Column: Age is more than just a number

Column: Age is more than just a number

In December, Lindsay Lohan told “People” magazine she had been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for a year. “I haven’t had a drink in seven days,” she said. “I’m not even legal to, so why would I?”

My goodness! Lindsay, you’re right! I totally forgot – people who aren’t 21 aren’t supposed to drink alcohol! Who knew?

Judging by the stories in tabloid magazines across the nation, being under 21 doesn’t matter as long as you’re a hot celebrity with thousands of dollars to throw around. Unfortunately, if you’re a college student in Boston, it does.

A few weeks ago, the city of Boston passed an ordinance that ordered nine nightclubs to stop admitting minors. Underage drinking laws have been heavily enforced in Boston for years, but while the temporary suspension lasts, minors will almost be kept away from alcohol altogether.

Almost. For many under-21 college students, age isn’t an issue. The use of fake IDs in Boston is much more widespread than people assume. When New England college students gather in their hometowns to discuss college life, there are several general assumptions. Providence bars don’t even card. New York City will take most IDs, as long as they aren’t handwritten. But Boston is close to impossible.

True – Boston is tougher than most cities when it comes to fake IDs. However, many students manage to get around it. I didn’t realize this until recently, when about half of my friends starting turning 21. All of a sudden, everyone was going to bars on the weekends. The ones who weren’t 21 had all magically obtained IDs, and they were good ones. How did this happen?

I won’t be 21 until June, and I don’t have a fake ID. No one has ever offered me one, and I don’t have the chutzpah to ask. Plus, it’s pretty hard to find another redhead who looks half-Jewish, a quarter-Irish and a quarter-German. I actually did run into one once, but she was five inches shorter than me. “Oh, well,” I’ve always figured. “I can’t be missing out on that much.”

And I wasn’t, until now. To be fair, I’m not much of a “clubber,” but it was nice to know that if there were no good parties on the weekend, the option of “going out” still existed. I promised a friend I would go with her to “Paper” at Bill’s Bar – an 18-plus dance night that Bill’s hosts every Thursday. We put it off until after winter break, and now it appears we’ll be putting it off until June.

All too often, it feels like alcohol rules our lives. Freshman year, entire Fridays were spent trying to figure out who would buy booze for the weekend. Later on, friends who were once close become distant because they could frequent bars and you couldn’t. I can also honestly say my relationship with my boyfriend changed very shortly after he turned 21. Two months later, we broke up. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.

When did my age become the bane of my existence? Why couldn’t my parents have had a romantic Valentine’s Day and conceived me then so I could have a November birthday like everyone else?

In five (long) months, this will all be behind me. As my parents have said for years, “You have your whole life to be over 21. And I suppose when I’m 40, I’ll desperately wish I was still 20.

Maybe I’m just bitter. While 18- and 19-year-old sophomore girls are happily skipping off to last call at Our House, fake IDs in hand, I’m finding it increasingly more difficult to find fun things to do on the weekend.

I’m so close to 21, but it’s never felt further away.

– Stephanie Shore can be reached at [email protected]

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