The policewoman at the Motor Vehicle Agency said she would make me look great. She must have read my mind. I was sick of having a drab face looking back at me whenever I took out my North Carolina Drivers License. Earlier that morning I had rummaged through a motley assortment of make-up supplies in my bathroom. After I applied blush, eye shadow, mascara and a bright pink lipstick, I left the house with a blue blouse and my best earrings. I was 70 years old, and I didn’t want to look it.

Government_DPMC-Motor-Vehicle-Agency_02_thumbThe motor vehicle agency near my home wasn’t busy. After I took the driver’s exam and vision test, the policewoman, short, thin and intense, lead me to a cubby in the corner of the room with a blue curtain covering the wall behind a chair. “Okay,” she said. “Sit up straight, shoulders back, big smile. I’m going to make you look great.” Had I wandered into a professional’s photography studio by mistake? She fussed at me like she had every intention of keeping her word.

I sat long minutes on a metal folding chair before the policewoman handed me my new driver’s license. In the picture my eyes were open and I had a sweet expression on my face. I did look great.

Like my husband, Ernie, always said, timing is life is everything. I wanted a good picture and here was a woman on duty that day just waiting for me to walk through the door.

“You did a wonderful job,” I told her.

As I ambled out, she called after me, “Keep all your drivers’ licenses so you can document the aging process.”

That did it. I would get older and my pictures would all be downhill from there. I decided to be proactive. Off I drove to the mall and marched into Macy’s cosmetic section where I balanced on a high stool while a pretty blond young lady slathered various cosmeticsliquids, pastes and powders on my cheeks, eyes and lips. Her enthusiasm and positive comments about my “good” skin soften me to buy a number of products that fit into a 3 by 5-inch cosmetic bag at a cost well over a $100. Not to worry, my husband would be appeased when he saw how beautiful I looked.

When I came home, Ernie was busy in the kitchen. He turned and looked at me. Nothing. Later we sat out on the screen-porch enjoying a glass of wine before dinner. His glance took me in. I was certain that my bright eyes, now lined with #10 dark chocolate eye liner and black lash doubling mascara would knock him off his wicker chair. Nothing. I put on the overhead light. “It’s a bit dim in here,” I said bending toward him, my face close to his. Nothing.

Finally, after we discussed various topics of mutual interest without so much as a raised eyebrow from the man, I said, “Don’t you notice anything new about me?” I smiled with #303 crystal pink lips outlined with #105 plush pink. Ernie’s face paled. He knew the ultimate test of a husband’s true love for his wife was his ability to detect what was different about her. Ernie stopped short of breaking into a sweat as he scanned me: feet to the top of my head.

“New sandals,” he said.

“No, I’ve had these for years.” I could almost see his brain shift to high gear.

“You have a new top?”




I decided to put him out of his misery. “I had a full make-up application. Can’t you see how beautiful I am?”

Without missing a beat, this seasoned husband of 40 years said, “But you always look so beautiful.”

I smiled at his response. Then I told him how much I paid for the cosmetics.


  1. Betsy Emerson says:

    Very fun post! We can all relate. I’ve worked in a school for 10 years and every year we have to have our photo taken. I admit to using the photos as a chronology of my aging process, with the first one being the benchmark. Some years I look older than others, so you are right, it’s all a matter of timing. On a good day, we can all look great, even without the expensive makeover! Stay young at heart!


  2. gretamatus says:

    Isn’t that the way it goes. “But, you always look beautiful” is the perfect answer. Nice story dovetailing the DMV photographer with the complete store makeover.

    I received a compliment last night from strangers when were leaving our table in a restaurant: “You have beautiful hair”. That reaction happens often from strangers. Most of the time I say, “Yes, it’s all mine”, thinking they’re wondering if its a wig. Last night I said I was holding on to this remnant of my younger days……but, I said to look at my husbands hair (he does have remnants of a good head of hair and a beard as well) I asked them to please tell him as well. They were good sports and fun people so it was a comfortable fleeting interchange.

    It is interesting how “looks” are important. I remember seeing a documentary about infants responding positively to pretty faces versus a not so glamorous visage. Strange animals are we.


    Sent from my iPad


  3. Joan Moore says:

    Love it! I caught myself smiling while reading. Writers are definitely in a “helping” profession.For many years you helped so many in your nursing career-now you’re helping others with your stories. Thank you!


  4. Jane VDV says:

    I am laughing out loud! Beautifully, typical, loving response from husband of many years. I have one of those too! Thanks for sharing this story.


  5. Lois Roelofs says:

    Too funny! I just had my photo taken for a state ID. With my dreadful driver’s license photo in hand, I was determined to look my best for this new picture.. But, no luck. So I’m stuck until 2018 and don’t think cosmetics will help. Gottal love your hubby’s response!


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