My passport expired recently. It saw very little use, with my only overseas trips being a short weekend jaunt to Canada and a deliriously hot, but wonderful, ten day stint in Venezuela. While my family leaves the country yearly, each time I board a plane, I somehow end up in Texas. All of my international travel takes place solely in my imagination, fueled by Rick Steves podcasts, travel blogs, pinterest boards, and harassing coworkers for all the details from their vacations to Israel or Italy.
When I mentioned to my father that my passport was no longer valid, he insisted I update it immediately. He knows I just sit in my cubicle year after year while the passport just chills in a desk drawer, but immigrant parents always want you to be prepared to flee the country. So I went online, printed out the necessary forms, read all the frequently asked questions like a good nerd, and did the required amount of grumbling about how much money it would cost. Still, I started to get excited. Even if it meant traveling solo, I was determined (determined!) that the new passport would be littered with stamps.
And if I'm being completely honest, I was also really looking forward to having an updated photo. With my brown skin and thick brows and non-smiling expression, I looked a little like a terrorist in the old photo (Note to the NSA: I am NOT a terrorist. Even when I simply think of spitting my gum out onto the sidewalk while walking because all the flavor is long gone and the toughness is causing my jaw to ache, I feel guilty and hold it until an appropriate receptacle is available. I am a rule follower and respect all authority figures, even the parking authority). Since the rules called for a neutral expression in the photo, I practiced different ways to smile without actually smiling (warm eyes and the slightest upturn of the corners of the mouth).
I brought the old passport to work and showed the photo to a few people, confident that I would return from lunch with fabulous new photos and that we would all be stunned by the before and after. My brows were did, the Bobbi Brown foundation was carefully applied that morning, and I wore my favorite sophisticated red lipstick (Afghan Red by Nars).
I marched on over to my favorite store of all time, CVS pharmacy, and there was thankfully no wait in the photo center. But from there it rapidly went downhill. The clerk had me take my glasses off. Remember that scene from She's All That when Rachel Leigh Cook's character walks down the stairs with her glasses finally off and is magically gorgeous? Now imagine the complete opposite and that was me. My glasses stay on my face at all times. I do not wear contacts. I do not simply wear them to read. They only come off once I go to bed at night or in the shower. I vaguely remembered the FAQ stating glasses could remain on, but because I was not certain and because of my aforementioned respect for even low level authority figures, I did as told.
Apparently it threw me off my game entirely because the photos were printed right then, and instead of smiling with my eyes, they went cross-eyed. CROSS-EYED! I forgot to turn the corners of my mouth upwards and managed to look stern, confused, and bloated. I didn't even think that combination was possible!
I am aware of how vain this all sounds. And I also know the best thing for the sake of this little story would be to attach the photo. But I'm still single y'all and I'm not that dumb. I need a lesson in photo fierceness from the hot felon.