Monday, January 28, 2013
LUCY BURDETTE: I've had a very stressful month with my identification papers. First I had to get a new drivers license photo. Which came out passable. I do understand that the last one was taken seven years ago and changes have ensued. I could live with that.
But then my passport was due to expire. Aside from waiting in the line at the Post Office endlessly, the worst part of this process was, again, a new photo. I trotted down to a nearby CVS and asked the clerk if they took passport photos. She giggled with delight and pulled out an instant camera. This would be her very first time taking a passport photo. (I should also mention that it was the second day after I had a haircut with a new hair stylist. If you're like me, you know that your hair almost always looks amazing coming right out of the salon. The second day, not so much.)
So back to the story. The woman took the picture and was very excited about the result. To my practiced eye, it looked more like a Most Wanted mug shot than the photo of a nice lady you'd enjoy having visiting your country.
Lucy: I can't send this picture in.
Lucy's husband: It's cute. It looks like you.
Lucy: I'd rather never travel again than use that photo.
Lucy's husband: It's fine. Don't be vain.
He struck a nerve. So I waited for a week to see if time would heal all wounds. Nope. Then I peddled my bike across town to the other CVS and started over again. The result is not the most gorgeous shot ever taken, but it looks more like me.
How about you Reds? Any photo horror stories?
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Me? You're asking ME? The princess of particular?
I had a passport photo taken once in the CVS, big mistake. I started griping that the clerk had me stand directly under a light, which is a disaster. (Look up before you get a photo taken, sisters, and make sure there's not a only downlight on you.) Plus, it was green. So *that* passport photo is in the pocket of the backseat of our car, which is where it will stay.
I got a better one taken. Not a glam or even flattering one, that's impossible, I guess. But not hideous.
But it's so hilarious--when I travel, sometimes I wear my glasses, not contacts. And not always make-up. So I love it when the TSA guy looks at my passport photo, then at me, then at the photo, then shrugs and hands it back. Like--if you say so, ma'am.
Here's a photo of me at age 6 or so. Things have gotten better since then, I guess.
LUCY: Ha, ha Hank. I knew you'd have something to say on this topic! Are you sure you won't dig that photo out of the backseat pocket and let us have a look?? The six-year-old photo is adorable!
HALLIE EPHRON: I look at those passport pictures taken decades ago that I HATED back then and now I think: pretty cute! Youth is so wasted on the youthful. This passport picture was taken just before I graduated college.
In my last passport photo I look just like Whitey Bulger -- not Catherine Greig, Whitey. And I'm not sharing it. I know, I know, people say he looks pretty good for his age.
ROSEMARY HARRIS: Well, my passport pic was taken seven years ago so compared to what it would look like if taken this morning, it's not so bad. My driver's license, on the other hand - grotesque. And the lighting at CT MVB made me look like Morticia Addams. The worst are the quickie shots for visas. I took one once that was so bad the photographer actually said "let's take another, dear." Most annoying is that husband Bruce has never taken a bad photo.
RHYS BOWEN: If you think the US passport pix are bad, then you should see the English ones. You are not allowed to smile. It has to be full face, square on, hair back from forehead. I truly expected to have my prison inmate number directly beneath it. Drivers license for some reason always looks pretty good.
LUCY: my gosh, Rhys, why on earth won't they let you smile?? You are so much more beautiful than that photo...
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: My worst passport photo is a group shot from my childhood, back in the day when kids traveled on their parents' passport. I was six or seven, with a wild thicket of hair, an eye patch (there to correct my amblyopia) and my two front teeth missing. My younger sister's blond curls for some reason exploded to mad scientist height, and she's wearing overalls which, in the black and white picture, look like garb issued by the Soviet Toddler's Collectivist. My usually composed and chic mother has the strained look often seen in POW videos, probably due to the efforts of getting two overactive girls through the passport process. The overall effect is that of a family of Moldovian refugees fleeing the destruction of their village.
I also want to know why you can't smile in the UK passports. Still trying to convince the rest of the world it's all stiff upper lip?
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Lucy, still chuckling. I have to have my driver's license renewed this year, and am not looking forward to it. And what about our Costco or Sam's cards ID photos? I am not posting my Costco ID!
My current passport picture is surprisingly not bad, so I went digging in the file for the old passports. OMG, the 1989 photo, when I had the really short hair with the really curly perm???? What was I thinking? And no, I'm not posting that one, either. But I found my first passport. It's certainly not flattering (again, what was with the hair?) and I don't know why I'm doing the "covering up bad teeth" smile, but there is a certain nostalgic charm to it. And then, on the second page, I found the stamp from my first ever trip to England. That I have to include, and a photocopy is going in my Iona journal.
But it just goes to show that I, at least, can't depend on memory. I've told the story for years about flying into Gatwick that first time and seeing the Surrey countryside. The passport is stamped Heathrow.
LUCY: There you go reds, aren't we some good sports? How about you, any photo horror stories to start the week off with a good laugh?