Meet the teens dressing up like old people to buy booze

Illustration for article titled Meet the teens dressing up like old people to buy booze
Photo: Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group (Getty Images)

Gone are the days when teenagers hoping to drink illegally either stole booze from their parents, asked an older sibling for help, or hung around outside of drug and convenience stores hoping to get some soft-hearted adult to buy them booze. Today’s young people are far more creative and self-reliant: they’ve discovered that mandatory face masks, thick layers of makeup, and no small measure of self-confidence allow them to dress up like old people in order to buy alcohol.


The story, first reported by the New York Post, seems like exactly the sort of pandemic tale that would end up being an unsubstantiated urban myth. Incredibly, thanks to the incessant, compulsive need to document every single moment of their lives, this one looks like it’s actually true (!) and more than a few teens have posted about their efforts on TikTok, both for public acclaim and (one can only assume/hope) future grounding by their parents.

The amount of effort being put into the con varies, with at least one lazy teen simply slapping on a medical mask and using a fake ID. The more committed, however, are putting in some truly impressive effort, ranging from having a friend dress like a grandma and escorting them around a store, to going full Mission: Impossible and donning a full-fledged rubber mask. One can only imagine what these kids might be capable of if they directed this energy into something more productive. Future Hollywood star? Professional makeup artist? Nascent C.I.A. agent? Other than drinking, what exactly does a teenager do at the blossoming of the apocalypse?

Jacob Dean is a food and travel writer and psychologist based in New York. He likes beer, less traveled airports, and is allergic to grasshoppers (the insect, not the mixed drink.)


Decades ago my friend and I really wanted to see The Exorcist at the cinema. It was an X in this country, meaning over 18s only, and we were both a couple of months away from turning fourteen. It was a classy first-run cinema so I borrowed a pair of my father’s business suit trousers, the crotch was around my knees, with massive internal turn-ups, and one of his sports jackets. My friend borrowed one of his much older and much bigger brother’s Mod-style parkas, which came down to about five inches above the ground. We looked fucking ludicrous. Even Vincent Adultman would have been more convincing, particularly when we tried to speak in a deep voice at the box-office.

The cinema didn’t care, took our money and I was traumatised for weeks....