When I was sixteen I attended a wedding in Vegas with my parents. My mother and I were both invited to the Leopard Print themed bachelorette party. I bought a hat at a Vegas strip mall just for the occasion.
The first part of the night was pretty tame. We went to see some geriatric man perform family friendly comedy at Caesar’s Palace and rode the roller coaster at New York, New York. Then it was time for the mothers to retire so that the bride and her friends could have some real fun. Since I was underage I assumed this was when I should leave as well, but the bride grabbed my arm and held me back.
"You’re coming with us."
She promised my mom that they weren’t going to do anything crazy so I could stay with them. Then, as soon as the moms left, the bride presented me with my first fake ID.
It wasn’t “fake” so much as it was… not mine. One of the other women at the bachelorette party, Heather, had just moved from North Carolina to Michigan, and therefore had no need for her North Carolina drivers’ license, so she gave it to me. She was 5’2”, 26 years old, and a redhead. I was 5’6”, 16 and definitely not a redhead.
"It’ll be fine!" Heather said.
The first test came while we were playing the slot machines and a cocktail waitress came to take our orders. I tried to make sure that she looked at Heather’s ID first and mine last, so that she wouldn’t notice that it was the same name on two IDs. But Heather was so unconcerned she ended up showing her ID right before it was my turn.
My heart was pounding in my throat as the waitress looked from my ID, to me, and back to the ID again. ”Oh my god, it’s so obviously not me.” I thought. ”And it so obviously IS the woman standing next to me. They’re going to arrest me and throw me in Las Vegas jail. It’s probably inside that Pirate ship at Treasure Island. I’m going to die inside the Pirate ship at Treasure Island!”
"Okay, what would you like to drink?" the waitress asked.
"What kind of beer?"
"I don’t know whatever Heather’s having. I mean whatever I’m having. Because I AM Heather. But also her name is Heather. Such a funny coincidence. We talk about it all the time. Heather, what are you having? I’ll have a Corona please."
From that moment on I felt invincible. No one could stop me now. I wanted to show the whole world my fake ID.
"Oh, my ID? Here it is. I’m 26. My name is Heather Hanson. I live at 1721 Pinewood St., Raleigh North Carolina, 27615. My birth date is April 13, 1974. I’m an Aries and an organ donor. My favorite color is blue."
"Ummm, that’s great. I just asked if you knew how to get to the Luxor from here."
"Of course I do, I’m 26."
"Okay, how do you get there?"
"Oh, I don’t know. But that doesn’t mean I’m not 26. My name is Heather Hanson. I live at…"
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Thanks for nothing."
And I was right. I was invincible. All night long I used that ID, and no one questioned it. No one even looked at me funny. By the end of the night even I thought the ID was real. I thought I WAS Heather Hanson.
I brought the ID home with me. The very next weekend my friends and I took the license to Arrow Liquor Store, down the street from my house.
"Can I see your ID?"
"Of course, fine sir." I presented the ID with a theatrical flourish. My teenage friends watched in awe.
The cashier glanced at the ID, then at me, then back at the ID.
"I know. The picture doesn’t do me justice." I gave him a winning smile and batted my eyelashes.
"This isn’t you."
"You are mistaken, fine sir. It is I. Heather Hanson. I live at 1721 Pinewood St., Raleigh North Carolina, 27615. My birth date is April 13, 1974. I’m an Aries and an organ donor. My favorite color is blue."
"This isn’t you. I’m confiscating this. Now get out of here, or I’m calling the police."
I walked out of Arrow Liquor Store more dejected than anyone who has ever walked out of Arrow Liquor Store before, which is saying a lot. My whole self-identity was crushed. If I wasn’t Heather Hanson of 1721 Pinewood St, who was I?
A few years later, in college, I got a new fake ID. My identity was restored. My name was Chelsea Collins and I lived at 501 N. 5th St., Brooklyn, New York, 11211. My birthdate was July 27th. I was a Leo and my favorite book was Pride and Prejudice.
Just call me Chelsea.
(Here’s a picture of the real Heather (Hanson is not her real last name) with some guy named Jamie, from one of the seasons of MTV’s Road Rules. When we passed him Heather went “That guy looks familiar.” It wasn’t until a full block later that she screamed “JAMIE!” out of nowhere and took off running after him. I followed her and managed to take this picture. As you can see, we look pretty much identical.)