I had a fake ID for one day in college. And the night I got it, at the first bar I went to, the bouncer looked at it, looked at me, and said, “Sorry, bud.” He handed it back, and I panicked. Would I be arrested now? What would my parents think? What’s the best way to tell a judge, “I just wanted the thrill of buying a vodka cranberry!” I fled and dumped the ID in a trash can in the same way that someone, in the heat of things, would dispose of a body.
Up until the moment of receiving one, the only knowledge of fake IDs that I had came from movies, resources that have proven, time and time again, to be filthy liars. Movies tend to use fake IDs in the first act as a way to showcase a funny person’s general ineptitude. But many people use them for years, and this means that they gather a bunch of experience in the area of “Tricking People In Order To Drink,” the most widely taught college course in America.
I got mine when a friend named Scott, trying to decide whether the bill of his hat should go straight back or a bit to the side, asked me, “You want to get a fake ID today, Danny boy?” He asked me this with the same tone that you’d use to ask someone if they wanted to go to a cook-out, and his penchant for calling me “Danny boy” is the reason that we eventually stopped talking to each other. I nodded, and expected the next few hours of my life to be like a Q scene from a James Bond movie, except the British lab geniuses would be replaced by that one silent, headphone-clad roommate who won’t acknowledge you when you walk in. And the air of sophistication would be substituted with the faint smell of sweat, weed, and incense.
So, you have your fake ID. You’ve reached the point in the myth of your life where you go from awkward teen to rad teen (the stage that comes just before evolving into an awkward adult), and you’re ready to show off your newfound prowess. But what do you do when people call bullshit on you? What do you do when someone looks you up and down and thinks that you’re a lie dressed in an asshole costume? You start making things up.
Since my fake ID said that I was from across the state, I had planned to say that I was on a weekend trip to the town. Before this could take place, my fight-or-flight meter exploded, and I burst off into the night, hoping that no one would ever see me again. Lying has always been some kind of shameful improv game, but I’m far better at it when the prompt is “The scene is a drive-thru, and you are turning into a shark” than if the audience (some solemn guy in a black T-shirt) throws out, “The scene is that you’re in front of Murphy’s Pub, and you’re about to get a misdemeanor.”