21 and over

Working at a bar presents a surprising number of opportunities to gain new insight on people and my generation. This last weekend, I was reminded of what it was like to be 21.

Or even under 21. You know how it is, that feeling of immense pride when you whip your ID out of your wallet and hand it to the bouncer, knowing that you can finally enter a bar without legal hassle (or you have a really, really well-made fake ID), but still feeling that thrill of the slight fear you may still be rejected. Now I just get indignant whenever I’m even asked for an ID.

So last Saturday, a chubby-cheeked cherubian boy stepped up to the bar, looking mighty pleased with himself. He shyly thrust forward a neatly folded $20 bill.

“What’s the most beers I can get for this?” he asked, holding the bill up high and waving it at me at a very specific angle.

“Two,” I replied.

“Okay!” he declared, looking triumphant. When he beamed, his chubby cheeks glowed, pink as a rose. “Give me two of the strongest beers you have.”

“Um,” I said, biting my lip. “You know it’s just beer?”

“I dunno,” he responded, instantly faltering. “I just want to get fucked up.”

“Mm, between you and me,” I said encouragingly, moving to grab some shot glasses. “I’d recommend getting shots instead.”

“Like of what?” he asked, wide-eyed.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “Vodka, maybe?”

He shook his head vigorously. “Shots don’t do shit for me,” he pouted. “It’s all about beer!”

“Again, it’s b…,” I was about to reiterate, then faltered when I saw his pout grow… poutier. I sighed. “Err, alright, how about… Heinekens?”

Pout bloomed into a beam again.

I brought over the two Heinekens, uncapped them and set them on the bar in front of Chubby Cheeks. “That’s $18,” I told him, holding out my hand for his bill.

He placed the bill gently in my hand, staring intently at his own fingers as they went through the act of doing so. I went ahead and rang up his purchase then momentarily returned with his change.

He accepted the $2, then very deliberately placed the two bills on top of the lime/lemon slice holder and slid them toward me. Then, summoning his courage, he suddenly puffed out his chest and looked directly in my eyes.

“Noona!” he said loudly, cheeks turning red. “You’re REALLY pretty.

I resisted the urge to go “Awww” and instead smiled as sweetly as I could. “Why, thank you, sweetie,” I returned.

He spun on his heels and went skipping off into the crowd, rosy cheeks glowing.

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