|Posted on April 17, 2013 at 6:45 PM|
I swung into a gas station recently to pick up the kind of treat that you have to be old enough to vote in order to purchase. It's a relatively simple task, one that's by no means unique or that requires the cashier to even make eye-contact with you.
The nice lady said, "I need to see your I.D., Hun." Dutifully, I handed it over.
I've seen people get all kinds of pissy about being carded, but it's never been the kind of thing that bothered me. Except when the junior with bad skin refused to sell me a ticket to a midnight showing of 'Showgirls' until I handed over my license back in '96. Of course, I was about to watch a terrible movie in the middle of the night in a theater that used to be someone's house just because I wanted to see Jesse from Saved by the Bells' boobs, so I wasn't in any position to feign righteous indignation.
She bent it, looked at it from a few different angles, scanned in through the credit card thingy on her register, and handed it back. "You've got one of those faces, you look young." She smiled at me, I smiled back. "You're a baby-face," she added.
I wasn't sure if she was teasing me so I just laughed and said, "If that’s a compliment, I'll take it."
Now, I don't get embarrassed easily and this was nowhere near the outskirts of my comfort zone. But when she called for back-up, things got awkward. Not for me, mind you, but there was a definite weirdness.
She looked past me and said, "Hey Britney, doesn't he look like a baby-face?" She turned back to me and continued, "Turn around, honey, so she can see your face."
As a rule I like to stay open to new adventures and, it's been my experience, some of the best stories occur when you least expect them. Like, for example, the time a friend and I went to the theater to watch the 'Brady Bunch' movie (it occurs to me now that I watch a lot of really bad films). After the flick, which was a late show, we went to McDonald's for a late night snack because that was before my body lost the ability to efficiently process fast food. We noticed an older fella in a trench coat pacing back and forth through the restaurant, but figured he was just a harmless old loon. I went to the bathroom quick while my friend took our food to a hopefully-clean-enough-to-eat-off-of table. The old guy noticed me heading for the men's room and quickly fell in line behind me. It was odd, but, like I said, I have a pretty high tolerance for that sort of thing. As soon as I walked into the room, I knew there was a doing's afoot. There were at least 50 little green Army men and a dozen random G.I. Joes lined up on the sink and on every flat surface of the urinal. He gave me a glare like we were gonna have trouble so, thinking quickly, I said, "Permission to pee, Sir?" He looked me over slowly, nodded, said, "Granted," then turned to the commode and said, "At ease, men." And that's how my diplomatic skills prevented a border war in a McBathroom.
I turned around and saw a cute, but forgettable, blonde who couldn't have been a day over nineteen. She was squatting, refilling the chip rack, and looking like she wished she was wearing Doritos camo. This girl was honestly at a loss for words. I don't know anything about her, but I'm going to take a leap and say that, between "Likes" and gum-smackin' "Y'knows," she's probably rarely wordless.
I turned back to the first cashier and she said, "How old are you honey?"
"I'll be 37."
"Bullshit. Britney, would you guess he was 37?"
For the record, when you get asked a question like this and find yourself in the spotlight, the correct response is to answer in the extreme. She should have said, "Oh, goodness no. I think we might have had a class together, as a matter of fact." It's just like when racist old men complain about that dirty Kenyan Obama at the ol' fishin' hole. I always respond by saying something like, "Damn straight, he's fuckin' awful. He keeps it up and he's likely to find loyal patriots like yourself rising up and giving him a good old fashioned blanket party, just like the Constitution demands." They get an answer they think they like, but they can never be quite sure whether I'm serious or not.
I turned back to Britney, who was now bright red. I'm sure anyone who remembers dial-up might as well be a hundred as far as she's concerned. Incidentally, was anyone named "Britney" before 1990? It's the kind of dilemma that only exists in the minds of overly-earnest young people who haven't learned to laugh at themselves: If she said that I didn't look young enough to card, my feelings would be hurt, if she said I did, that would clearly mean that she wanted me to put a baby in her. She had no way out, so she kept quiet. She stuttered something and stared at a bag of Funyuns like it was Kim Kardashian's diary.
"Healthy livin'," I said as I pocketed my menthols. I may or may not have winked at her.
"You have a good one, Baby Face," the cashier called out as I left.
Once I climbed back into the car, I told my friend the whole story. She laughed and said, "So an old lady made you feel pretty and you got to embarrass a college girl?"
"Yup. Perfect day."
Categories: People and Culture