Fake IDs and Boyfriends

college in 1988
college in 1988

“They don’t check IDs,” C. said when he asked me to meet him at the bar. He was 22. I wasn’t far into 18. I didn’t tell him I didn’t drink and that I’d never been in a bar.

I convince my friend S. to go with me. She isn’t the type to get flustered if thrown out of anywhere. The December Indiana night is cold. S. and I stand outside the bar, but not too close. “Maybe he’ll come look for me,” I say. S. raises an eyebrow. “Just go on in,” she says.

“What if I get caught?” I say.

“You don’t even drink.”

I am certain I’ll get caught. How does he know they don’t check IDs? What if I get thrown out and he sees? What if I get thrown out, he sees, and he stays with his friends? “I feel sick,” I say.

She rolls her eyes. “You like him. Now’s your chance.”

I sit on the curb and she sits next to me. “I can’t do it. I can’t.”

“You’re such a dork,” she says. “You may not get another chance like this. Christmas vacation is coming-he might get back with her.”

I imagine getting into the bar and sitting next to him. I would impress his friends. He would like me. He would ask me out on a proper date. “Maybe he’ll come outside.”

S. shakes her head but doesn’t complain about sitting in the cold on a dark street. No one comes out of the bar, but a car filled with young men cruises by. They shout. The guy in the front passenger seat moons us. Because of the bar’s blue neon sign, S. starts singing Blue Moon. The guys are gone and we laugh.

I am certain that C. is meant to be my first love, but I stand up. “Let’s go home,” I say.

“You sure? You don’t just want to look in and make sure he’s there?”

I do want to see him in there waiting for me. “No,” I say, and I think that if I were a confident woman of the world, I’d go into the bar and he’d be impressed. Instead, S. and I go back to the dorm.

I do this a lot with my writing–do I want to go there or not? Several scenes I have cut and then pasted back in. I worry that it will give people the wrong impression. Or I worry that I can’t pull the scene off and that I’m out of my depth. Or I worry that while I think the scene is unsettling, no one else will–like thinking getting into a bar when underaged was huge and everyone else thinking nothing of it.

Have you ever written something that cost you a lot to get on the page, only to have your reader yawn? What was the big deal?

Another thought for this story–how does technology play into plot? How might my story here have ended had we cell phones? “I’m outside. What do you want me to do? …”

4 thoughts on “Fake IDs and Boyfriends

  1. you would have texted back and forth ferociously and still been unsure of what to do.

    When possibilities are endless, we can become paralyzed by them. that’s why we have gut instincts. Although, Dubya went by his gut instincts and look where we ended up.

    I trust yours much more. =) Plus, if someone has your book in hand, they WANT to trust you. They will give you the benefit of the doubt just to go along for the literary journey that you are offering them.

  2. Sarah

    Sometimes it feels like cell phones choose for us- as if we *have* to use them to engage or solve problems, even when we’d rather just leave well enough alone. It is a mind-boggling exercise sometimes though, to think back on how situations might have turned out differently if I’d had a cell phone at the time- especially those times when I could have called for help.

    It’s very hard to imagine that anything you’ve written that cost you alot, bored the reader. Has this really happened, or are you just worried that it will? Because I’ve certainly never been bored by anything you’ve posted here!

  3. You shouldn’t worry too much about your ability to pull a scene off. Anybody who frequents this site would agree, I think. As for what people might think of the characters’ decisions, personalities, and so on, again — readers won’t (if they’re reasonable) read them with you in mind, but with the characters. If a character thinks going into a bar (or smoking, or doing X or Y) while underage is huge, it reveals something about the character which isn’t up for reader approval or negotiation.

    (You do worry too much, period.:)

    To my knowledge I’ve never shared anything with a reader that’s made him/her yawn. (If it makes ME yawn on re-reading, there’s trouble and I try to fix it before passing it on to somebody else.) By the same token, I’m pretty confident when something just clicks. It “feels right,” and 9 times out of 10 it felt right in the writing.

    The other technology twist if you’d had cell phones would be like in the commercials, where the signal fades and leaves one party wonder what s/he might have said to annoy or hurt the other. For some reason this strikes me as a completely believable twist in any story in which “you” are one of the characters, and “you” would, of course, be the one wondering!

  4. II have written a piece of fiction that I thought was profound and moving, only to have people say, “huh? What’s this about anyway?” I don’t like when that happens.

    I avoid too much current technology in my fiction mainly because I find it boring. I suppose a story about blogging might be fun, though. But we all know that blogging is very exciting.

    The first time I went into a bar with a group of older friends, I ordered a beer. The bartender said, “What kind of beer?” and I said, “bottled.”

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