Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Open Letter to the Man who wrote the Baby Passport Photo Qualifications

This is not an example of a neutral expression.

Dear Sir:

I want you to know, sir, that I am no stranger to exercises in futility. I was an English major, hell, I specialized in 19th-century British literature. The second language I speak most fluently is pig-latin. I don't remove tags that threaten legal action. I blog one-handed. But, I have never engaged in a task so futile as attempting to meet the qualifications for a infant passport photograph.

Even if I manage to suspend my disbelief to grant that an infant needs a Canadian passport in this post-9/11 world, I still cannot forgive you for requiring that an infant passport requires a photograph. In three years, will the border guards be able to discern which two-month-old has grown into which toddler? What happens if her eyes change colour? Will our passport be invalid? In short, I was not feeling charitable toward you from the beginning, but did not imagine how difficult you could make this.

You obviously are a single man; you probably still live at home, in your mother's basement. She probably told you a stork dropped you on her doorstep. You may never have met a real baby. Babies, you see, don't really understand the command, "make a neutral expression." It's not what makes all those Kodak moments. To be fair, I have captured hundreds of blank expressions while begging for smiles. However, the professional photographer, strange studio, and plethora of clapping, snapping, clucking strangers really threw my daughter off her game.

But that wasn't all you asked of us. You couldn't just let me hold her. You specified no hands or arms holding the baby in the picture. You should try holding that neutral expression while someone has their hands under your shirt. Those hands seemed necessary, sir, because my two- month-old baby cannot perch on the stool by herself. She's slow like that. She doesn't hold her own head up consistently.

We might have managed your hoops had you left it at that. We had to come back for a second appointment because it seems the baby wouldn't make eye contact with the camera. Now don't think that she doesn't hold eye contact, because she's an eye-contacting genius of a baby. She just is particular. She doesn't make eye contact with strangers, five feet away, even if they say that name which she doesn't really know is hers.

Now after the second trip, after I WOKE HER UP from a lovely sleep, the baby gave it her very best shot and we emerged with two photographs. We had our priest guarantee that the photo was of our baby, he swore and signed it himself. We have respectfully (more or less) submitted the photograph and application.

The nice woman who took processed our information looked at the photographs and said, "Gosh, they may not accept these photographs." As I gathered my jaw from the floor to ask why, she said apologetically, "you can't see her neck."

Sir, the answer to that is simple: she doesn't have one. She only has chins which attach directly to her torso.

Yours sincerely,

Dana JW Telep


  1. Dana, this is unbelievable. From all you describe it seems probable that these infant passport requirement writers have never had babies, and were, in fact, never even babies themselves.

  2. i love and miss you terribly. And Katarina is so lovely even without a neck. I much prefer her side smirk here.