As a senior in high school, I was extremely restless and ready to move on to the next stage in my life. The upcoming challenge of relocating to a new city to make new friends caused me to salivate my way through twelfth grade. I didn’t want to be High School Brantley anymore. I was ready to grow up and drink beer and get laid and be College Brantley.
Exacerbating my mood were the tales that my older friends brought home from college. They showered my imagination with anecdotes proving that real life higher education is absolutely 100% like it is in those raunchy comedy movies. The booze was abundant, the girls were easy, and the drinking buddies to be made were the stuff of legend.
What I didn’t take into account was the difficulty of making friends in a new environment. My friends had an enormous advantage over me in this arena: They were all on their college swim teams. With a group of people sharing a time-consuming common interest already pre-assembled for them, they arrived on campus needing only a keg to begin making memories of the greatest years of their lives.
Needless to say, my friends weren’t pre-assembled and waiting with a 24-pack of cheap beer when I first moved into my dorm. I spent the entirety of my first semester of college lost and confused, lonely and envious of the my friends’ legendary nights of college life.
With few friends, most of which being fellow Pensacola transplants and none of which being over 21, I had a lot of difficulty procuring the ingredients necessary for the drunken memories that my friends were making. Luckily, my lumen as a visionary is only surpassed by my stubborn determination! The solution was so simple! I had to make myself older!
Disclaimer: I never purchased a fake ID 😉 The rest of this story is about someone else 😉 Even as an 18 year old, I had enough good sense to realize that fake IDs were illegal and bad and none of them should have my face and information on them with an altered birthdate that by math would make me 22 years old 😉 I’m only continuing to write this in first person for narrative continuity.
I thought back to a night when a friend showed me his ‘Organ Donor’ card. It looked very similar to a driver’s license, but it didn’t say ‘Driver’s License’ anywhere on it. Another strange difference was a convenient misprint of my friend’s birthday. He gladly volunteered the website that he ordered it from, and I filed the information away in my mind. Facing an unnatural freshman sobriety, the information suddenly became crucial to my pursuit of higher education.
It was time for me to make a meaningful investment with the hard earned dollars that I had saved up from a Summer of delivering pizzas. I looked up the website, filled in my personal information (including a birthdate four years before my mother brought me into this world) and rejoiced at the wonderful purchase I was about to make and the thirsty girls who would flock to my new ability to buy them alcohol.
There was one final hurdle. I had to pick a state for the ID. Each of the 50 states that united to make our great nation had a different card based on some unique factor about that state. I knew that I couldn’t choose Florida. Everyone in Orlando knows what a Florida Driver’s License looks like and would immediately know that my Organ Donor card wasn’t legitimate. I would run a similar risk choosing surrounding states such as Alabama and Georgia. I knew the safest bet would be a state whose population rarely found themselves ID’ed by bouncers and liquor store clerks in Florida. I figured the further away, the better.
My mind involuntarily leapt to my senior year Spring Break adventure in Anchorage, Alaska six-months past. I knew the trivia about the state, so the authorities could even pop quiz me if they wanted, which at the time I deemed to be a real possibility. I was sold! Alaska was the perfect choice! To ensure utmost authenticity, I even selected a real address (I chose one from a Domino’s Pizza in Anchorage) just in case an inquisitive liquor store owner decided he wanted to plug my information into his GPS just to verify that it existed (once again, I deemed this to be a real possibility). Alaska it was! My conviction was channeled into my index finger as it clicked for a mock up of what my Alaskan Organ Donor card would look like.
Next to a picture of a chubby teenager with shaggy, chlorine damaged blonde curls was the 22-year old’s height, weight, address, eye color, and other personal information relevant to an ID card. Behind the text, photo, and red heart logo paired with the words ‘Organ Donor’ was a gorgeous snapshot of a breaching humpback whale. One of the largest mammals on this planet, its body was 3/4 out of the water, and the imagination of any bouncer suspicious enough to stare at the photo long enough would inevitably conjure up the majesty of this great creature returning to his home beneath the icy waters of Alaska. The bouncer may even fleetingly daydream about booking an Alaskan whale watching excursion. The impulse would probably be fleeting, however, and with his soaring spirits returned to earth, he would look back down at the chubby boy with shaggy, chlorine damaged blonde curls and wave him into the bar, jealous of the gorgeous and promiscuous girls that would flock to him once he entered the establishment.
The click intended to formalize the transaction was ineffective. The webpage stuttered, reloading the same purchase page, with the same ‘Click to Purchase’ button beneath the mockup of the ID card. I clicked again. And again. And then 9 more times, before becoming frustrated and giving up for the night.
The next morning, I awoke with my stubborn streak ablaze. Technical difficulties couldn’t stifle me. I was going to get that damn fake ID. I sat down at my computer and checked my email, Facebook, and bank account. Butterflies brewed within my gut. The listed account balance was a $700-something dollars, but it had parentheses around it. I recalled a previous instance in which I over drafted my account resulting in a negative balance that was denoted by parentheses. Surely, that couldn’t be right. I dug into the account details to see what the confusion was.
If you found my memory of exactly how many times I clicked the purchase button to be a stretch, I’m about to tell you why it is a completely accurate figure that I remember to this day. The account had twelve consecutive charges of 100something dollars (not coincidentally, this amount was the cost of a fake ID).
At the time, I was baffled as to how an authentic-ish fake ID website wouldn’t have a payment confirmation page that loaded after your purchase and provided you with a transaction number. Once the reality set in, I understood that I would soon be the proud owner of a dozen fake Alaskan Organ Donor cards.
In a haze of despondence, one of my initial problem solving steps involved laying face down on the floor of a friend’s dorm. With my head hiding in the cave that I created with my arms to block out the harsh overhead lighting, I silently begged for this all to be a bad dream.
I don’t remember whether it was my friend or one of her roommates, but some glorious voice of reason told me to just contact the website and tell them that they made a mistake.
Everything was resolved with a quick email and the company’s subsequent response. I guess the Fake ID guys were truly honest businessmen. The card came in the mail, complete with the holographic imitation of the State Crest and something along the lines of ‘Official ID.’ At the time, I thought it would make my fake ID more credible, so I paid extra for it. I would later joke that it should have just read ‘NOT FAKE’ because it was the least authentic part of the ID.
The lesson that I didn’t learn that day was this:
I only used the fake ID once during my first semester of college. I bought a bottle of bourbon and nearly had a heart attack as the liquor store clerk admired the whale on my card. After several Fridays confirmed that the card didn’t have its own gravity to draw friends to me, I put less and less effort into establishing a social life, and soon I found myself alone in my dorm with the lights turned out playing video games.
That first semester was rough, but I was able to turn it all around in Spring 2008. I dusted off the Alaskan Organ Donor card and hit the liquor store across from campus to keep beer in my fridge and lure friends into my hollow social life.
Towards the end of that semester, I had accrued a stable of horror stories about cops bringing the hammer down on students with Fake IDs. On the mournful day that my ID was turned down by three liquor stores in a row, I put it in a Santa Clause candy jar and decided to let it collect dust again for a little while.
As you can see, I went more than a little bit out of my way to buy alcohol when I was underage. How did you get beer when you were under 21? Comment if you have any amusing stories!