Mrs. Basrani, please have a seat here. Not you, sir, the lady. Well, if you’re sure she doesn’t mind, but in this country we always give up our seats to the ladies. No, we don’t think it shows weakness, we think it’s polite. I guess that’s an example of a cultural difference. Anyway, that’s not what we need to talk about.
Mrs. Basrani, surely you understand the reason we need to put your photograph on your driver’s license. We need to have a way to know it’s really you. You know, so no one can pretend to be you. It’s for your own good.
Yes, Mr. Basrani, of course that’s true. For ours, too. You know, Mr. Basrani, it is very difficult for me to make your wife understand why we need her picture if you keep on interrupting and answering for her. I’m trying to talk to her. You’re allowed to be present as a courtesy, but as long as Ms. Kendall is in the room with us, I am not required to have you here. Your wife needs to answer her own questions. So far, I haven’t even heard her voice. You know, it’s a funny thing, in my house, nobody ever hears my voice. My wife does all the talking. Maybe you have the right idea after all, Mr. Basrani. Heh, heh.
Now. Mrs. Basrani, I see that your license from the old country doesn’t show your face, but that isn’t the way we do things here. You do understand what I’m getting at, don’t you? I hope you won’t take offense, but if I can’t see your face, how can I even be sure you’re a woman? You could be a boy with beautiful eyes, you know what I mean?
No, Mr. Basrani, I am not implying that there is anything wrong with you. It’s just that she could be anybody, the way she’s covered up – which is just fine with me - I understand that women in your culture have to…actually, Mr. Basrani, do you mind if I call you Baz for short, since apparently I’m going to be talking to you a lot? No, Baz, I don’t think the day will ever come when all the women in the world will dress like that. Not that I don’t think it’s just fine for your wife, but frankly, I’d kill Harriet if she started dressing like a nun. No, no, of course not. It’s just an expression. You would? You mean if you caught her…But many women look beautiful in pants. My wife does. Honor schmonor! If other men have bad – your word, not mine - thoughts about her, that’s their problem. They can always get therapy.
Anyway, about that veil, Mrs. B - if you want a driver’s license, you have to let us take your picture. That’s why we call these things identification cards – we use them to identify. Surely you understand that we have a real need…well, Baz, in that case she should have applied before 9-11. It was a lot easier then. September 11th - you do remember what happened that day, don’t you?
No, mentioning 9-11 to you does not constitute ethnic harassment. You certainly have every right to try, but I don’t think you’ll get very far with it, not in this jurisdiction, anyway. Yes, we do refer to it as the Land of Opportunity and I suppose it might seem that way from what you read in the papers, but actually, most of us never sue anybody.
Mrs. Basrani, the plain fact is, if you won’t remove that veil for an ID picture, you can’t have a driver’s license. Tell me something – your passport has your picture, doesn’t it? If you could be photographed for that, why can’t you for this?
What do you mean that’s not her picture? Whose is it? Oh, I see - not her passport, not her picture. Well, that makes a certain kind of sense. But if it isn’t her passport, how did she get into this country? She isn’t here illegally, is she?
That’s true. We weren’t nearly so careful before September 11. We’re basically a laid-back people, Baz. If you don’t mind my saying so, I think you folks would be a lot better off if you could just learn to let go a little, you know, enjoy a glass of wine once in a while, relax. Life isn’t serious all the time.
Now – how about just a little smile for the birdie. You know, when my wife doesn’t want anyone to see her face it’s usually because she hasn’t put on her make-up yet. If that’s what’s bothering you, Mrs. Basrani, I’m sure Ms. Kendall here would be happy to let you use some of hers.
You know Baz, I don’t doubt for a minute that she isn’t actually going to be driving, and I believe you when you say she won’t be going anywhere without you. I don’t blame you. I often wish my wife didn’t drive. But she has to - how else would she be able to do the shopping? Sure, sure, what you’re telling me makes perfect sense - no identity, no need to identify. But I don’t make the rules. In this state, since 9-11, if it breathes it needs an ID card.
Now, Mrs. B., if you’ll just go behind that curtain with Ms. Kendall, she’ll take your picture. No man will ever see it unless you run a red light, which isn’t likely since apparently Baz here won’t let you drive.
Tell me something – do you know how to drive? We accept foreign licenses as a courtesy, but if you aren’t allowed to drive, how did you get a license in the old country? Can you drive? Just nod your head yes or no. Don’t look at him first.
Well, why didn’t you tell me she doesn’t understand English?
OK. Let’s just let Ms. Kendall take her picture. When the license comes in the mail, just cover it up with black tape so it looks like her with the veil. Nobody will ever know the difference. No. I couldn’t live with myself if I were responsible for your not getting into Paradise. Would that mean no virgins? Tell me – have you ever asked Mrs. B. how she feels about that? Just kidding, just kidding.
All right, look, she can’t drive, she can’t speak English, she can’t go out alone – Ms. Kendall, does this woman seem like a threat to you?
No, not to me, either. OK. You win. The veil can stay.