The Invisible Woman
Life is a series of snapshots, frozen moments in time that serve as proof you were "here." From the long ago black and white, often yellowed and musty-smelling photos of yourself as an infant, to the present-day digital downloads, it's all documented. But something peculiar happened right after I gave birth to my first child. I became invisible. Mysteriously, I disappeared from all family events and summer vacations. My husband was there. So were my kids. I have proof. But where was I? Oh, now I remember – I was the one taking the pictures.
Now, what does my invisibility have to do with the Department of Motor Vehicles? Everything! You see, my driver's license photo is the only evidence I have that I even exist. So, I was more than a little giddy when I received my renewal letter from them to update my plastic card. But this year I was going to be smart about it. Against all odds, I was going to be the first person, ever, to thwart their insidious fugly filter – because we all know the DMV makes you look unfortunate on purpose. They do this in case you're ever arrested for an unnatural or otherwise serious bell-tower-like crime. The media will splash this lone, freakish snap of you to convince every viewer, and future jury member, that you really are guilty. "Good grief," they will say. "She totally looks insane. Did you see that picture?"
So I took countermeasures before I went in. I put on lipstick and eye shadow. I tweezed my brows and even shaved my upper lip. But we all know this was an exercise in futility.
Let's review the facts: The lady behind the camera, the same camera Mathew Brady used at Gettysburg, is still working at the DMV. I think she came with the building. Anyway, this woman is obviously the mastermind behind the ugly-picture generator. To prove my point, eight years ago my driver's license photo made me look like I was a drunk homeless person. Four years ago she took, what I can only describe as "constipated serial-killer Jane." And today, after all of my primping and plucking, this happened...
I walked into their concrete jail and took a number. The smell of industrial disinfectant mixed with the broken dreams of the pilgrims assembled here told me I was in the right place. I sat down in one of the plastic chairs and rooted nervously through my purse for more lipstick. But there was no time. My number was called almost immediately. As I approached the counter, I was directed to answer a bunch of questions and then told to have a seat. In my mind, I was on a break. So I spaced out until I vaguely heard, "Look at the red dot and smile." *CLICK*
Apparently I had suffered a stroke when she pushed the button. I know this because the photo displayed was me with half of my mouth sagging downward and my left eye firmly paralyzed in the "holy cow!" position. She then asked if it was a "keeper."
So we went for round two. On this spin, the expression on my face this time was somewhere in between “I just saw a naked old guy run past me” and “why did you toss a dead squirrel at my head.” Unfortunately, I now had to choose between the two distinctly regrettable poses. I picked the stroke picture. I figure it will garner me more sympathy at my imaginary future trial.
So, thank you DMV. Despite your fugly filter, I can rest well knowing you have given me proof of life, albeit in a series of unflattering life chapters. And now, when my children get older and ask me why I never showed up at their school play, soccer game or birthday party, I can open my wallet and present them with an assortment of demented pictures of myself. All covered by a fancy hologram, each endorsed by the U.S. Government and every one a reminder I am really not invisible.