The joys of getting carded

Published 11:07 pm Thursday, September 17, 2015

By Pam Stone

When it’s time to renew your license, if you’re anything like me, you make an effort to look somewhat presentable: freshly coiffed hair, careful makeup, favorite top with a flattering neckline…all neatly in place, and with the self assuredness of looking reasonably attractive, you stand against the wall, the DMV worker steps behind the camera and all your confidence evaporates as your face becomes fixed in a sort of jerky half smile, eyes, in an effort not to blink during the flash, unnaturally wide, looking to all the world as if you just sat on your keys.


And you get to carry around that horror in your wallet for the next five years.


When I lived in Los Angeles, where any moment involving a camera becomes as important as a magazine shoot, many people took great pains to look as photogenic as possible at the DMV and I cringe at the memory of standing in line, myself, after having guest hosted some morning show, “Good Day L.A!” or “Wakey Wakey,” or whatever the hell it was, to take full advantage of the fact that people who knew what they were doing had professionally applied my make-up and fixed my hair which looked decidedly different than my own attempts, which tended to resemble a child playing with finger paints and a leaf blower at the same time.


The result was my photo looked great. I mean, unbelievable. I mean, nothing like me whatsoever.


“What are you, a model?” asked the bouncer outside Sloan’s, our neighborhood bar, while I waited in a huddle with the rest of my friends as we were being carded to prove our age before admission. Looking up and realizing the license had been handed to him by me, he frowned and said, “Hey, wait a minute, this isn’t you. Get lost.”


“Seriously, that’s me.”


“No way.”


“It is – with a lot of make-up.”


“Nice try. Next!”


“I’m telling you, it’s me with a lot of make up. Like, a ton.”


“Like, Spackle,” added my friend, Roz, unhelpfully.


The doorman stepped back into the light, peered once more, closely, and shook his head.


“Look at the height!” I cried, “And the weight! How many other women come in here that are this height and aren’t really men?”


“I guess you’ve gotta point,” he admitted, “Alright, go ahead.”


With a hangdog expression and suffering the further humiliation of my friends jeering, “After you, Cindy Crawford,” I led the way into Sloan’s and spent the rest of the evening hunched over a Corona and scowling most unphotogenically. It’s one thing to be told, when you make an effort, “Hey, you look great!” It’s quite another to hear, “You can’t possibly look this great!”


So I think this time, as I go to my local DMV this month in South Carolina, I’m going to save myself a lot of time and bother. My hair, usually squashed down by a baseball cap during barn chores, might not even see a comb before I walk in. Forget make-up, I’ll just make sure there’s no grease on my cheek or manure on my collar. I’ll stand against the wall, when its my turn, as if in a police line-up, and as I begin to sneeze from the bits of hay nestled in my shirt pocket, the camera will click: catching me with nostrils flared, upper lip curled like Elvis, and one eye screwed shut.


And when I get pulled over for speeding, the cop’ll take one look at my license and say, “That’s you all right.”