a strange invitation

…life rules
January 21, 2007, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’ve always struggled to develop a coherent philosophy on life. ‘Rules’ tend to appear as vague guidelines at best, and as a result, the closest I’ve come to consistency in this area is by reducing philosophical and moral concerns into easily recited soundbites. Don’t go to go to prison is one; I’m claustrophobic for a start, and possessing blond hair, a boyish frame, and being sensitive enough to branded effeminate in some quarters, I’d surely get all kinds of unwanted attention from hairy tattooed killers desperate to relieve the loneliness of a life sentence. Unfortunately, legislation preventing travellers from smiling on their passport photographs has serious connotations on another of my favourite, and more trivial ‘life rules’. When asked to pose for a photograph for official purposes (such as an employee identification badge, or an arrest record), always present the camera with a big beaming smile. I suppose that the mugshots of rockstars and movie icons has something to do with it. The soft focus and carefully manipulated images of stardom dissolve, to reveal dishevelled and unrepentant actresses and musicians grinning lopsidedly for the camera in the face of a minor speeding charge, or a barroom brawl. Where society expects a reaction ranging from stoic efficiency to admission of guilt:

Surprise them.

Give them an expression that lets them know that you’re not taking them entirely seriously.

The Guardian reports that the legislation, supposedly passed to counter the fact that the new biometric scanners employed at border controls are only able to recognise straight faces, are actually part of a ‘New Labour drive towards public gravity’. Something that will surely have me dressed in a chicken suit the day my passport expires.

Or would it?

After giving a particularly pleasing performance at The United States border when I lived in Vancouver, I confidently lit a reckless cigarette while I waited by our rented car for my friends to further explain what a carload of Europeans would want to do in The United States that wasn’t a threat to National Security. I barely had time to congratulate myself for so subtly subverting the system before an angry official brandishing an automatic weapon started screaming at me for loitering on government property. It was one of those moments that you could spend days afterwards considering which ice-cool reply would leave you looking like a hero. The situation was made all the more painful by my clumsy reaction, which was a result of me trying to extinguish a cigarette, put my hands in the air, and dash backwards into the building all at the same time.


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