Most of us have lied about our age at some time or another. Aged ourselves up to get into places we weren’t supposed to be. Aged ourselves down because The Patriarchy. For our very first Birthday Issue roundtable, we asked our writers to share a time when they lied about their age. How old were they? How old were they pretending to be? Why! We’d love to hear about your age-defying shenanigans in the comments!
Carolyn, NSFW Consultant
When I was three days away from being age 18, I was told to lie about being age 18 in order to go to a bar (the drinking age in Quebec is 18). I did not want to go to any bars, but I did want to try to make friends, and later that evening one of those potential friends projectile vomited across a table and onto my shirt and into the shitty bar Earl Grey I had ordered because I don’t like breaking rules, and none of those people are in my life now anyway so 0/10, would not lie again.
Heather, Managing Editor
I was the first one of my friends to turn 15 and get my learner’s driving permit and one time me and my friends convinced one of our dads that I had actually already turned 16 and had my real license and it’d be just fine if I drove all of us the entire 1.8 miles down the road to pick up dinner. My friends were so excited but I have never been more terrified in my life than I was during that three-minute drive to Tom’s Pizza and that three-minute drive back to my friend’s house. I hate lying. I am terrified of getting in trouble. I get sick if I’m not doing the right thing. I still dream about those six minutes and wake up covered in sweat.
I lied about my age from from about age 19 to 20 on most weekends for legal reasons. Well, technically, I didn’t lie about my age, I lied about who I was. Meredith [redacted] of [redacted] County, it was an honor to look vaguely like you in a small photo in that we’re both white women with medium faces and hair for the majority of my college experience. I don’t just know your birthday (April [redacted]), I know you’re an Aries cusp thanks to suspicious bouncers. I forgot your middle name that one time, but we recovered, didn’t we? I wouldn’t change a thing. Unless any cops are reading this, in which case this was all a joke and I’ve never lied about anything.
Valerie Anne, Writer
Well, I lied almost every time a stranger on the internet sent “a/s/l” my way back in the AOL days because it was more fun that way, but I don’t remember any specific times that either worked in my favor or backfired specifically. But I did go to college in NYC so I lied about my age for many an evening before I turned 21 with the worst fake ID ever made that bouncers would look at and laugh at then let me in the bar anyway. (With the exception of a 6 month period leading up to my 21st birthday because of what we not-so-affectionately called The Crackdown.) Freshman year, when us wee 18 year olds were new to having to obtain our own alcohol if we did want to stay in, it turned out I was the only one with the acting chops to buy booze from the liquor store nearby. Occasionally friends would come in with me but they almost always chickened out by the time I got in line. I don’t know what that says about me as a person, but it was nice to feel needed.
I started sex work when I was freshly 23 and then I… stayed 23. For the next four years. It was good to be young but not TOO young, you know? Like there were girls who were coming into their late 30s who still wrote on the website that they were 25, despite having clients who’d been seeing them for a decade. Due to the frequency with which my age was referenced at work, I have a hard time remembering ever identifying as 24, 25, 26 or 27, although I must have. 23 was a nice age to be for so long. Right on the cusp of possibilities! Still had firm cheek-skins and a positive outlook on life!
Laneia, Executive Editor
I’ve never lied about my age because I was too scared of being caught!! Also though, the beauty (??) of being a 90s teen in a small town was that any number of older friends, acquaintances, cousins, and sometimes even bosses (hi Phil!) would very happily provide me with whatever I was too young to buy for myself. Park Ave (the gas station on the corner, across from the library and courthouse) was known for selling cigarettes to teenage girls as long as there were no boys in the car with them, and truly any and everyone seemed to always have an hour to ride with you to the neighboring county (we lived in a dry county) to pick up some Jack Daniels for your SunDrop before the game on Friday. A magical time to be alive I guess??
I stopped remembering my age around 24 and have lied about my age almost day because I forget how old I am. Once I was talking to a potential date and was like “Well as a 23 year old…” and then 15 minutes later out I screamed, “I’m actually 26?!” I don’t know why I said that! I told a therapist I was 21 last year. I’ve told almost everyone I’ve met since I turned 27 seven months ago that I’m 28! I just have a bad memory and bad mental math.
I once spent an entire week in Erie, Pennsylvania using a white girl’s learners permit as an I.D. to get into many, many bars. I don’t know if the bouncers and bartenders simply didn’t care, if I got in because I was going with local drunks they knew, or if they were deeply afraid of coming off as racist if they questioned me, but it kept working over and over. The bouncer even scanned it at this one gay bar, looked me in the eye for, like, definitely too long, and then waved me in. I eventually leveled up to chalking and chalked my own actual driver’s license to look 21. This ultimately backfired one night when I was definitely actually over 21, when I was turned away from a bar I frequented by a new bouncer who saw the rubbed-away residue from the previous chalking and thought my ID was fake. ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES, I guess, sometimes…
I too lied about my age in AOL chat rooms quite regularly. Couldn’t let the internet predators know that I was who they were looking for! Yikes. Beyond that I didn’t lie about my age often so much as fail to let others know when they incorrectly assumed I was of age. Essentially I learned that via racial and fatphobic biases people tended to assume I was older than I was at first glance so if I was served alcohol or thought to be old enough to enter places with age restrictions I just let it ride.
Rachel, Managing Editor
I never tried to buy alcohol underage in my life, because I am going straight to Heaven when I die, but whenever rude older men who talk to me assume I’m much younger than I am (someone thought I was still in high school a few years ago? I was like 27.) I don’t correct them, because it makes men happy when they think you’re much younger and dumber than them, and at least in the context of very brief social interactions, they tend to treat you better.
Stef, Vapid Fluff Editor
I have really never lied about my age because I’m terrible at lying. I have absolutely zero pokerface and even when when I was like seven and my grandma tried to lie to a restaurant and tell them it was my birthday so I’d get free ice cream, I’d squirm until I came clean and ruined the whole thing. When I was a high school metal kid trying to get into 18-and-over shows, my friends and I got some dude in his 30s in a terrible band to tell the people at the door that I was his cousin and that his aunt would be really mad if they didn’t let me and my friend come to the show… and it worked somehow? “OK,” the guy at the front door told us, “but they have to stay backstage.” The band guy rolled his eyes and my friend and I rejoiced (in hindsight, someone really should have been keeping a better eye on us). As a result of this experience, I am maybe a little more lenient with underage kids trying to scam their way into shows now than most people might be.
This one is funny because it was I who tricked me about my age. I remember it crystal clear: at the gym, about to get on the treadmill to warm up for lifting weights and the thing asks me for my age and weight. I entered age 24 and I was NOT 24, I was actually 26. It was the first time I remember going, “Holy shit, I’m literally older than I thought I was.” There was also a while last year when I forgot that I’d turned 33, not 32.
I lie about my age all the time but it’s usually just when men talk to me. “How old are you?” I lie through my damn teeth and say seventeen every time. If I’m still getting carded and told I look like I’m my baby cousin’s age??? I’m gonna use that shit to keep old ass men the hell away from me. As we know, this doesn’t always work but this gives me further permission to warn everybody and they mama about his nasty ass.
In more fun times, one time I didn’t understand I was supposed to lie about my age was when a publisher in my community (who is doing such good work) wanted me to write and get paid and I kept saying how old I really was and he was like, no I’m pretty sure you’re a year younger, TRYING to help me out but I don’t get hints. Also, I used to lie about my age to get deals off the kids’ menu. Like, why would we pay an extra five dollars when we all know I’m about to get chicken tenders and it’s only an appetizer if I’m over twelve??
Vanessa, Community Editor
My birthday is in late December, so growing up I was always the youngest one in my friend group. That doesn’t mean much now, as a 30 year old with friends of all different ages, but when I was 20 and literally every other person I was friends with was already 21, it felt wildly unfair.
I had a fake ID in college, as almost everyone I know who went to school in New York City did, and it always worked. The guy who made it for me told me it was a “really good one, that scanned” and I have no fucking idea if that was true because in three years at NYU, no one ever scanned it. My friends are I were mostly going to shitty bars in the East Village that likely knew we were all underage but didn’t care so long as we didn’t cause problems for them, and it was not a big deal. The $100 I spent to pretend I was a 22 year old from California when I was really a 17, then 18, then 19, then 20 year old from Massachusetts was a great investment.
But then I took my fake ID to Boston. Everyone always said the bouncers in Boston were much stricter than the ones in New York, but, ugh, I wasn’t even going to a bar! I didn’t even want to drink! Here’s what happened: I had spent a semester abroad in London, where the drinking age is 18, so I hadn’t been carded in a minute and was feeling cocky. I was 20, and would turn 21 in four months. My best friend from high school had met this older guy at a bar who she was really excited about (and who, to be fair, would later become her husband and then the father of their child, so I guess he was actually special) and she really wanted me to meet him. There were two obstacles: the place they were going to meet was a sushi bar that served so much booze that they carded everyone at the door, and I had just had my wisdom teeth out. I honestly should’ve just stayed home. I didn’t even want to drink! And as it would turn out, there would be many more opportunities to meet this dude in the future! But I didn’t want to say no to my friend, didn’t want to miss out on what would probably be a fun night. How hard was a bouncer at a sushi restaurant going to look at my fake ID anyway, right?!?!
You know how this story ends. Anyway, it sucked not having a fake ID for the last four months I was underage in New York. Don’t try to lie to Boston bouncers, they are not fucking around!🎈