I recently got in and out of the DMV in less than 45 minutes on a Monday morning with no appointment. I shouldn't have told you that this early in the column, because now you will not believe anything I say ever again.
I really did go through the DMV that quickly and not just any DMV, but a DMV in the middle of Hollywood. I didn't believe it either. That speed was extremely unlikely, since Hollywood is a geographically small area with a large amount of people, and most of them have an acute understanding that they are more important than everyone else. The line at the Hollywood DMV is usually so long it is also the line for the Chicago DMV.
However, it was a distinctly Hollywood moment that made my incredibly short journey take 45 minutes instead of 40. Because there was a woman there who had an acute understanding that she was more important than me. But she also had an understanding that some day, she was going to make it! Coming off a driver's license and into a theatre near you!
This particular woman was in line in front of me to get her picture taken. And she must have thought it was a headshot, because the way she approached it was insane.
This was the DMV. If you are doing anything but trying to kill the camera with your eyes, you are the exception to the rule. I'm smiling in my new picture, but that's only because I was laughing about the ridiculous woman before me.
This woman looked like she was in her 60s but looked 50s. She had a "younger than her age" look, in that her face had been recycled a few times. She probably used to be beautiful came to Los Angeles decades ago to become a star, and found nothing more than a few roles where she played a part with a number in the title (i.e. Party Guest Three). If you ever saw the Seinfeld where Kramer moves to Los Angeles, imagine the neighbor that kept hitting on him. If Ms. DMV actually played the role of the neighbor, I wouldn't and would be surprised. I wouldn't because she fits the part perfectly. I would because I bet she's never had a role that big in her life.
When it was time to take the picture, the woman asked how long it would last. When she was told that she'd need a new picture in four years, she was noticeably upset. (I know because she said, "Oh, that's upsetting.") She tried to convince the photographer to make the picture last longer, an odd thing for her to do since he had nothing to do with the expiration date on her particular license. Or anyone's, really. He's just the freakin photographer.
I am guessing she didn't want the picture to expire because she, unlike her headshot, was aging quickly, and she wanted to hold on to her youth. Except it looked like she already dropped that years ago.
After the photographer insisted he could not extend the validity of her driver's license, the woman took out her compact and began applying her make up. For a driver's license photo! She also brushed her hair.
Before she put on enough makeup to make Tammy Faye Baker jealous, the woman looked a bit like one of the characters in "Witness," the Harrison Ford movie where he goes undercover as an Amish man. I chuckled while picturing this woman at the Department of Horse Drawn Carriages, asking how long the pencil drawing would last.
There is something to be said for wanting to look good. Especially if you're pursuing a career in entertainment. But this was a driver's license. No one who matters to her career will ever see this. But I can imagine the scenario playing in her head where someone would.
It's a nice day, and she goes out for a drive along the beach, as she so often did before the Dodgers moved to town. She speeds a bit, because she likes things fast (mainly because she doesn't have much time left). A policeman stops her, and while he's taking down her information, he says, "say, this is a snazzy picture! My brother is the head of a major studio and is looking for a star for his next talkie. You have what it takes, my dear woman! Forget downtown, you're going straight to the top!"
Maybe I'm inventing all of this and the woman just wanted to hold on to her fleeting youth. But I can't imagine the florescent lighting, solid background, and antiseptic atmosphere of the Hollywood DMV helped that picture much. Especially since I saw the printout, and she totally blinked.
Good thing that picture only lasts four years. Ironic, since that's how long I was expecting to be on line.
Steve Hofstetter is the author of Student Body Shots, which is available at www.SteveHofstetter.com. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.