• Kaye Curren

Passports, TSA and Two Ouncers

Here is a piece of a chapter of my memoir, A Destination Wedding, A Mother’s Journey, about my daughter’s wedding in Spain in 2004 and my desire to see healing and reconciliation in a family fragmented by divorce.


I remember the thrill of seeing my face on my first passport. It was like opening up a whole new world. It was 1964 and I was going to France to study – first stop Paris. Judy and I took advantage of her mother, Isabel’s plan to spend the summer in Dijon. We were to sign up for French classes too, but when we got there we discovered a tourist lake and that was the end of classes. We learned more French sur le lac than we would have in the classroom, from young Frenchmen. But that passport in my hand was the first proof that I was a world traveler.

Now in 2004, my even narrower world is unlocking again. This time in Spain. I’m in my local Secretary of State office getting my passport photo taken. I smile big for the photographer.

“Don’t smile,” she says.

“No smile? Why not?” I ask.

“Since 9-11, smiles have to be no smiles. And take off your glasses,” she says.

“Why?” I ask.

She looks like she’s about to say, “What are you, two?”

“So security can read your face electronically. If they think your face is distorted, they will pull you over, and you may have to miss your flight.”

“Oh, I don’t want to do that,” I say, and I take off my glasses and do my solemn face, not a hint of a smile.

“ All right!” she says. We gottcha.”


“Kathy, my passport is here! Look at that face. Do you see any distortion in that face?” I had told my friend, Kathy, about the security face reader.

“Not a trace,” she says. “Frankly, I always thought my face was more distorted without my smile, but who’s to argue with TSA? How do you feel, holding that ticket to the world beyond?” she asks.

“Scared,” I say.

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