My teen years were pretty tame. At 15, when all the kids were out getting high or sneaking booze from their parents' liquor cabinet, I never went along for the ride.
A decade later, I seem to be making up for lost time: going streaking, baring all on the CBC about my experiences shoplifting and now getting fake I.D. to partake in some teenage debauchery.
Last week, Citytv news hired me as their little Nancy Drew. They wanted me to pretend I was 15 and see how difficult it would be to get counterfeit I.D. from a Yonge Street outfit that's been busted once or twice by police.
Wearing a hidden microphone, I enter a dimly lit room where seven very underage boys and girls are eagerly waiting for their new laminated cards to freedom at $50 a pop.
"Enjoy the beer," says a man who appears to be in charge but claims to be only the cleaner when confronted about it by a TV crew later.
As he counts wads of American bills (he says the majority of his clients are kids from the States who don't want to wait till they're 21 to get into strip joints and dance clubs), Mr. Clean ushers me into a room where he shows me an array of fake cards - literally dozens of I.D.s from California to Quebec. Take your pick. Everything except Ontario, that is.
"Why no Ontario cards?" I ask. The answer is obvious. You'd get busted in no time. Bouncers are hip to what's real and what's not Ontario-wise.
I decide to be Jenny Chin from Quebec and am instructed to fill out a form where I acknowledge that this card will be used for "novelty purposes" only - just in case the cops come calling.
I fill in my height, weight and address. No one questions my age. The woman behind the counter looks at my form and advises a British Columbia card instead.
"A lot of Chinese people live in BC, and that way if you're carded you don't have to prove you speak French," she says. My photo is snapped.
It takes a total of 10 minutes. I try not to act like a complete narc while asking questions. I'm worried that my mic is showing through my lapel.
"So this will get me into a club?"
"We've had no complaints," she answers as she pastes my head onto the template on the computer screen.
"There was this one time when a mom came in with her daughter. I guess they wanted to go clubbing together," she offers.
I remind myself I'm supposed to be 15 and laugh uneasily, "Yeah, my mom would so never do that."
The secret, she says slyly, is the encoding on the back of the cards. She flicks on a counterfeit-detector machine and, sure enough, all's clear under the black light. All it really takes is the right printing machines.
I pay her $50, and she hands me the shiny card. My first thought? "This looks so fucking fake." But surprisingly, it works.
I buy smokes at two different convenience stores later that afternoon and also attempt to buy alcohol at a few pubs along Bloor. Only a woman at the Madison cards me. She merely glances at the I.D. before handing me a pint of Stella.