Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Every once in a while, I break loose from my conventional, Middle-American suburban existence and do something completely unexpected. It’s the only way to keep the adrenaline flowing.

That’s why I took action today, an action without precedent - at least, in my recent experience. I renewed my Georgia driver’s license a full two weeks before it expired. Woo-Hoo!

Georgia driver’s licenses formerly were issued for four-year terms, with the expiration date on the holder’s birthday. That actually makes sense - a rarity amongst licensing regulations - because it means that the flow of people seeking renewals is fairly steady. You can imagine what the rush at the tag offices was like in the bad old days when all vehicle registrations in the state expired on the same day. Now your vehicle registrations and your DL expire on your birthday, which means that (1) you’ll be more likely to remember when to renew, and (2) there’s less likely to be a line of frustrated wanna-be motorists a quarter-mile long. And with Georgia’s ad valorem taxes on vehicles (which make the annual registration renewal an expensive ordeal), it’s like getting a birthday present in reverse…

“Say, it’s my birthday. Here’s a check for $250. Can my license plate read ‘GO FCK URSLF’?”

But back to the Driver’s License. We’ve been back in the greater Atlanta area for a little over eight years, which means this is the second time I’ve had to renew. It’s ridiculously easy - in fact, it can be done over the Internet, no eye test required, as long as there’s no change of address. And now, you can renew for a term of five years ($20) or ten years ($35) - your choice.

I decided to brave the crowds and go in to the Driver’s Services office to renew. My rationale? The photograph on my license is already eight years old. If I renew for ten years, the photo will be eighteen years old when the new license expires in 2016.

The old photo is OK, but it shows a bearded Elisson. This year’s model is clean-shaven and wears, thanks to the depredations of age, a pair of eyeglasses with progressive lenses. (Progressive used to refer to a kind of politics - or jazz - but these days, it’s the non-bifocal bifocal.) Having a more recent photograph will help me avoid some of the stupider questions that pass for small talk these days:

Dumb Fuck Behind Counter: “Shaved the beard, huh?”

Me: “Yeah. What gave it away?”

Fortunately, the wait for my new license was downright reasonable. I answered a few useless questions, plunked down my $35, and smiled for the camera in my usual tight-lipped semi-serious Official Documents way. And no, I did not wear my Panama hat.

Ten years. That’s an awfully long time until the next renewal. Like a frickin’ passport. Wonder what I’ll look like for the next one? I guess anything that doesn’t involve the descriptive terms “skeletal remains” or “moldering, necrotic flesh” will be plenty good.

Oh, I suppose you’re expecting a poem, too, eh? OK, here ya go:

Elisson went to the office,
To renew there his License to Drive.
The damn thing is good for a decade -
When it runs out, will El be alive?

There’s a lot that can happen in ten years:
Disasters, diseases, and such.
It seems like a bit of a gamble,
Staying ’way from the Grim Reapist’s touch.

But it’s thirty-five bucks, not a hundred,
So Elisson says, “What the fuck?
Who cares if it’s risky? Just bring me some whiskey.
For once, let’s try pressing my luck!”

Update: Ask and ye shall receive...

The New Driver’s License d’Elisson.

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