Thursday, December 27, 2012

Photo Finish

A bright light flashed in front of my eyes for a few seconds.

"One more."

I was at the DMV renewing my license about 10 years ago.  This was my fourth attempt at the photo. The first three hadn't gone too well.

"Your eyes are still closed. This is the last one, OK? No matter what happens, this one is the one we're going with."

I am not what you'd call photogenic. I'll see group pictures and think, "She looks like she usually does, and he looks like he usually does, but what is wrong with me? I don't look like that all the time, right? I mean, I look in the mirror and I look OK, sort of dashing and rugged, actually. How do I end up looking like a combination of Tom Arnold and Nathan Lane in photographs?"

So I was used to bad pictures. I don't know how many people throughout my life had said, "Why did you have to make that face in the photo," when I didn't have the heart to tell them that that was actually my normal face.

"OK, keep your eyes open this time. On three. One. Two. Three."


At this particular DMV there was a screen where the workers would see the photograph as it was being processed behind the counter. I'm standing there, blinking the sunspots out of my eyes when I hear the entire staff start laughing.

That's never a good sign.

"Here's your license, Mr. Adams," the woman behind the counter said with barely controlled laughter.

I looked at it, expecting the worst.

I wasn't let down. I was so afraid of closing my eyes, that I kept them open as wide as possible. I resembled an excited Mr. Furley with about 30 extra pounds.

My driver's license from 2000
It worked, I guess. Cops always did a double take when pulling me over, and it was always a winner whenever a group was playing "check out my terrible license photo." I really should have scanned it, but when I got it updated a few years back they gave me a new photo, one where I looked like a Russian mobster.

I just got a replacement license this morning after losing my wallet in Bradenton over Christmas. The photo is OK, but I do miss the power of having a driver's license photo that cracked up a whole office of hardened DMV workers, even after the thousands of terrible photos they had seen.

After five attempts at a photo this time, the woman behind the counter said, "Well, at least you have a better picture than your last one."

If she only knew.

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