Illustration by Ariana Gonzalez/The Pioneer
When the magical age to legally buy what I’ve already been drinking since middle school finally came upon me this April, it was as if the magic in it had disappeared.
I always felt so anxious every time I’d walk into a liquor store with a friend to buy beer, partly because I didn’t know what to expect if we got caught. But partly because in the past I’d been asked to show my I.D. even though I wasn’t buying anything, and was refused service. And apparently I don’t even look 18: not one liquor store or gas station has failed to card me for cigarettes.
With all this in mind, I never tried to just walk in and buy my bottle of Jack. I would search through my contacts, try to remember who was at least 21 and if they were nearby to make my purchase. I’m sure I speak for countless under-21-year-olds who don’t have fakes and go through the same process: all of this is unbelievably annoying.
Of course I’d had opportunities to get a fake I.D., but the “Get your passport picture taken here” fronts spotted all over the city didn’t sell me at all, and frankly I’d rather use that money for the booze. At dire points, my friends and I could barely scrape together the few bucks needed for some 40-ounce beers: we are broke college students, after all.
It’s too much of a hassle to call up someone for an alcohol run, especially if your last-resort-contact for booze, who you don’t really wanna hang out with, wants to stay and drink. Or I’d rather also not put up with scolding looks from the randoms you shoulder-tap outside the liquor store. Like a couple of beggar kids, my friends and I have had to shoulder tap as many as 10 people before getting the wrong bottle from a pair of tweakers. All this time and energy was put into acquiring alcohol anytime I just wanted to kick back with a few brews. The struggle was real.
When the day came that I could legally get trashed, I didn’t even get carded the first couple rounds, which was the most annoying thing ever. After constantly being carded for cigarettes, I wanted to triumphantly slam my I.D. on the checkout counter. All too quickly, a lot of the magic of the big two-one dissipated, and it’s just become one of those things in which I think, “Okay, I can do that now.”
It’s only been two weeks since I graduated into real adulthood, so I realize it can be too soon to be over it, but two week’s worth of liver damage will make anyone feel over it, for now. What I am excited for, however, are all the concerts, nightclubs, bars, casinos and strip clubs that I can now walk into, legally. Even though the unnecessary drinks at any of those venues will be ridiculous, it’ll totally be worth it, just because I can.
It’s felt like an eternity to hit 21 ever since turning 18, and now that I’m here, I’ll try to slow down; since I’ve been warned about progressively worse hangovers in the coming years. And I guess it’s good news for another of my bad habits since California just raised the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21.
Ultimately, it’s that bit of zeal lost when you finally have permission to do something after waiting so long for it to come.