Z: Do you want to know what my favorite street sign in Santa Barbara is?

She: No. Couldn’t we discuss the weather? Or potatoes? Is this really where you want to go?

Z: I like street signs. I’ve always liked street signs.

She: Sigh. I guess we all need our hobbies. I married you. I have to claim some responsibility. OK. What’s your favorite street sign?

Z: The Montecito city limit sign.

She: Not Leslie Street? What’s so special about Montecito’s sign? Is it gold-encrusted lettering or something?

Z: Nah, but it’s awesome, because it lists the population of Montecito. Do you know what the population of Montecito is?

She: Uhh … six?

Z: Might as well be. On the sign, it says 10,000. How perfect is that? 1,000 would be too few, too Podunk, and 100,000 too unwieldy, too urban. 10,000 is the perfect-sized city. It’s a good, round number.

She: What happens if a person moves away?

Z: Then someone else takes their spot.

She: What happens if somebody dies?

Z: Then they have another birth that very day. Montecito is just that kind of city. At least, that’s what the perfect population of 10,000 implies.

She: I thought Santa Barbara was supposed to be the perfect city. What does it say on our city limit sign?

Z: There are three signs that I know of: one on northbound Highway 101, one on the southbound 101, and one at the base of Highway 154. Each one proclaims a substantially messier population of 89,600.

She: You sound disappointed that the signs all have the same population listed.

Z: I am. There was a point in my childhood when they didn’t.

She: You remember this?

Z: It may well be the only thing I remember. It’s the genesis of my appreciation for street signs. I vividly recall the thrill of discovering that the sign on the 154 didn’t match the two signs on the 101.

She: Did you alert the media?

Z: I desperately wanted to. I wanted to know who to share this remarkable discovery with, who this mistake should be reported to. I thought that when I told the authorities, I would be given a great reward. A dollar a person seemed about right.

She: You had a sophisticated sense of the world.

Z: I still think a reward should be forthcoming, even though I haven’t been able to share this news until now.

She: Your view of the world remains consistent.

Z: It’s like finding a typo in The New York Times. Very satisfying.

She: My favorite population sign is in New Cuyama.

Z: No wonder nobody knows where New Cuyama is. Do you want to know what my second favorite street sign in Santa Barbara is?

She: Do I have a choice?

Z: It’s really more a gaggle of signs. New, taller street name signs have been popping up — way up — in various places around town.

She: How do you know this?

Z: They startle me every time I see one. You have to lean way back and crane your neck to see them. I first noticed them on the Mesa, and then yesterday when I was driving up Santa Barbara Street.

She: Why are the street name signs getting taller?

Z: I suspect it may be for the snow plows, so that they can still see what street they’re on when there’s 15 feet of snow on the ground.

She: I’ll bet it’s a sneaky way to get the Blue Line Project through. I wouldn’t be surprised if all the street signs are now the height that the oceans will rise when the ice caps melt.

Z: Now that’s just silly.

She: Or it’s so that they will be eye level for the Land Shark. Or for that ridiculously tall bicycle that you see around town. Or maybe our population isn’t just getting larger, it’s also getting taller.

Z: I’m sorry I mentioned the tall signs.

She: Why? Does it sound loony when somebody rambles on about street signs?

Z: No. I’m just saying.

She: Yes, dear.

— Tell She and Z what you think by emailing leslie@lesliedinaberg.com. Click here for previous She Said, Z Said columns. Follow Leslie Dinaberg on Twitter.