I <3 My New Jersey License Plate Ashtray
About a year and a half ago, I was on the boardwalk in Asbury Park and walked into a little shop selling various New Jersey paraphernalia. The shelves were full of baseball caps with the logo of the Stone Pony, glittery t-shirts stating “Jersey Girl,” and a whole bunch of different items with the Tillie face on them. In the middle of all these Jersey Shore beach shop standards was something different.
It was a piece of a New Jersey license plate that was made into an ashtray. It had a depressed, round center and grooves on the side for placing the cigarettes. I was in love at first sight.
Could there a better symbol to epitomize the trashiness of the Armpit of America than a beat up New Jersey license plate transformed into a receptacle for cigarette butts? I think not. The very act of smashing a lit cigarette into the heart of New Jersey’s iconic pale yellow plate is a metaphor for something I’m not quite sure of myself. And the image of a pile of ashes right next to the words “Garden State” is such an irony that even Alanis Morissette wouldn’t know what to do with it.
Despite the philosophical issues that a stupid New Jersey license plate ashtray provides, I didn’t buy it. For one, the price was a little too steep for my liking. Especially since, (reason #2) I don’t smoke. Thirdly, I was honestly too embarrassed to bring the item to the register. Even though the store was staffed by two emo freaks with those nasty plugs in their ear lobes, I would have felt like a misfit spending $40 on a discarded piece of metal banged up until it vaguely resembled an ashtray.
So I left that shop empty handed. And I have regretted the decision ever since. Fast-forward to a couple months ago. I found myself back in Asbury Park on a mission. I was going to buy the license plate ashtray. Running past hoards of the homosexual yuppie hipsters that have now taken over and enormously improved Asbury Park, I made my way to that beach shop. I was shocked with what I found. The whole shop was gone. Along with it, my dreams of putting out imaginary cigarettes on a New Jersey license plate.
But the dream didn’t die. I’m happy to announce that, as of today, I am the proud owner of a New Jersey license plate ashtray! The circumstances of how exactly it came into my possession are still somewhat unclear. I don’t know who made it, where exactly it came from, or what it cost. All I know is that someone wanted me to have it. And now I do. Here she is:
Is that not a thing of beauty? The golden yellow color is reminiscent of the sun setting over Newark Bay. It also makes one think of the teeth of a cashier at Wawa. Or the urine-soaked pants of a hobo on the streets of Jersey City. All in all, the essence of New Jersey.
So now that I have this thing, what in the world can I do with it? Taking up smoking is clearly an option. But I figure it would take days, maybe even weeks to get addicted. I need a more immediate use for my New Jersey license plate ashtray.
I could use it as a pen holder:
Or a coaster:
Or a change receptacle:
Or a bookmark:
Or a place to put my keys:
It could even be a candy dish:
So in the last picture, those are actually Tylenol PMs, since I don’t have any candy. But you get the idea.
What do you think I should do with my new New Jersey license plate ashtray???