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License Digital Enhance

Amended license.


I’m not curious in the least as to how I will look in four years. It helps to not really know what I look like now. I only glance at certain parts of me in mirrors – mostly to make sure there is no food in my teeth, and that my hair is having a good day. I try to be in the background, or look down, when a camera is in my face. I believe it’s tonic to have a light-hearted approach, across the board, when it comes to getting older.

How old I look is better reflected by how young I feel, and ultimately what I exude, rather than that stark reality offered by a mirror (Mom?). I choose to believe that I don’t look a day over … um, 43. My mirror-image will certainly fall short of my mind’s eye, so I try to not mess with my head.

So, props, and a, “Gee – thanks a lot,” to the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles (NJDMV) for reminding me that I’m getting older, and for giving me a hint, ala milk-carton fashion, as to what they think I will look like when I’m 62.

In November 2012, the NJDMV initiated a driver’s license renewal program called, Skip the Trip.

If you were born before December 1, 1964, you don’t have to make the trek to the local motor vehicle agency to renew your license. Which means, you don’t have to take a new picture. Which means that my last photo for my license was taken in 2007, when I was 52. My new license expires in 2017, when I’ll be 62. I did a double-take when I opened my new license that came in the mail. Through some DMV digital-manipulation (can’t really call it enhancement), they have, albeit gently, aged me.

I’m still wearing that jean jacket that I tossed years ago. Even though my 2013 hair has lost its red-and-brown hue, and looks instead like a bad, black dye-job, my 2007 perfectly-placed bangs have not so much as moved, much less grayed. But I see no wrinkles! Just one eye bigger than the other, a smooshed nose, and a set of hollow, saggy, sad cheeks. And all of me is more oblong, sallow, and encircled (eyes included) by dark, bluish hues.

I called the NJDMV. I wanted to ask them: How’d you do this? What parameters do you use to age someone? Is it a standard formula, or do you investigate lifestyle, income … gene pool? Do you have forensic artists in a back room? I could find no information through Google, or on their Web site, and after 20 minutes on hold, I gave up.

But it could all be part of New Jersey’s exclusive, nifty, new facial-recognition software (which apparently doesn’t work if you smile too much for your license picture), one of a number of states that employ this system for security purposes. Our driver’s license photos are now all in national databases for the FBI and the police. And the State Department.

So a sense of humor is in order here. I figure that when I really am 62, even if I gain 35 pounds, am all gray, with circles under my eyes as dark as Eye Black, topped with saggy, saggy lids, or, even if I have a plastic surgeon do some heavy lifting that makes me look laminated and waxy (like the shiny sleeve that now comes with a driver’s license), I will most likely look better in that driver’s license photo than in any other photo, and for that matter, than how I will really look. Rather than reminding me that I’m continuing to age, my 2017 driver’s license could potentially serve as a feel-good, pocket-sized rear view mirror.