Friday, August 21, 2009

Waxing Philosophical on the Inevitable Hideousness of ID Photos

It's that time of year again -- time to jump through an inordinate number of hoops to make any Cirque du Soleil acrobat look less-than-limber. Yes. It's time to renew my Colombian VISA, this time getting permanent residency here.
That is, if a decent document photo isn't a requisite.
I'm quite certain that if the authorities were to pick and choose who they wanted to reside within their borders, doing so based on document photos would narrow the field down to, um, one. Or perhaps two lucky people who actually took a decent ID photo.
So two days ago when I had jumped through hoop twelve-hundred and fifteen, sweating buckets while walking up and down the city streets, depositing money in banks, getting photocopies, returning to hand in paperwork only to find they hadn't given me all the information (big surprise), the inevitable happened. "Yeah. We need two 3x3 document photos."
Most, at this stage, would say, "Ahh, hell. I'll do it tomorrow." Because, as I mentioned, I was grimy, sweaty, flushed, and looked like a tomato with spiky hair. However, I feel like I've reached a Zen moment of acceptance of the inevitable hideousness of any kind of photo in which I'm supposed to "smile."
This goes way back to school picture days -- days I will always look back upon with a kind of grim disdain. There was always some overweight lady with coffee breath who would prep us before we sat in front of the big white screen. One year, the lady parted my bangs right down the middle and I ended up looking like Alfalfa from The Little Rascals (Yes. I have cowlick issues -- another thing I've finally come to terms with). And then there was the year the lady overlooked, YES OVERLOOKED, the green booger in my left nostril. I'm sure parents that year were thrilled to have a blown-up class photo with booger girl.
At the time, I was mortified (much like Elaine's nipple photo on Seinfeld). I was sure to be named booger or Alfalfa for the rest of my life. But, over the years, I've grown to accept the fact my hair never looks quite right, and the smile is always too forced and pasty.
So, two days ago, when he wanted the photos, I nodded and walked back another kilometer to the photo place, sweaty, grimy, slapped my money on the counter and said, "I need photos." The man looked me up and down, took the cash and nodded grimly to the back of the photo shop where two women frantically painted their eyes, curled their lashes and even spritzed on perfume for their photos.
"DON'T YOU KNOW?" I wanted to scream. Again, I should reiterate, I was having a bad document-goose-chase day. They looked at me, my sweaty hair and now-purple cheeks and took their photos.
I walked in the booth and this is what I got for my permanent residency card here in Colombia:

No. Not pretty. I kind of look like a felon stuck in the prison system. You know. The one who's there because she got a shitty lawyer and can't seem to get a re-trial.
Oh well. Like I said, I'm Zen about the photos now. Just a shame it's a permanent VISA.

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