Warning: this piece contains strong language
“Ownay I.D., boys?” the bouncer growls, eyes narrowing, his face contorted in barely disguised scepticism and amusement. Our arses, as they say, are about to collapse. This is never gonnae work. My friend and I are taking part in that most Scottish rite of passage: underage drinking.
Not just nursing a sole bottle of beer at a family occasion or slugging from a shared bottle of MD 20-20 but a pint. An actual pint. In an actual pub. Until now, these establishments have been shrouded in mystery. However, first we must navigate our way beyond this gargantuan specimen of alpha masculinity.
Now we aren’t stupid, or so we think. We have come prepared. I recall the motto “Be Prepared” from the scouts group that I never went to. If I had, I’d be getting ready to earn the “My First Pint” badge. When it comes to drinking though, we are complete boy scouts. And the bouncer seems to know it. But as I say, we’ve come prepared. We do indeed have I.D.
Of course, it’s a fake I.D.
A fake ID bought for a tenner (a big investment when you’re 15) from a helpfully named website, FAKE-ID.COM. In my teenage naivety I didn’t have the sense to use a fake name. Oh, what fun I could have had with that! I could be anyone but myself, repeating a wish that usually comes up whenever I try to talk to a girl I like at school. A total lie. I never even try to talk to girls at school; I’m far too shy to even approach them without turning red with embarrassment.
One of the things my friend and I have heard about drinking is that it makes talking to girls easier. Naturally we’re intrigued. If we can say that “we went to the pub” at the weekend we’ll look like cool, sophisticated and, yes, perhaps even sexy people who all the girls will want to hang out with. The fact that at that age girls tend to be more mature and can see through such boyish bravado never crosses our minds.
“Aye, here ye go” I say, tentatively handing over my totally genuine identification.
“Bit blurry isn’t it?”
You get what you pay for. I recall when I first pulled out the I.D. from the envelope, recoiling in disgust at the clearly fake GENUINE stamp and the pixelated mess that was supposed to be my face. That’s a tenner I’ll never see again I thought at the time.
But before I even know what I’m doing, my mouth is moving.
“Oh…aye, I accidently left it in my pocket when I put my jeans in the wash” I hear myself saying, demonstrating a quickness of thought I never knew I possessed.
The bouncer gives me a hard stare.
He must know that’s a lie.
“How old are you, son?” he asks.
Shit! What year did I put on the card!? I can’t ask him to let me check!
“Eighteen...” I splutter, “…8th July 1985?”
The bouncer glances down at the card again. Surely the games up, I’ve said the wrong date I think. My mind races.
The trading standards are coming for me, the police are coming for me. My parents are gonna be raging. This’ll be more embarrassing than that time my big sister found a lad’s mag in my “European Landscapes” geography folder.
Okay…maybe not that embarrassing.
The bouncer gives us one last, long stare before breaking out into a smile.
“Have a good night lads” he cheerfully says as he opens the door.
We swagger up towards the bar, feeling the thrill of getting one over the man, the fuzz, the law, the establishment! Who cares if the poor guy at the door loses his job for letting us in? This is how it must feel to be a proper rebel we think to ourselves. At least until we realise that now we have to actually order a pint. This I have never done before and there’s another human we must navigate. The barman.
Though bar-man is pushing it; this person behind the bar looks barely older than we are. Hell, I would I.D. him for a lottery ticket. Nevertheless, this man-boy has all the power. Surely, he won’t fall for it?
“What can I get you?” he asks lazily, with all the enthusiasm I show for techy class.
Last night, I saw an advert on the telly for Guinness, so I chirpily order one – as does my friend – blissfully ignorant of why it uses the motto “Good things come to those who wait”. The pint takes absolutely ages to pour. I can feel sceptical eyes on me; the older, wiser eyes of the regulars burning into me. They know. Though, apparently, no one wants to be a grass.
An eternity (three minutes) passes and eventually our pints settle. We pay and head straight to a booth, giddy with the knowledge that we are breaking the law and getting away with it. We clink pints and take our first gulp of the black stuff. It’s rather good. Though next time we agree just to get a lager as it’s quicker and cheaper.
Later that night, we get the notion into our head that we should try and see if we can get into one of those nightclubs, fired by the confidence gained from our visit to the pub. As expected, we are asked for I.D. by the club bouncer. He looks at them and smiles. It’s all good, I think, smugly.
The bastard has just cut my I.D. in half!!
“Nice try boys…” he chuckles, “better luck next time”.