Your one eye is closed just enough to give you a vague, Popeye-esque aura.
Your hair--which you're sure was in place when you'd arrived-- has managed to spring aloft, in a fine Gorgonian tradition, like lethargic, yet mildly curious snakes.
But only on one side.
A zit has appeared from nowhere to perch in the center of your forehead, a red pustulant beacon to the inevitable.
Your lipstick, which had been glossy in prime Angelina Jolie fashion (male readers, just go with me on this one), is now smeared and crooked, causing you to look less "Sexy Single" and more "Septegenarian Recovering from Severe Stroke."
Yet this-- THIS is what has been immortalized on your passport. The legal document used to identify you to the world for the next decade. This is on your driver's license, that everyday identification you will share with people in the places you patronize, to give them something to laugh about in the break room.
How does this happen?
Well, it's a little-discussed axiom I'd like to call the "Queuing Personal Degeneration Principle."
You see, what most folks don't realize is this:
- The photo is not designed to show you.
- It's designed to give a realistic depiction of what you will look like after you have traveled thousands of miles, sitting in the center seat of a plane the size of a tuna can, with a 400 pound man snoring lightly on your shoulder with scotch-and-peanut breath.
- It is the projected visual estimation of how you will appear after you've waited in the airport for an extra three hours only to learn your flight has been canceled and now they're sending you to Vancouver via a brief stopover in scenic Greenland.
- It is the view the police officer will get of you the moment you roll down your window and he says, "License and registration, please?"
- It is the most accurate way to ensure you are who you say you are, and Make Our World A Safer Place.
And while you might think these photo-takers in the post office and Driver's License Renewal Center are just slap-dash amateurs paid too-little to embrace the joys of working with the vain and surly public, this is also a common myth.
In fact, these individuals are artisans, highly-trained to uncover just the most perfect, most uncomfortable position in which to seat you, to get the optimum photo results. To light you such a way that that emerging pimple stands proud...
That once-tempered hair showcases its wild side...
That glossy mouth slides its southernmost.
They are trained in the the art of One-Shot Hideous Masterpieces.
It's exactly like painting the picture of Dorian Gray. Only, y'know, with film and stuff.
So remember, friends--
The next time you sit in the Post Office on the hard stool in front of the poorly-lit white screen that brings out the circles under your eyes...
And the Postmaster/Photographic Expert before you asks you to sit up straighter...
Now stick your neck out...
Now tilt your head to the left, no, the other left...
Then lowers the camera long enough so you blink and yawn and he can snap the picture...
Well, remember, this is not Glamour Shots.
This is For the Good of International Security. Feel glad. You're doing your country proud!
Questionne du jour: Are you happy with your license and/or passport photo? Has it ever scared small children or, say, liquor store clerks?