In 1980, I was 18 years old. The drinking laws had just changed in Iowa. Previously the legal age was 18. The law now stated that a person had to be 19 to be able to go to a bar. I was still 17 when the law changed. I was a few months too young to be "grandfathered" in. In my world, this was the most unfair and cruel thing that could happen to me.
I lived in a very small town. There was precious little else to do. I went to school, studied and worked. I worked in the food service at the local college in town. This meant that a lot of my friends and coworkers were college students. Naturally they were a couple of years older than I was. I was a high school kid, a townie. If they were toddling off to the bar after work, I would walk with them part of the way but turn off to go home not continuing to the bar with them.
It was December and the campus was closing down for Christmas. Many of my friends were going back to their own homes in other towns or other states for the holidays. On the last night before they left we thought it would be a great idea if I came with them to the bar. It was their last night before they left. I wouldn't see them for weeks. It would be churlish to turn toward my house and sobriety on this special evening.
I walked with them and boldly walked through the front door of Joe's (the bar). We squished into one of the booths in the small but crowded bar on the main street in my home town.
Naturally the bartender (Clay) knew me and I knew him. He was unsure how old I was so I was "carded" to prove that I was old enough to be in the bar and drinking alcohol. Of course I didn't have it. I was underage. I gave some excuse as to why I was not carrying I.D. and the bartender left our table. I thought I got away with it . . . until a few minutes later when the he came back to the table. He had called my house. Clay was informed by whoever answered the phone that I was only 18 years old. I was rumbled and I needed to leave.
With great eye rolling I left the bar and walked the few blocks back to my house. I was greeted by my sisters and some friends who were visiting us for Christmas. They had answered the phone and told the caller that I was 18. I think they were pleased with themselves for spoiling my illegal plans for the evening.
I held a grudge against poor Clay for decades. He didn't know. It probably never crossed his mind again. This episode in my young life is fodder for a wonderful story. The story of life in a small Iowa town. Everybody knows you. Everybody knows your business. You can't get away with anything! I never embellish this story. It is great as it is. "You think you had it rough! The bartender CALLED MY HOUSE!"