In Japan, there's a nasty little phrase: "Christmas Cake". If you're a single woman, no one wants you after the 25th (birthday/of December/trip to the clap clinic). After that, no amount of icing can cover up the fact that you're not as tasty as you're supposed to be, that your currants are shrivelling and you're not even particularly rich.
Well, dear readers, I'm officially Christmas Cake. The last time I was ID'd in England was the week before my eighteenth birthday, after which I had to trudge back to boarding school alone, crying into my ramped-up cleavage. Since those heady days I've toned done the make-up, abandoned the wobbly high-heels and somehow etched a "surprised" line deep across my forehead. Now every night I practise looking more credulous in front of the mirror.
So I figured I was pretty safe leaving my passport at home for a Friday night trawl through the East Village. After all, I would be squired by the boy, with his distinguished sworls of gray hair and media glasses. Throw in the retro English accents and we were positively vintage.
The entrance to Otto's Shrunken Head was blocked by a dwarfish man, with long stringy gray hair. "Can we see some ID please?"
We pantomimed big tourist shrugs. "Don't have any I'm afraid."
"No driving licenses?"
"No passports" He was clearly losing patience.
"Well, they've got our visas in, and we didn't want to risk losing them..."
"Then can't help you I'm afraid."
"But we're... but we're OLD"
It didn't cut it. At the next bar I smiled warmly at the bouncer, and willfully misunderstood his "Can we see some ID please?" gesture. Chris got in too, on the wave of my misdirection. This was a very different kind of joint. Dolly Parton blared from the juke box, and a rowdy group of aspiring Palinites were lining up to shoot moose on a video game. Tacked to the roof was a rope, so that when drunk girls danced on the bar they had something to hold onto. That seemed like a thoughtful gesture; one that you wouldn't find in many Tokyo dives.