Most women want to look effortlessly beautiful. It’s true. Yet few can actually walk out the door looking fabulous merely by pulling a comb through their hair and throwing on a pair of jeans; everyone else has a little more work to do, though no woman wants that primping and tweaking to be seen in public. A la The Great and Powerful Oz, that curtain is to remain closed at all times.
So not too long ago, I noticed that it was time to renew my driver’s license. As my address had changed, I couldn’t renew online, which saddened me on multiple levels. For one, I loathe the DMV. It’s all kinds of depressing. Whenever I’m forced to enter one of their offices, it feels like a date where I’m about to break things off with the guy. I’m tense and a little sweaty, but there’s no way out of it. Plus, when it’s all over, I can treat myself to a Starbucks and move on with my life.
Second, I already liked my current driver’s license photo. I look happy and super tan. Way tanner than I have ever been in actual life. I know for a fact that I wasn’t even close to being that tan. Believe it or not, not every day is a beach day in LA. Yet after analyzing several other CA-issued licenses, it is my firm belief that the DMV is working in cahoots with the California Travel and Tourism Commission, deliberately tanning all driver photographs to perpetuate the SoCal stereotype of sand, sun and fun. Very sneaky… and I don’t mind one bit. You should see my old Illinois license in comparison; I look like I was just exhumed from my casket.
Anyway, my first attempt to the DMV was aborted when informed that they don’t take credit cards. Whaaat? A second attempt was also cut short when I noticed the appointment line snaking around the block. Even more depressing than the DMV? Waiting two hours just to get inside the building. Yet upon my third attempt, the ball finally got rolling. I filled out my paperwork, passed the eye test – no glasses, ma! – and needed only to take that picture. The picture that would be my official proof of ID for the next five years of my life. That’s pretty serious stuff. Depending on that photograph, I may or may not get the body check when going through airport security. Depending on that photograph, I may or may not get that free second drink from the cute bartender. I find that even when you’re standing in front of someone looking fabulous, should they see a less than flattering driver’s license pic, it instantly drops your street cred. I wasn’t going to let that happen.
There are no mirrors at the DMV. However, I noticed that the two women operating the cameras were sitting inside this huge glass cubicle, a cubicle that gave off just enough of a reflection to substitute for a mirror. I glanced around to make sure no one was paying any attention and then slyly began to give my hair a once-over before getting in line. That’s when one of the camera chicks caught me in the act: “Excuse me, you’re too close to the camera. Your shadow’s gonna be in the picture.”
Dammit. Not only did this woman just call me out, but also she did it in front of a half-dozen strangers. Hot with embarrassment, I proceeded towards the line. That’s when another DMV chick stepped in: “Sheila, she isn’t botherin’ no one. She’s way on the other side of the glass. Let her fix herself if she wants to.” She then grabbed me by the elbow and led me back to the cubicle to finish my primping, but not if Sheila had anything to say about it.
“Her shadow isn’t gonna be in the photo, Liz?”
“No! Why would it be in the photo? You’re a good ten feet away and the camera’s pointing in the other direction.”
“Well, I dunno. Just thought she shouldn’t be so close.”
“Aw, let her fix her hair if she wants to. She isn’t doin’ nothin’.”
I was mortified. At this point, all picture taking had ceased while Sheila and Liz continued to debate whether or not I was ruining everyone else’s photos. The people in line looked none too happy with me, and I noticed that some of those sitting in the waiting area had turned around to better hear the conversation. Liz had a death grip my arm; there was no escaping this nightmare. Finally, she turned to me and said, “You go right on ahead, honey. Do what you need to do.”
What I needed to do was disappear. Liz walked away. Sheila resumed her work. Eyes to the floor, I briskly made my way to the back of the line. I couldn’t care less about how I looked anymore and just wanted to get the hell out of there. That lasted all of two minutes, though. Realizing that I was next in line to be photographed, my vanity resurfaced and I quickly whipped out the lip gloss one last time before flashing the most dazzling smile I had in my arsenal for the camera, all the while questioning whether or not the blouse I was wearing clashed with the curtain backdrop. Oh well.
Epilogue: The picture turned out all right, but somehow they messed up my address. Considering using that as an excuse for a second chance at a better photo. Fingers crossed it’s Sheila’s day off.