Okay, look: You could almost say the Department of Motor Vehicles is what drove me to become a hermit in the desert. It’s not literally true, but the DMV symbolizes everything I find intolerable about life in “civilization.” Sweartagod I have never, left to my own devices, walked into a DMV office and out again with my business successfully done on the first try. I hadn’t brought a title, or my insurance was expired, or the chicken I brought for sacrifice was blemished or of the wrong color, or…something. These days I sometimes preen around like I’m this great freedom outlaw, but here’s Joel’s dark guilty secret: I’m really just a gimp who can’t keep his papers in order.
When I got married, one of the advantages was sudden access to somebody who loved all that shit. Say what you will about my ex-wife, when I lived with her I didn’t have problems like that. My papers and tax payments and all the excreta of modern life were kept so orderly I could order a renewed driver’s license through the mail and get away with it.
When I wasn’t married any more, dear god, then were all my sins remembered. I was no longer welcome in the great state of California within five years.
I’ve lived in the desert sans Government-Issued Photo ID for twelve years. So you can imagine how gladly I regarded a trip to the DMV. But it had to be done. Landlady has concocted an elaborate plan to get me back into legal existence – kicking and whining, mostly – because I’m starting to need an increasing amount of medical care, turn 65 soon, and really need (So help me god if I get one comment about this I’ll track you down wherever you hide and yodel Lovesick Blues outside your window for the rest of your life) to get on the government tit.
Yeah. She had to contend with whining, but I didn’t argue very hard. The alternative involves living with pain and blindness till I stick a rifle in my mouth and blow the back of my head off. Sit up at night with that a while, and we’ll see how inflexible your principles remain.
And that was why I found myself parked outside an DMV office about 50 miles from my home this morning, fighting down hyperventilation. The only thing that even got me here was Landlady’s assistance in acquiring (concocting, really) the last required piece of paperwork attesting to my existence on the earth. And the story of that acquisition is a hair-raising tale which will remain untold, since it didn’t altogether end well. Let’s just say I was brushed by the leathery wings of the Last Revenge of the Ex-Wife.
She basically babysat me through it. We even got our story straight on the way to the town – preparing an explanation, should one be needed, why this younger woman was helping this old gray man do something so simple as acquire a state ID card. And also why the address on that card was nowhere near that town. I was prepared to dodder, should the muse demand it of me.
But in fact there were no substantial roadblocks at all. We were in and successfully out in a record 45 minutes! And soon I will own an expensive little laminated card. My life will be so very enhanced thereby, I’m sure.