5 Lies Hollywood Taught Us About Getting A Fake ID
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.
You Don't Have To Find A Tech Genius To Get One
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.
And M is just the mom who comes over and does the laundry.
Movies portray the procurement of the fake ID as something you visit your resident nerd for. You make a trip to the lanky guy that no one hangs out with until they need a way to illegally get booze. That guy who "knows computers," because, for years, the only people to be good with technology were those that were radically good with it. You were either banging on a keyboard with a club and grunting or hacking into the government mainframe. And, thanks to '90s movies, I'm still not sure what a mainframe is. Is it a machine? Is it a system? All I know is that hacking into one looks like the star gate sequence from 2001, only with wires, scattered numbers, and guys who try to impress girls with an uncouth X-Men reference and a boner joke.
Or both at the same time if they're talking about Ch'od.
They always have an amazing setup in a dorm room that seems solely devoted to the creation of a bartender-fooling empire. To this day, I have no idea who makes fake IDs, and neither did anyone whom I asked about it, except for one guy I met who found someone that sold them in a flea market just outside of Atlanta. As it turns out, a lot of people get them because some guy happened to have a supply of them. Instead of having them tailored specifically for each individual, you just picked the one that best resembled you. You choose the one that, in a dark, noisy bar, looks enough like you that it doesn't offend the bouncer's intelligence when you hand it to him.
I don't remember the name on the card that I chose, but I do remember thinking that the photo looked remarkably like Elijah Wood. Hell, maybe it was Elijah Wood. Maybe, in some alternate universe, I'm reminiscing about the time that a guy saw this weird mixture of flesh and cargo shorts ...
... and saw the ID and thought, "Hey! Look! It's the same goddamn people. Carry on with the fun, Don't-Call-Him-Danny-Boy." Instead, he looked at me ...
... and looked at the card and realized that it was all an elaborate ruse to get me inside of a place where I could listen to Kanye West remixes in a crowd of drunk people. The group I spoke with did not go through this comically appropriate ordeal. They managed to summon up the wherewithal (and the adequately designed IDs to match this bizarre sense of assuredness) and made it into the first bar and many bars after. And I secretly hate them for it.
You End Up Having A Go-To Story For Every Situation
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."
The people I talked to also had plans and then some for what they were going to say if asked to validate their fake IDs with supporting information. They had entire backstories for their "characters." They didn't suddenly sport British accents, but they did have a response ready for any question that they might be asked.
"Before it comes up, I might as well tell you I have a pet llama named Jerry, was a
finalist for a spot on Jeopardy, and am heir to the Rubik's Cube fortune."
My main contact was a girl that we'll call Amanda for the purposes of this column, who stole the entire life of a friend. That sounds far more dramatic than it actually is, and what immediately comes to mind after you hear "stole the entire life of a friend" will make a great Sundance Film Festival entry one day. But Amanda did it so that she wouldn't have to tumble over her words in an attempt to invent something or be forced to sift through lies that backed up pieces of her real life. When asked about anything, she'd pick a corresponding point in a friend's life and describe that. It really happened, so she had a solid base for it. She didn't have to break any kind of logic in her quest for craft beer. It all flowed seamlessly.
If she ran into problems, she would occasionally bring up some kind of situation that involved her parents, as "parents" are the special authority figures that hold rank above all else. Bouncers and waiters were much more apt to let her in if she mentioned that her parents would be meeting her later. What kind of heartless monster would deny a girl a meeting with her family? It's the kind of moral reasoning that you bank on when you tell the guard of the dive bar that your family has a penchant for poor timing and meeting you in places that serve copious amounts of alcohol.
"Or am I an orphan? I can never remember."
At Some Point, You Can't Travel With The Same Friends Anymore
Aside from receiving a copy of the Ring Bearer's ID, nothing tips off a bouncer that something is amiss faster than finding age discrepancies among a group of friends. That doesn't mean finding out that the person standing in front of you is actually an immortal Sluggoth, arising to doom the world and get totally wasted while doing it, bro. This means finding out, as a bouncer, that the group standing in front of you is made up of four 21-year-olds and one 28-year-old that suspiciously looks like he's trying to unwind after finals. That is what happens when people finally age into legitimate, government-approved drinking. They toss their fakes and stick to the real thing. Sorry, youngest person in the group! I hope your goatee works out for you.
At least you'll look like the most badass kid in Chuck E. Cheese's.
A group of people with fake IDs is meant to give off the impression "Nothing to see here, folks. Just a couple of friends, all between 21 and 26, going out for some drinks. Definitely not a group of people who think that entering a bar confidently means not looking the bouncer in the eye and passing the time with useless, vaguely adulty conversation." A stray 21-year-old, freed from the binds of trying to "keep it cool," ruins this setup.
The people I talked to attempted to fix this problem by coming to the bar in waves. The person still using their fake ID would show up first, a few minutes before the rest of the group showed up. That way, instead of sticking out in the crowd, the only problem that the person with the fake ID encounters is the illusion that they don't have any friends. It's what Alan Grant described in Jurassic Park when he talked about the patterns of raptors. On that note, my article "5 Ways That Jurassic Park Is Secretly About Chug! Chug! Chug!" should be out next week.
Some Places Are Easier To Fool Than Others
When you get a fake ID, you're not going to exclusively go to bars. You have to eat sometimes, and since Taco Tuesday only takes place on 14.285 percent of the days that it should, you're going to be flashing that fake ID around in restaurants every once in a while. And, sometimes, you're going to be way too snuggled into a pair of sweatpants to even think about interacting with others, much less others who have recently taken showers. You're going to try to get your alcohol from a gas station or a liquor store. But not all places that sell drinks are created equal. There is a definite hierarchy when it comes to the ease of using a fake ID.
The consensus that I took from turning a group's fun night into a Q&A was that bars are the easiest place to slip into with a fake. Bars are based around getting people in and out as smoothly as possible and gaining enough clientele to reach the point just before the grinding of smushed-together bodies creates a fire hazard. And no one goes to various bars with a fake ID to just stand around without drinking. That's some sociopathic shit. They go to get trashed in public a few years before Congress allows. When bars need business or are too busy for the bouncers to care, they're more likely to let in the people who have less-than-stellar IDs.
"Look, just order something other than chocolate milk, OK?"
Restaurants are a little more likely to balk at your tiny piece of fib paper, as, while they're still in perpetual movement and need people to buy their shit, their standards are less relaxed. The second-hardest place to use them is at a gas station, a situation that often calls for distraction. Amanda would begin talking to the cashier long before she made her purchase. That way, the cashier wouldn't be focused on the standard procedure of trying to uphold the law. They'd be too busy dealing with sudden companionship.
And if it seems like too obvious of a trap to work most of the time, that's because it is. It's hard to have an impromptu chat with a gas-station attendant, or anyone, for that matter, without coming across like you immediately want something from them. Years of being approached by people looking to sell us satellite TV packages in Best Buy have attuned us to the fact that, any time someone is friendly for no reason, they're about to try to take all of your money. If they're not your parents or friends you made before the age of 10, they just want to fleece you. Remember that, Cracked readers. One day, your partner will roll over in bed and ask if you'd like hear about a telephone/Internet/cable package for $109 per month. It's inevitable.
"How do you feel about 13 mbps down ... baby."
The most difficult place to use them is liquor stores, mainly because there's nothing else to do there but buy liquor. There is no second option for activities, and once there is, I'll start bringing a sleeping bag on my weekly trips. When you spend all day holding up IDs to make sure that they're real, you tend to get OK at it.
Once You Get A Real ID, You're Screwed
I never got far enough into a life of crime and debauchery to have to worry about what would happen when I turned 21. As it turns out, I probably wouldn't have handled that very well either, because actually using your real name, age, and biography presents a few glaring issues when taken in by the people you've been drinking with for years. This first problem is HOLY SHIT. YOU'VE BEEN LYING FOR, LIKE, FOREVER.
As I discussed bars with the group who decided that it would be worthwhile to spend their Saturday night talking to a loud guy who produced a notepad from his pocket within minutes of meeting them, I heard a few possible destinations get shot down. Usually, people stop going to bars for two reasons. The first is that the bar doesn't fit their social standards. The second is that their social standards don't fit the policies of the bar. The group revealed that there was a third reason: You've been using an alias since you were 19, and people are going to get freaked out when you finally reveal yourself.
"Just ... just tell me the cube fortune was real."
Once you discover the bars that are lax about checking for fake IDs, you're going to spend a lot of time at them. So, when 28-year-old Martha from Illinois reveals that she is actually 21-year-old Amanda from Georgia, there will be mixed feelings all around. The tales of bar owners revealing that they were chill about the whole thing is in the minority. Sporadically, it just depends on how their night is going when it comes to how they want to deal with you, but reporting your use of a fake ID can lead to you getting anything from a fine to jail time.
It would be nice if every bar owner responded to fake IDs in the same way that the worst anime villains respond to finding a worthy opponent, saying, "Ah, I respect you, as you have presented me with the challenge that I so longed for." Sadly, we live in a world where someone sees that they've been duped, realizes that the duping could've led to legal problems, and gets mad about it. They won't even have the decency to challenge you to a ninja battle before kicking you out of their establishment forever. Fucking jerks.
So, the group moved on to new bars where no one knew them by the name on their fake IDs. They were putting aside their youthful adventures and shifting into the next step in their ... well, scratch that. Who am I kidding? They were just interested in finding another spot to drink.
Dark alleys and public parks tend not to card.
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For more from Daniel, check out 5 Things No One Mentions When Debating Political Correctness and 5 Ways Gaming Changes When You Start Playing As An Adult.