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License to Be Beautiful

"I want you to make me look beautiful and young for this picture," Louis said.

Most Saturday mornings I go to the Main Drain, a community garden where Adele and I exchange sweat equity for seasonal produce.

Chip and Louis are the chief honchos, and this morning, Louis was directing me to paint some of the homemade rustic furniture that graces the garden.

In particular, I was painting two tables whose bases were lopped-off almond trees with tops that looked like they came from old cable wire spools. They were now white, but soon to be a shade they called "terra cotta"—a beige-ish concoction blended from a variety of leftover paints.

So, after applying two coats, I settled down as Louis began to carefully paint alternate slats of a picnic bench in a bright shade of magenta.

As he painted, he told me this story. But first, let me describe Louis. He's a big guy with a shaved head and a quirky sense of humor. Enough said.

So, the other day, he went to the California Dept. of Motor Vehicles to get his license renewed—and in case you haven't been through the drill lately, you're no longer going to get a driver's license renewal—you're going to get a "Real ID" card.

The process is similar but different. It's just another way the government can track you. Presumably it allows you to get on certain airlines with less grief.

Anyway, this enhanced process requires you to get on a sequence of lines that, depending on the day, can run one to four hours or more.






As luck would have it, Louis came on a slow day. "I was second on line," he said. "After 40 minutes, I was at the place where they take your picture."

"Then it was time for me to get my picture," He continued. "The lady behind the counter looked like she was having kind of a mediocre to miserable day taking pictures all day long. People just stand for the pictures, then leave. No 'Thank you'. No nothing."

"When I got there she said, "You're next. Take off the glasses, Take off your hat."

He put them on the counter. Then looked her in the eye and said—firmly tongue in cheek, "I want you to make me look beautiful and young for this picture."

"You want me make you look beautiful?" She said.

"Last night I put extra cold cream on," Louis began. "I put my hair up in curlers." As he told me the story, he ran his fingers across his shaved head. "So, take the picture," he said.

Once the picture was taken, he quizzed, "Is that the 'money shot'?"

She said, "I think so. Hold on. I'm rolling it down to give you some extra neck. That's it! That's the money shot."

"As I walked away, she's chuckling," smirked Louis. "I could hear her say, 'Hair up in curlers. He's put his hair up in curlers.'"

"I know it made her day." Louis said. "All day she's going to be thinking about 'Hair up in curlers. I put my hair up in curlers and wore my curlers to bed and I'm coming over here and I need you to make me look beautiful.'"

~ Al Zagofsky





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