I have to admit that I dread any trip to the Division of Motor Vehicles, but I particularly dread the trip where I have to get my new license photo taken. By some miraculous act of God, my last license picture was GOOD. I ACTUALLY LIKED IT. I am not photogenic, at least this is what I tell myself. It could just be that my photos are realistic and I don’t like them because I am actually not that good looking. As Twain says, “Homely truth is unpalatable.” At any rate, it was time to go in for the dreaded license photo. By some other miraculous act of God the DMV was empty. I walked right in and was waited on right away. This should have been a sign to me that something was definitely awry.
Every other DMV visit I had been able to read War and Peace. In retrospect the DMV was empty because all the real workers had been replaced by zombies. I walked up to the lady. She was dressed in black, wore glasses and at no time emanated any signs of life. She stared out at me blankly and said in a monotone almost automated voice, “What is your name?” Then she proceeds to ask me a number of questions all in this same monotone voice. I want to ask her if she would like me to get the resuscitation paddles, but I think better of it as this IS the woman who will be taking the dreaded license photo.
I am instructed to place my forehead against this machine which in turns lights up a screen. I make a note to myself to try and purchase one of these for home use. The kiddos would like it. Then I am instructed to read the letters aloud, just like at the eye doctors office. Curiously the letters spelled out R-U-N-F-O-R-Y-O-U-R-L-I-F-E. I found this odd, but didn’t have time to dwell on it as we moved to the next test. This test is a “sign” test. This is to see if you understand and can recognize the street signs you see everyday. I feel greatly worried that two of these signs are a traffic light and a stop sign. Do people really need a review of THESE? If they do, I am going to start riding the Metro. The only sign I miss is the “Dead End” sign. It is a red sign with a white box in the middle, minus the letters of course. “Dead End” seems to be some sort of metaphor for this whole experience I am enduring.
Finally it is time for the dreaded photo. The only thing worse than getting ones picture taken for ones license is that you also have to tell your weight. Out loud. Don’t they know that this is anathema to every American woman? Heck to every woman on the planet? You want me to tell you my REAL weight OUT LOUD? This is the equivalent of having the dressing room door ripped open by some kid when you are in the middle of trying on swim suits. You finally got up the courage to try on that bikini and BAM that renegade kid exposes you. It’s THAT traumatizing. The weight question always puts me in a moral dilemma. There is a strong urge to lie, but then I am afraid that my nose will look longer in the picture. Do I go with the long nose or the short nose? Do I dare speak aloud the real weight or go with the false weight? These questions seem too daunting.
I want to protest that these are the kinds of questions that take eons of philosophical debate to answer. I am given seconds. I make my decision. I am also asked a very serious question of whether I want to be an organ donor. I decide I am going to consider donating my brain to science. Certainly that particular DMV worker is on some sort of waiting list somewhere to receive a new brain. She asks me in her droning voice to take a seat. I am wondering if she has any experience at all with cameras. After all this IS a very important photo. The light has to be just right. I can’t be smiling too broadly, or too wanly. Does my hair look okay? Do I look fat in this shirt? Does she think the color I am wearing will become me? She doesn’t care. The woman who knows the two greatest secrets of my life, my age and my weight, doesn’t give a rip. The flash is blinding and then the dastardly deed is over. As was expected, I didn’t like it. I wanted to ask for a retake, but mummies don’t give retakes. So I am stuck with my homely truth, my genuine weight, and my short nose. I guess it could be worse. I could be a mummy who works at the DMV.