My driver license renewal letter arrived in the mail on Thursday.
Enclosed in the envelope:
1) A card bearing my driver's license number that must be returned to the nearest exam station
2) A vision form for my optometrist to fill out should I fail the "free of charge" eye test at the DVM (what do people do, bribe their eye doctors to claim they're 20/20?)
3) The official Driver License Renewal Examination handbook
4) A 24-question multiple-choice written test.
I pitched the handbook in the trash. "Five errors or less to pass this thing? How hard can it be?" I said to myself. "After all, I've been driving for 36 years!"
I took out a Sharpie (oh, I was confident, all right) and eagerly tackled the first question:
If a large truck has a right-turn signal flashing but is partially blocking the left lane, you should:
A. Assume the signal is wrong
B. Maintain a safe following distance until the truck has completed maneuver
C. Pass truck on right and try to beat him to the intersection
Since there was no option D, such as "Lay on your horn, hang out the window and scream, 'Move it or lose it, Buster,'" I chose B. One down, 23 to go.
Pausing momentarily to ponder minimum safe following distances and clearance for bicyclists, I made my way through the exam, circling my choices with confidence.
(Handbooks? We don't need no stinkin' handbooks.)
Puffed up with smug self-satisfaction, I fished my current license out of my wallet and looked at the photo from 2001. "I haven't really changed that much," I said to myself, convincingly. "The hair was a little helmetlike, but all in all, I don't look that much different six years later. Good for me."
Then I did something I hadn't done for as long as I can remember. I glanced at the number listed under "WT."
I started to panic.
"Are you kidding me?" my inner voice cried. "Who do you think you're fooling? You haven't weighed that little since 1983! No WONDER those people at the airport snicker every time you show your ID. It's a miracle they never frisked you for one of those dynamite belts suicide bombers wear!"
"They do NOT snicker!" I argued. (But that might explain why the Mexican border agent kept giving me the once-over last spring.) "Besides, everybody fudges their weight a little on their driver's license. It's a given!"
"A little?" the voice laughed. "Honey, the fudge you're serving comes in 30-pound boxes! This isn't fudge. It's felony fraud!"
"But it's not like I deliberately lied!" I insisted. "I distinctly remember the last time I got my license renewed. The clerk took my expired I.D. and asked if all my information was still the same. I simply said, 'It is in MY mind.' She smiled, gave me that "I've got your back, sister" look, and typed in the number.
Uh-oh, I thought. What if that nice woman doesn't work at the DMV anymore? Worse yet, what if they have - oh my God, I can't bear to think about it - a SCALE next to the eye test machine? What if the Office of Homeland Security now requires accurate weight records on all U.S. citizens?
Then I really started to panic.
Suddenly, I caught a glimpse of the expiration date on my license.
"Hey!" I said to myself. "It's not for two months! I've got 60 whole days to lose enough weight to fool the examiner (one who will, hopefully, be extremely far-sighted)."
I placed the test in a drawer for safekeeping and pumped myself up. "I can do this! I'll jump back on the diet wagon and double my time on the treadmill. No problemo! I'll start tomorrow morning."
"But first, I've got the strangest craving for fudge ..."