On Monday, I go to the Questura (state police) for the next step in my quest (pardon the pun) for a Permesso di Soggiorno (residential permit).
I have been really excited ever since I made my appointment 2 weeks ago.
That is, I was excited until I went to the local Kodak shop to have my required 4 passport-sized photos taken.
I'd brushed, primped, dampened and moussed my hair until it no longer looked like I'd slept on it.
Then I'd put a respectable amount of make-up on. A little of everything.
I'd even dragged a 'new' shirt out of my cupboard. These days, it isn't difficult for me to find an 'new' (i.e. recently unworn) shirt. I seem to wear the same things for days on end!
So I was feeling beautiful and confident when Stu dropped me off outside the Kodak shop then drove away to find a parking space.
I still felt beautiful and confident when I walked into the shop and asked for some passport photos.
I felt truly beautiful and hugely confident when I sat on the little stool, looked at the camera and arranged my expression.
It was only when she showed me the photos she'd taken that my confidence fell on the floor, rolled away and hid in the corner.
It seemed that my face was even only in its lopsidedness! My eyes were on different levels. My eyebrows were shaped differently. My lips were full at one end and narrow at the other. And on one side, they followed a wrinkle that ran down between my chin and my jowel. I was completely and utterly crooked.
She must have seen the same sad signs of ageing because she offered to take more photos.
I settled again on the stool, this time arranging my face so that it FELT crooked. I assumed a surprised expression on the right hand side of my face in order to even up my eyes. I puffed out my lips on the side where they appeared too narrow. I squinted on one side so that the cheek would lift and flatten the wrinkle and thereby raise my sagging lip. To top it all off, I then attempted a very subtle smile. I felt like I'd just had a Botox treatment.
She showed me the new photos.
Unfortunately I was still crooked but now in a different direction. And all my efforts to improve on the earlier photos had simply made me look severely retarded.
Not wanting her to think me too vain, I chose one of them, then waited for her to process 4 copies for me.
Stu walked into the shop while I was waiting.
'How did it go?', he asked.
'I'm the ugliest person in the world', I replied.
He ignored me.
Shortly after, the woman came out with 4 photos in a little plastic pocket. She opened the pocket and invited me to view the final result but I didn't dwell too long. Probably a total of 1.25 seconds. I just wanted to get out of the shop before she realised how ugly I was.
Out on the street, I stopped to have a better look.
It was then that I saw it. I looked away. I brought the pocket closer to my face. I re-focused. It was then that I was sure.
I had a red spotty rash on my neck and chest!
'What the hell is THAT!?', I yelled at Stu.
He brought the photo up to his face and squinted.
'Ha ha! The resolution must be wrong or else that woman's got some pretty low quality processing equipment!', he said, 'It looks like you've got some terrible disease! I wonder if the Italian authorities will let you in looking like THAT!?'.
He was hysterical.
If the police at the Questura look the least bit doubtful about my 'disease', I have determined to bare my chest to them...