Recently, I went to the Motor Vehicle Division to get an Arizona driver's license, and, much to my surprise, it was a smooth and painless procedure. Even with my expired out-of-state license, I was in and out of there in about an hour, new license in hand. No test; no eye chart; just a little waiting. My heavily digitized signature looks more like "Darryl Krebbs" than "David Kish," but I couldn't be happier with my license photo. Again: surprising. There I am pictured with a nice big smile, ready to impress any future cop who may hold my fate in his or her hands.
Folks in Virginia no longer have that luxury: the luxury of smiling for a driver's license photo, that is. According to The Washington Post, new security technology requires potential drivers to maintain a "neutral expression" for the photo; no teeth may show. Virginians must pose as if they are having a mug shot taken.Their new state slogan may as well be: "Virginia is for Frustrated Lovers."
I never got a license in Virginia, but I have held licenses from five states, including Pennsylvania, where I somehow passed the road test in a 1963 Chevy Impala. I remember weaving between cones in that boat, and how the officer next to me wildly swayed back and forth in the sofa-sized bench seat. (I also remember the transmission falling out at my senior prom, and my uncle towing my date and I home with his gas-company truck! Damn that beautiful car!)
The California written exam was truly absurd; I nearly failed it. (Aren't tests always absurd when you nearly fail them?) Most of the questions were about child seats, and all of them were so extreme in their safety-obsession that it was really hard for a reasonable person to guess the right answer. For example, if the question were: When driving 45 mph on a wet road, what distance should you keep between you and the car in front of you? Then the answer, of course, would be E) At least two states. I managed to acquire that California license, which was good, because in California, driving is more of a duty than a privilege.
Shortly thereafter, L.A. High School gangsters stole a car, went for a joy ride and crashed in my front yard. When the cops came, my neighbors and I all clammed up. I remember thinking, that would have been a much more useful question: When gang members crash in your front yard, what should you do? A) Give the cops a detailed description including which way they ran. Or, B) Shut the hell up. Seriously, the safer answer is B!
Remarkable specimens from private collections, and the unique stories about finding them, are featured in an exhibit… More