When I was about 19, I decided I needed a fake ID. Not some bullcrap made in some kid's basement, I wanted a real looking fake ID. I had to make a trip to Boston. I got a hot tip from a friend about a particular neighborhood to visit where they specialized in fakes. "Just wait around there. Someone will ask if you're looking for an ID," this person told me. Seems legit.
One of the guys that I knew from high school, Stuart (who was always up for something that could lead to disaster), agreed to come with me. He was in the market for a fake ID too, it turned out.
I didn't know how much money to bring, so I brought a hundred bucks. That was a big chunk of my weekly summer paycheck, but the idea of being able to buy beer ANYTIME I WANTED was too powerful. A hundred bucks was practically cheap.
We got to the neighborhood, which was near a now regentrified section of Boston known back then as "The Combat Zone" (seems legit), and found our spots on the sidewalk. Sketchy ass people scoped us out. Stuart didn't seem nervous, but I'm guessing it's because he was no stranger to putting himself in fucked up situations. We decided not to stand together, since we thought that seemed more suspicious. He stood on one side of the street and I stood on the other.
Eventually, a guy who looked mostly homeless slunk over to me and in a very hushed whisper asked, "Fake ID?" I was shocked. How could he know that? It didn't occur to me that I was one of two fresh-faced white guys standing in The Combat Zone wearing pegged Guess jeans, a B.U.M. Equipment sweatshirt, and Samba soccer flats. I thought it was simply my lucky day.
"Yeah," I told him.
"Fifty bucks," he told me.
He held out his hand. I looked around, concerned that I was about to break the law in broad daylight, and fished fifty dollars out of my pocket. I handed it to the man, who started walking. "This way."
He started walking me on a scenic tour of the side streets and alleys of Boston. At first he seemed to have a destination in his head, but then his route started to feel improvised as we backtracked and doubled back on streets we had already walked down. I started to feel like an idiot, but I really wanted a fake ID. Maybe he was shaking the fuzz.
After about ten minutes of walking to nowhere in particular, I started to think maybe I'd been played. I meekly asked my guide, "Are we close?" He looked back, annoyed that either I hadn't given up or that he hadn't found the balls to just bolt. Then I remembered that he saw the other 50 bucks in my pocket when I pulled out his 50. He was trying to figure out where to roll me.
Eventually, he walked us into a Dunkin' Donuts. I imagined a secret door to a high tech fake ID manufacturing ring, but knew that nothing like that existed behind the walls of this donut shop. The place was crowded, and he walked us towards the bathroom.
"In there," he said.
"In the bathroom?" I asked.
"Yeah man, come on," he said, suddenly in a hurry.
I was naive, but even as a foolish innocent I knew that something was wrong. I wanted my 50 bucks back, but I wanted to get the hell out of there more.
"No thanks," I said.
I turned and walked quickly out of the Dunkin' Donuts. He followed me out, shouting, "Yo, where you going? You want that ID?" It was like the scene in Goodfellas when Jimmy is trying to convince Karen to go around the corner to get some Dior dresses.
"I changed my mind!" I yelled, like some kind of idiot.
I ran back to the spot where I left Stuart. He was talking to someone who was clearly a hooker.
"We gotta go," I told him.
Unfazed, he said goodbye to the whore and we drove back to NH. I told him the story, and he asked me why I didn't go in the bathroom. Like he would have. Shit, he probably would have.
When I told my younger brother, he taught me a trick that cost nothing. He put a piece of matte scotch tape over the year, and drew a new year in pencil to make me 21. Worked like a dream until I was legal.
Glad I never went in that bathroom.
I hope my kids live through their dumb decisions as successfully as I somehow have.