1. ID Leniency
At eighteen, you know the places where all it takes to get served is essentially the equivalent of a piece of paper with “My kickass kid is totes twenty-one and can legally drink. Sincerely, My Mom” scrawled on it. Given, these locales will have their share of flaws—the ideal bars don’t typically have the vomit-encrusted bathroom grout, the coat rooms that double as boiler rooms, or the back booths reeking of post love that these dives do. But when you’re eighteen and can circumvent the drinking age through a combination of a forged government document, a low-cut shirt, and a well-timed inner-thigh stroke to the door guy, well, none of those other things matter.
By twenty-five you’re sick of being in crowded bars overrun by swarms of eighteen-year-olds with fakes clamoring to get plastered. Namely, it’s not fun to be twenty-five in a bar where if you’re twenty-one you’re already too old to be there. So you’ve developed a love for unwavering, law-abiding servers and bouncers. Yeah, go on, waitress, make that table of young-looking people, all with out-of-state IDs, show you another form and then make them tell you their deepest secrets and fears. You’ll just sit back and enjoy this Border Patrol-esque inquisition and invasion of personal privacy because you know they’ll catch some, and that ultimately means you won’t have to wait as long for a drink.
Cover is just the cost of doing business, and when you’re eighteen with limited booze options you’re more than willing to fork it over. Think back to high school when you’d pay a homeless guttersnipe to go to the liquor store for you. You’d give him your forty dollars and an order for a half-gallon and a case only to see him return with nineteen loose beers and plastic bag filled with gin. Even with his heroin-addled mind, you and he both could recognize that the money he pocketed was just the cost of doing business. When you’re under twenty-one you’ll gladly pay the surcharge, because the alternative is sobriety.
When you’re twenty-five though, ten dollars for cover can be a deal breaker. You have options now, and ten dollars in this country still buys a good amount of jug wine to drink at home with your pants off. Do you really want to pay ten dollars for roughly the same bar experience you’ve had countless times before? Probably not. Frankly, paying money for the ability to buy overpriced drinks that you still are expected to leave a tip on in a setting where you can’t be pants-less watching Netflix and ready to succumb to a spontaneous urge to cry or masturbate in just seems like a waste of money to you now.
At eighteen, food at a bar isn’t essential. When you’re that age it doesn’t matter that any order takes at least an hour to get to your table or that literally everything on the menu, including fresh fruit, violently erupts out of your dumper like clockwork exactly seventy minutes after you ingest it—you’re just happy to be here drinking. The fact that it’s Free Taco Bar Night is just a perk when you’re eighteen. Even when you inevitably develop a food-borne illness from slathering your hot, juicy taco with the contents from that two-gallon vat of room-temperature sour cream you’ll be aching to get back. After all, you came here for the ID leniency not the food.
There’s a good chance by the time you’re twenty-five you’ll have at least some disposable income, so it becomes necessary that the bar you frequent doesn’t have a menu where every item tastes like hot garbage. With good food, it now up to you every time you come in how you want to suppress your feelings, namely if it’s going to be a food binge, a drinking binge, or some from Column A and some from Column B.
You’re eighteen; the bars you’re getting into know your demographic and your proclivity for dark, loud areas in which to rub your erotic zones on strangers’ erotic zones. You’ve got the energy and the ravenous sexual appetite so, like moths to light or the morbidly obese to Old Country Buffet, at eighteen you’ll flock to a place a with a DJ playing the Top 40 to join in the drunken, dance-floor orgy of dripping sweat and curious, prodding fingers.
Once you’re twenty-five, you’ve done the blaring, sticky-with-shame dance bars enough and you’re over it. You still dig music, but you also like being able to banter without having to scream like it’s Thanksgiving and you’re talking to your decrepit, senile relatives. The perpetual penis or pussy poacher from your younger days has evolved into an individual who doesn’t try, or have to try, as hard for sex. Now you genuinely just go to a bar to catch up and joke with his or her friends and you’re completely comfortable with that reality.
In the end, embrace the change—you knew you weren’t going to be eighteen forever. You keep getting older, they stay the same age, and, eventually, if you don’t change, you’ll wake up and realize you’re the creepy thirty-one-year-old alcoholic who’s always trying to convince those eighteen-year-olds with fakes to let him wiggle his junk around inside them.