When my wife, P, was 21 years old, an incident happened at a nightclub over which she sulked for quite some time. We were with a bunch of friends, ready to enter the establishment for a night of fun, when the bouncer asked for proof of age from each and every one of our entourage. This led to a round of bashful giggles, especially among the female members of our group, who were all well over the 18 age limit.
The bouncer was paying real detailed attention to every single driver’s license,
occasionally fixing his gaze on its bearer, just to make sure, say, a Vanessa Vukadinovic on the card wasn’t accompanied by a Vanessa Chen in person, or a Jamal Mutombo on the photo wasn’t being carried by someone who looks more like Johan Johansson. When it was finally P’s turn, instead of asking for her ID, the bouncer just said: “Straight through, please. Enjoy“.
In hindsight, I really wished I had secretly slipped the bouncer a $20 note on that night and quietly pleaded with him to check my future-wife-to-be’s proof of age. This is because, for a good couple of months after that incident, P took serious offence to the whole thing and simply could not fathom why she wasn’t asked about her age.
“Can you believe it? I mean how rude was that? I look younger than all the girls here and yet he asked for their IDs and not mine?“, she complained repeatedly that night.
“Seriously, he even asked some of our guy friends for IDs but, for me, it was: ‘straight through'”!, Straight through, he says!“, she blurted out incredulously the next day while we were in the car driving somewhere.
“Really, don’t you think I look younger than 21? Don’t you think I could pass for 18? ‘Straight through’ he says!“, she exclaimed out of the blue a few weeks later still, while we were playing putt-putt.
Being an insensitive cave-man, I never really understood why she was making such a mountain out of a mole-hill. I mean, she WAS 21 at the time and perhaps she DID look 21 to the bouncer. Of course, I didn’t share this view with her, lest risking another month of barrage from her about the indignity of the episode.
Last Sunday, I visited one of my favourite shops. It’s called Dan Murphy – essentially a alcohol mega-mart which stocks an incredible range of wine, beer and spirits. The euphoria I get from entering that premise would be equivalent to what my wife experiences when she sets her foot inside a leather furniture store, or how my boys would feel if they ever visit Lego-land. It also has these tasting areas where I get to enjoy a tipple of the latest Johnny Walker Platinum or a sip of the finest Penfold reds.
On this particular day, after free-sampling some expensive wines and then filling up my trolley mostly with bottles of not-so expensive clean-skins, I joined the queue at the checkout. There were three groups of people in front of me. The check-out woman asked the first bunch of three guys for their IDs. Then she asked the next person, another guy, for his proof of age. Next was a couple directly in front of me who were also requested to produce their drivers’ licenses.
It was then my turn.
No asking for my ID. No looking at me up and down. Just a nonchalant “That will be $132. Cash or credit card, sir?“. ‘SIR’ SHE CALLS ME!!!
Granted, I AM 39 and I DO have some physical strains on my face to show that I’m married and have two young kids. But I was wearing a fancy baseball cap, sporty sunglasses, a pair of brand new Onitsuka Tiger and a RVCA tank-top (which my wife unkindly says I wear to show off my biceps – an accusation that is blatantly not true because I wear it show off my deltoids, whatever the heck they are).
Still, all this didn’t count for jack-shit because the checkout woman simply passed me through, without even a glance. What made it worse was, she promptly asked the man behind me for his ID, and he was in a suit! On a Sunday! AND DID I MENTION THAT SHE CALLED ME ‘SIR’?
The indignity of it all!
I was on the verge of filing a complaint to her manager. But I thought better of it, as I was pretty sure there was nothing in the work manual that compels a check-out employee to ask a pathetic middle-aged man for his ID, even if he ridiculously tries to look young by wearing inappropriate youth attire.
Of course, I realise that I was just being terribly silly. It is one thing for a 21 year-old girl to be offended for not being looked upon as a late teenager. But it is downright preposterous for a 39 year-old fart to get all worked up into a lather for the same reason!
Perhaps the time has come to grow up. Maybe it’s time to stop behaving like a juvenile teenager and start acting my age. And maybe, just maybe, it’s time to admit to myself that I wear a baseball cap, not to exude flair, but to hide the fact that I’m beginning to lose hair.
Keep on pounding.