Right. So I moved to Maine.
Yes, I did. On May 5th. Cinco de Mayo. And at some point I'll tell you all about it. The whys and the hows and all of the rest. But not now.
I'd been putting it off, all of the paperwork. I'd called and informed the Virginia DMV that I'd moved a month after I'd... moved, and they'd sent me this very official and mildly threatening bunch forms and crap, and basically my license and registration was going to expire on July 21st was the gist. And despite the fact that I hardly ever drive anywhere anymore, which maybe I'll talk about at some point, maybe not, but neither right now, I really couldn't afford to be driving, if/when I ever did or do, with an expired, out-of-state license and registration.
So a few weeks ago I carved a couple of hours from my day and went to the Maine DMV, which, as it turns out, they call a BMV here (Bureau of Motor Vehicles - but the BM thing, yeah, that is pretty funny, isn't it? Except that, actually, they're pretty pleasant folk at the BMV, and so the attempts at adolescent humour at their expense come off pretty flat, actually). So yeah, I went there, with all of these forms and stuff. And basically I was just really worried they'd turn me away because I have this ridiculously long list of violations from the state I fled, yea, The Commonweatlh, and even if they didn't turn me away, I was afraid they'd make me take a written test, which just sorta sucks. It would totally blow to flunk a written test. I didn't like my odds on that score to begin with.
But they didn't do any of that. They were nice. And they did my license up right, and all they made me do was take an eyesight test, which I passed, even though it made me a little dizzy. But they couldn't do my Title and Registration just yet, because I had to go to City Freakin' Hall with my title ("It's an 'official-looking' piece of paper," I was told at the BMV Information Window) to pay excise tax, which is, I must say, pretty much in keeping with the state. They kinda like the taxes here. And at some point I'll maybe get in to that. But not now.
So a few weeks later, as the 7/21 deadline loomed, I had to find another half-day (or so I thought) to go to City Hall and pay my dues. Which I did. And it took no time at all, really, and there were no problems, except for this one thing I'll tell you about in a minute. Sure, I had to pay what I thought was a fairly ridiculous sum for my several-year-old vehicle for which I've already paid thousands of greenbacks over the course of a number years in the Old Dominion, and I'll have to keep paying here in Ye Olde Nue Englande, but hey... whatcha gonna do? So I paid for stuff because The State Says and I got more forms and some receipts and then I decided I'd go upstairs to the second floor to Register to Vote. And that's what I did.
I walk into the City Clerk's Office. I'm following a woman and her son who have just done the same thing as me downstairs. We've paid the piper. Now we want to register to vote. The woman and her son are helped by a lady behind the counter on the left. I hear the clerk asking the woman for ID, so I fish mine out as clerk #2, who has a nice little shamrock sticker on her nameplate (her name escapes me - Jenny O'Swillery or something) walks up to the counter and motions for me to come forward. I don't yet have my official license, but I have a temporary [piece of state-issued] paper with my address on it. I'm hoping this will suffice. Throughout all of this registration/indentification/taxey business, my worst fear had been that I'd be turned away for whatever reason - I don't have the right stuff, they don't like the looks of me, etc. - and then I'd have to come back later.
But Jenny's got my back.
Jenny: May I help you?
Me: I'd like to register to vote.
Jenny: Sure. I can help you.
Great. Now Jenny pulls out a little index card, highlights a few lines with yellow marker, puts a few "X"s next to stuff she wants me to sign, and pushes the index card across the counter toward me.
I look at it. It doesn't appear to be, I have to say, very official. At least... not very... "voterly." I see a couple of lines for address, and I motion toward the temp license I have laid out in front of me, ask if it will suffice. Jenny looks at it, looks at me, looks at the index card. Something washes across her face that is... I don't think it was outright contempt, but she definitely finds something about me... suspect.
This is the question that Jenny the City Clerk asks me: "What breed?"
What breed... indeed.
Now, since I've moved here I've picked up a little of the lingo. Not so much the accent, but some of the local patois. A basement is a "cellar." A speed bump is a "speed table." I could go on. Maybe later. Not now.
So I figure, okay, I've got this one. I can be a local.
And so I reply, in answer to the charge, "What breed?":
Democrat. ... ?
It's an odd way to refer to party affiliation, and I'm not sure that I want to brand myself in front of everyone assembled (all five of us) in the City Clerk's Office, but what the hey, really? I'm down with this. So yeah. My breed is Democrat. Always thought of myself as more of a mangy cur, exact parts unknown, truth be told. But you want to narrow it down, fine.
Jenny looks at me with complete befuddlement. And then, slowly, she shakes her head. And she takes the index card from me. And she pulls out another, and yellow-markers it, and puts "X"s on it. She slides it across the counter. It looks official, this one.
Jenny: I thought you said you wanted to register your dog.
Me: Oh. No. Um. Vote. I'd like to register to vote. Sorry. I mumble sometimes.
Jenny: Right. Fill that out.
Me: I will. Thanks. Is the temporary license good enough for identification?
Jenny: It's fine.
Things get decidedly cool. And then I have to ask.
Me: You have to register your dog here?
Jenny: Yes. You do.
Jenny: It's the law.
I finish filling out the form and slide it back across the counter. I am given a piece of paper with my polling place's address on it. Jenny is done with me. With my breed. We are finished here.
Me: Well, thanks. Sorry for the misunderstanding. I guess if I get a dog I know where to come.
Jenny: [Decidedly accusatory in tone] Do you have a dog?
Me: Absolutely not. I swear.
Jenny: Okay. Have a nice day.
[Slinking off quickly, tail between legs.]
In closing, may I recommend that you consider the:
DAILY REASON TO DISPATCH BUSH
And if all of this weren't enough for you, there are a few new photos up.
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