The Fake, Iterated
Written by Bwog Staff
We’ve all been there. Maybe you never bought an ID, or you honestly forgot it in your room, or you used it so much that it got creased and started to look extra fake. Bwog’s barhop buffs take you on a journey of a chilly MoHi evening.
The Unfortunate Bar-Goer
It’s 1 am and you’re freezing. It feels like you’ve been in line since dinosaurs walked the Earth but dammit, you will go to this bar and you will have a good time. It doesn’t matter that it’s raining and that there are close to 999,999,999,999 people in line in front of you–this is what memories are made of. #college and all that.
The line lurches forward. You can see the bouncer in the distance, wearing the odd combination of sport-shorts and leggings. There’s only one problem: you don’t actually have an ID. You never had one to begin with/you lost it/it got taken by a certain Cuban restaurant that takes itself way too seriously (and, karmically, has something really terrible coming)–it’s a long story. Suffice to say, you’re getting a little nervous.
The line inches forward yet again. It’s been a long week. Your post-spring break batch of midterms played out like The Odyssey if you were that one guy who gets drunk and falls off a roof and dies. It…wasn’t the best. You deserve to get into this bar and blow off some steam with your friends. You attempt the Vulcan mind meld with the bouncer, but it doesn’t seem to work and you start plotting an escape route. This idea is seeming less attractive by the minute.
Three girls loudly proclaiming that they, “love you, you crazy bitch!” are let into the bar. You take three steps forward and start having a minor panic attack (get it? Minor?). Why is the line moving so fast all of a sudden? You turn to ask your friend this very question, but somehow it comes out as, “Do you think Insomnia is still open?” You get ignored.
As you approach the front of the line, it starts to lightly rain. You reach into your pockets to take stock of possible bargaining chips. You find: a napkin of unknown origin, a receipt for an obscene amount of pizza, two nickels, and–yes!–a 20 dollar bill. Now we’re in business.
Finally, you’re so close you can taste the secondhand smoke. Your friends hand the bouncer their IDs and are let in. You approach, sweating slightly. You hold out your Columbia ID. The bouncer gives you a look that clearly says, “over this shit.”
“This is a Columbia ID.”
“Oh! Is it?” You laugh nervously. “Weird.” Neither of you speaks for a moment.
“So can I see some real ID?” the bouncer prompts.
“Oh, oh yeah, oh definitely.” You pat down your pockets. “You know what? This is so crazy. So so crazy. But I think I left my ID at home. So crazy, right?’ You laugh again and attempt to slip your twenty into the bouncer’s hand, but it’s a lot more difficult than it looks in the movies and he’s not holding his hand at the right angle. You end up awkwardly mushing the bill into his fist.
“You can’t go in without an ID.” You purposefully look down at the bill in your hand, as if he hasn’t noticed your awkward attempts at bribery. “I swear I’m 21. 1993, right? My birthday. I was here an hour ago but the stamp must have washed off because I wash my hands so much, I dunno but it was there and now it’s not so…”
“Look, you’re holding up the line. You need to step aside.” Ice-cold.
You snatch back your twenty and snarl, “fine” in your most disdainful voice. How dare he uphold the law?! The nerve. You weigh your options: admit defeat, or charge into battle. You’ve never been one to quit while you’re ahead and tonight is no different; you decide to pull out your secret weapon: sneaking in with the smokers.
Fueled by pure vengeance, you take your place in the smoky cloud to the left of the bar’s entrance. Ten minutes go by as you lull the bouncer into a false sense of security. You give yourself a 10/10 for deviousness. And, at last, the moment you’ve been waiting for: a giant group of people walking into the bar. You duck into the center of the group and try your best to blend in. You’re doing it! You’re so close! You’re–
“Hey!” one of your friends waves to you from the back line and calls your name. “Hey! Oh my gosh I had no idea you were out tonight! Come over here, come say hi!”
The bouncer turns and locks eyes with you. He shakes his head slowly and your entire plan falls to pieces. You step out of the smoker area and howl into the night, like the animal that you have become. You walk down Amsterdam and swear at passing cars.
Fuck this. You’re going to go buy $20 worth of pizza and eat it in your bed.
It’s 1 am and you’re annoyed. Just as you were yesterday night, and the night prior, and every other night you can remember before that. It’s because these kids just don’t get you. No one understands. You swig some Muscle Milk and look out at the night sky. Your annoyance is frustration, really, frustration with your singular dilemma, though it’s part of your very human need to be understood. You’re the bouncer.
You tug at your leggings and check your watch before the next group in line–your line–approaches. You’ve seen them before, just some grad students. They get in. Another regular; she gets in. You make haphazard small talk with some of these people, and in some circles may refer to them as casual acquaintances, friends even–but when you think about it, like really think about it, man, you know in your heart that they’re not. Because you’re the bouncer. You tug at those leggings again.
But for a little while, your mind is somewhat numb and you feel fine, you’re breathing deeply, your checking of IDs becoming a chill, rote pattern. You think not of your disparate friendships with these thirsty patrons. Is that serenity you feel now? It might just be that big gulp of Muscle Milk you had fifteen minutes ago finally settling in, though. You can’t tell the difference any more.
To quote Patrick Swayze in the 1989 masterpiece Road House: “All you have to do is follow three simple rules. One, never underestimate your opponent. Expect the unexpected. Two, take it outside. Never start anything inside the bar unless it’s absolutely necessary. And three, be nice.”
Until he says, “until it’s time to not be nice.” And that time always comes. Every goddamn night. It always coincides with a drop in your blood sugar, always when you’ve just run out of Muscle Milk or realize that you forgot your Quest Bar at home. You feel it tonight when this girl approaches. Probably a sophomore, maybe a junior. She’s shivering a little and you sigh as she fumbles for ID. She pulls out nothing less than her Columbia ID. She goes on about how she’s 21. She forgot her real ID. She half-assedly thrusts a crumpled twenty at you. You don’t move. Your jaw flexes and that scary big bulging vein on your temple pulses a bit as you make eye contact with this kid.
This is what Swayze meant. You need to tell her to get lost. There are more girls shivering just behind her, and some people you recognize, even. But you’ve got to keep cool, too, or else.
“Look, you’re holding up the line. You need to step aside.”
She’s angry like this is your fault, like you’re the problem. You take a shaky breath and let the next few from your line in.
But that one girl…that one, she just had something in her eye, something angry, and you think of that now. It’s because she’s back, back and for real this time. Her eyes gleam mean. You do not underestimate this one. She gives it her best, stepping into the smokers’ cloud. But you know that trick. You’re the bouncer. You’re the bouncer, and you’re sick of this shit. So with one final dead-eyed stare, you send her off into the black depths of Morningside Heights at 2 am.
Your stomach rumbles audibly and you take the next ID.
Your worst nightmare via Shutterstock
Tags: bouncers have feelings too, bring on the muscle milk, the guy who falls off the roof and dies: us during midterms, the vulcan mind trick is always worth a shot, what not to do, when all else fails say fuck it and get some pizza