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My Rash Attempt to Stick it to the Man

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It was rebellious, crazy- irrational even! Above all, it was completely unlike me. Yet there I was, climbing into the backseat of a car, with just under twenty minutes to prepare myself to commit a criminal assault. Nervously, my hands twitched as I fiddled with my bag, making sure I had the proper tools and utensils to attempt the offense. The adrenaline pumped through my veins as the car accelerated into a future stark with uncertainty.

Paranoia clouded my mind as I attempted to distract myself, casting my gaze on the sights passing by quickly outside the window. The glass was fogged with condensation from the air of a cool February night- or maybe it was just my breath! I had begun breathing heavily as the nervousness kicked in. Calm down! I told myself as we passed various shops and residences. Everything will go exactly as planned!

It was only natural to be nervous. This was something I hadn’t attempted in years- except now, it was much more pressing. When I was younger, people were less suspicious. I could slip by without even a second glance. I had that baby face, the look of immaculate innocence. However, now, I was older, more mature. My innocence had faded considerably. When I looked in the mirror, there was no more “smiley little girl.” I was a big, bad teenager now, and the world could see it. I knew the hardcore look in my eyes would give me away. I knew it! I said to myself. They’ll take one look at me and know I’m as bad as they come!

The plan was devised; “foolproof” we called it. In spite of our confidence in choosing a title, I was still skeptical. I was certainly not the best at lying under pressure, and especially not lying under pressure to authority. How was this ever going to work? My breathing quickened, but I counteracted the stress by reciting mantras to myself in my mind: This will work. Calm yourself. You are bad enough to pull this off!

“Just relax,” my friend called from the front seat. “You will be fine. Stop worrying! You always worry too much.”

Easy for you to say, I thought, feigning a look of confidence. You aren’t the one who will face legal penalization if this plan doesn’t work! I took a few deep breaths and wiped the small beads of sweat from my brow, silently reminding myself to stay calm despite the consequences that hinged on our plan’s success.

The car continued rolling through neighborhood after neighborhood, and the sights grew less and less recognizable. I hated having to go on such a long ride to do this. I wished there was somewhere closer to home that it could be done; less time in the car would mean less time thinking and working myself up about my looming illegal actions. I shook the thought from my mind. There was nothing I could do about it now. We were too far into this to quit now; I just had to go and get it over with, and then face whatever consequences resulted.
As we neared the venue at which my morals would be compromised, I opened my bag. There sat my wallet, containing the items necessary to pull off this act of teenage rebellion. Nothing wrong with a little rebelliousness, I attempted to convince myself. Stick it to the man! I opened my wallet and counted the crisp bills, making sure that a small mistake or miscalculation would not be the folly that got me locked up. After careful examination, it seemed that everything was in place. I closed up my bag and decided to rehearse just what I would say in the moment of greatest pressure. I blocked out the drone of conversation coming from the front seat and retreated back inside my own mind.
And there it was. I could see it- the neon lights informing me that our destination was just seconds away. My heart began pounding again, and my breaths became erratic.
“You ready?” my friend said, looking back at me through the rearview mirror as she pulled into the parking lot.
“Ready as I’ll ever be,” I replied, and averted my gaze back to the neon lights welcoming us to our intended place of arrival.
We pulled into a parking spot, and it dawned on me that there was no time to be nervous. This was it; this was what it all came down to. We all pushed open our doors and stepped out onto the blacktop, wet with the drops of a late winter rain. I rested my face into a look of unreadable contentment, “Can’t read my, can’t read my, no you can’t read my poker face…” playing on loop in my mind. This is it, I reminded myself. Be cool.
We walked, the three of us shoulder to shoulder, out into the parking lot with an air of confidence. We knew we had to be convincing. Nonchalantly, we approached the ticket booth, lit up under the neon light reading 309 Cinema. The board behind the man in the booth listed all the movie titles. I spotted our selection, No Strings Attached beside a large “R.” I breathed deeply. You look seventeen, I told myself. You will be seventeen in three days, you can’t possibly look much younger!

The plan went into action. Anna went first, purchasing her ticket with ease. Then, to my dismay, it backfired.
“Can I see an ID?” the man in the ticket booth requested. Anna presented him with her license, glancing back at me with a look that read Think of something quick! He handed her the ticket, and Kelly followed. The order of events followed suit, and Kelly, too, presented the man with proper identification.
Then it was my turn. This was the twist in the plan that we had not prepared for! It was February 25, just three days before my birthday, and all of my IDs clearly stated that I would be sixteen for the next seventy-two hours. What to do, what to do?
I strolled up to the counter with the same confidence I saw on my friends, hoping to be convincing. He can’t give my friends tickets and not me one, I told myself, and hoped that I was correct in believing so.
“ID?” he requested and held out his hand. In a rash act of rebellion, I presented him with an ID that had been in my wallet for years: my seventh grade ID. There was no birthday on it, but it did have the year 2007. Simple math would tell him that if I was in seventh grade in 2007, and it was now 2011, I was a junior, and juniors are seventeen. That would work, right?!
“This is not sufficient identification,” he said, handing back the ID printed with an atrocious picture of me pre-braces with wild hair. “Sorry.”
Foiled! I thought. However, I was not going to give up that easy. No, I was a big, bad teenager, and teenagers told lies. I was going to have to lie my way through it.
“I promise you I’m seventeen! I’ll even call my mom to prove it to you!” I pleaded desperately. But he wasn’t having it.
“But you gave my friends tickets, what am I supposed to do?!” I wined, batting my eyelashes a few times for dramatic effect. However, it was no use.
“Sorry, I can’t do anything,” he said, and moved onto the next customer, leaving me standing in the cold, ticketless.
How could this happen?! I thought to myself. We had calculated everything and planned every move, and it still failed. All the stress, the suspense, the buildup- it was all for nothing. I longed for the days when I was twelve; all it took was a simple, “Yes, I’m thirteen,” and I was in to every PG-13 movie. Oh, how times have changed, I pitied. It seemed as though I was going to have to wait three days before I would be granted admission to any R-rated films.
We discussed other options, like asking a stranger to purchase me a ticket, or buying a ticket to another movie and sneaking into No Strings Attached. They all, however, seemed too suspicious. I did not think the man would be convinced that I would willingly see Gnomeo and Juliet alone while my seventeen-year-old friends basked in the greatness of R-rated cinematography. Unfortunately, we realized, this movie would have to wait.
Anna and Kelly returned their tickets for a refund. We climbed back into the car. My friends prepared to find an alternative way to spend the evening as I sat silently in the back, preparing to endure twenty minutes of jokes and harassment about how I was still only a little baby and too young to do anything. Deflated, I blocked out the sound of their jokes and conversation. At least I could bask in the fact that, despite having attempted to commit such a serious offense, I was not going to jail after all. Heck, he didn’t even yell at me! I got off easy, I told myself, smiling with satisfaction. I’m a merciless rebel; I’m as bad as they come.



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