Blonde is still the hair color on my passport

    Today I checked off an item from my tedious, multiple-page To-Do list — some of those tasks transferred from previous weeks, months and years.

    Although neither an overseas jaunt nor a journey within the Americas graced my current calendar, the Siren’s call to pack a Duffel bag and take nonselfie photographs in distant lands rose from a gentle lullaby to a shriek when I noted the expiration date of my passport — my only official government document with a decent photograph.

    Before attaching an updated photo to the renewal application, I needed a good-hair day. Significant expensed dollars later — because blonde, not gray, remains my hair color on identification papers — I stoically sat on the uneven stool at the local emporium offering passport photo services in addition to its mixed merchandise of used sports equipment and infants’ clothing. The placement of multiple air fresheners near the well-loved but still usable sports shoes perfumed the air with an unpotable fragrance.

    The clerk apologized for the harsh lighting and his instructions to remove my glasses and tuck my hair behind my ears, explaining the post-9/11 requirements in fulfillment of facial recognition software now used in most countries. He waited patiently as I dug into my purse for lipstick. The resulting photograph did not disappoint. It carried an unofficial caption: "Do not take candy from this woman." I didn’t ask for retakes at $15 a pop.

    The application, along with my previous passport and a healthy-sized check to our Department of State, filled a Priority Mail envelope. Our friendly post office representative noticed the mailing address.

    “And where are you going?”

    “To the library to research countries with the shortest passport-control lines,” I responded.

    “Ah, bad photo?”

    Maybe I should have asked for retakes.

    Susan Jordan lives in Newport.

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