take my soul, please

You can renew your driver’s license online now, because we
live in the future. I decided to do it the old-fashioned way, with the waiting
on line and the standing around, because I am vain. One of the first things I
did, when I came to California,
was register to vote, and switch over my license, so that I would not ever have
to take the fucking driver’s test with the fucking parallel parking ever
fucking again.

The registering to vote thing went just fine: I registered,
I voted. The taking the written test for the license went beautifully, because
I had studied, because I am anal like that. The picture-taking went less
well. I had forgotten I would be
captured on film for all time, and hadn’t really thought about my hair that
morning. If I recall correctly, however, my hair at that point took a lot of
thinking about, or I’d look like a confused Flock of Seagulls fan, just out of
a wind tunnel and into a raging inferno of hail. Bad hair. Bad. Sit.

So in the picture, I look slightly confused, a little bit
squinty (which is the fault of my round little cheeks squishing up my
eyeballs), totally lopsided (my face really is lopsided. It is most
distressing) and with Hair of Bad. Bad hair. Bad, bad hair. No biscuit. It is
flat on the top, and has these straight-across bangs that are kind of wispy but
totally blunt cut, and—it just doesn’t work. But the worst part is the
sides, where the bottom hangs straight down, but I’ve got these two little
wings on either side of my face, and it is just sad. You look at the girl in
the photo, and you want to tell her to turn around and think about the rabbits.

For five years, I’ve been making excuses for that fucking
photo. Because when I am ID’d, there is sometimes a look of shock and a glance
down and up, as if they are thinking, "I didn’t realize she was that ugly
when she walked in. Man." I once
got a very quiet "wow." Occasionally, I’ll get: "This looks
nothing like you at all!" and I say, "Well, I lost some weight—"
and then I get cut off when they say, "Man, that’s bad hair." So it’s
good to know at least my hair has improved over these intervening years, if not
my face. 

The picture is ugly, and the picture is disorienting to me.
Do I look like that? Did I? Do I want another quiet, bemused "wow"? I
did not. So I made an online appointment to renew my months-expired license and
today I went in and waited on line and stood around and had a conversation
about my tattoo where I said pretentious things about art though I didn’t mean to be pretentious, and took a
quick break between paying my cash and getting in line for my photo to primp. I
had good hair, and lipstick, and a nice sweater, and I thought, maybe this
time. Maybe the next five years, they will be five years of being ID’d without
being fraught with shame! Maybe the license photo will somehow capture my inner
beautiful heart and glowing spirit and special snowflakeness! Maybe photographs
really do steal your soul, and this time that will work! Maybe it’ll just not
fucking suck.

I made an electronic thumbprint and signed the little screen
and fluffed my hair, feeling kind of dumb for being so hopeful, and tried to
smile. "Okay!" the guy said. "Have a nice day!" "Can I
see it?" I said, and he shrugged and turned the screen towards me, and I
looked almost exactly the same—less round, but exactly as squinty, confused, lopsided, and now with extra
greasy in! How the fuck did I get so greasy-looking? My hair looked awesome,
though.

6 Replies to “take my soul, please”

  1. I laughed through this whole thing! I think I look demonic in mine. I keep expecting people to jump back when they look at it. I’m smiling too hard with this worry line between my brows, my smile ferocious and gleaming, I laughed hysterically when I saw it. I thought everyone else would laugh when they saw it, too. But no one really did. So that was bad–it means I must really look like that!

  2. Well, at least there’s the hair… Really, though, license pictures never look good. Never. My very handsome husband used to have one that looked like he had been locked in a cellar and beaten for several weeks before his picture was taken, and it has always mystified me – because he looked fine that day in real life. I think they use some kind of special lens of evil. EVIL!!

    Hey, also, I wanted to be presumptuous and ask you if perhaps maybe I could talk to you about your WLS sometime. Because in the freaky stalker bloggy way I feel like I know you some, and I am going to a WLS seminar next week and am slightly freaked out and very excited about the idea, all at once, and just… wondered if you could share some of your experiences? Or you could just ignore me, too, I am cool with that because I know I am sort of stalker-y and creepy.

  3. When I got married and changed my name they made me take a new photo. Somehow their special DMV camera makes me look like I have a healthy tan. In real life, I am one of the palest people ever. It makes me think everyone else’s photo probably comes out looking really orange and like they have a fake tan.

    On a side note, I read that the best way to look natural when you smile for a posed photo is to laugh when you smile. The article said if you’re laughing you tend to not over-stretch the smile, and you show the natural curve of your smile, instead of looking like you’re just showing teeth.

    The laugh/smile trick works pretty well, but I have a droopy left eye-lid for some reason (my sis has it too), so I have to remember to open my eyes really wide to compensate.

  4. Everyone who sees my license photo from three years ago tells me I look like an escaped convict. LOL. My hair is up in a ponytail, and I have a t-shirt on. Not sure where the escaped convict thing comes from, but okay. It is an awful photo though. My mom look like some wild-eyed serial killer in her last one, and she’s adorable in real life.

    Maybe they have a program on their computers to make us all look awful. I wonder if celebrities have it used on them or they still manage to look gorgeous and flawless. Hmm.

  5. When I switched my license to CT, they required that I bring a passport-style photo with me. Not illogically, I assumed they would use it for the license photo and showed up (for the third time, incidentally, after other failed attempts to appease the DMV fascists) unwashed, tired, and dark-circled. Of course, they looked at the passport photo, returned it to me, and instructed me to stand in front of the blue sheet. What?! I thought, Is this some sort of ANTI-VAMPIRE test? WTF! So now my picture is not only unwashed and unsmiling, it looks like I am trying very hard to kill the photographer using only my eyes. My evil, dark, pebbly laser eyes. (My eyes are typically blue and if not mild-mannered, at least not set to kill-on-sight).

    My mother, a lovely woman, looks rather like Benjamin Franklin. It is just not okay.

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