The guy who played the skipper

The glossy pictures in Hit Parader magazine show the drummer using black-and-white-striped drumsticks, and Kevin DuBrow’s mic stand is striped black-and-white too.  The white pvc pipe of the first nunchucks look a little plain next to the new ones made of whittled wood. There’s black electrical tape in the garage. I wrap it around the pipe and head for Jaime’s sliding glass door.

“Check it out, man. Quiet Riot.”


Jamie’s lying flat on the bed, neck bent at an unnatural-looking 90 degrees, nose about two inches from his book. He grins. “Badass.”

I whip and twirl, careful not to hit the ceiling fan. Bang your head, metal health will drive you mad.

Back in my temporary room with no special features, I tear out most of the good photos. Carefully, you can’t even tell they’re torn. Clean, perfect edges. Full page photos are best, preferably not stage shots, although these will do, but my favorites capture real moments. Ozzy in the pool, Randy Rhoads climbing up his shoulders, flashing devil horns. These will go up on my bedroom wall at mom’s, my real room.

The last few pages are ads: musicians looking for gigs, instruments for sale. There’s an ad for I.D. cards. Any town, any state. Just fill out our form, send us a photo, enjoy your new I.D. in 4-6 weeks.

I blink. Too good to be true.

I use mom’s address, a date of birth that makes me 23. A little cushion might raise fewer eyebrows.

Back at home, I start checking the mail daily around the four-week mark. The one day I don’t is the day she walks back from the mailbox, flips through the mail, furrows her brows, says Walt? What’s this, Identification Services? I snatch it from her, feign confusion. Add a chin scratch for show. Snap my fingers and say, “This is that information I requested!” Like I’d forgotten about it, it was no big deal.

Somehow, this works. Eyebrows raised, but no further questions.

In my bedroom, door closed, I tear into the envelope, and there it is, my new identity: Nathan Hale, Jr., age 23, of Tulsa, Oklahoma. It would have to be another state, I thought, because any cashier would know a real Texas ID, and Oklahoma is close, believable. My yearbook headshot is slightly too glamorous, but it’ll do.


The real Alan Hale, Jr

One problem: Stamped in red-letters, all caps, from the lower left corner to the upper right, the words NOT A GOVERNMENT DOCUMENT.

Seven years shy of 23, and a fake I.D. says it’s fake. Chance of successfully procuring alcohol: zero.

“Let’s see it!” says Jamie. The lamp on his desk illuminates him like a Rembrandt, the rest of the room dark. Also on his desk: scissors, razor blades, clear contact paper. He studies my not-a-government-document. “I see what you mean.” He slides his project towards me across the desk. “Check this out.”

It’s an expired Texas driver’s license. They used to let you keep the old one when you got it replaced, probably stopped in part due to people like Jamie. He’s cut the photo out with the razor blade, laid down his own photo in its place, layered the whole thing with clear contact paper.

“Badass,” I nod.

I could have done better. The photo is just slightly off vertical, a little gap of white in one corner where it doesn’t quite match up. It will pass only a cursory inspection. I’m more patient, a perfectionist. Mine would have been perfect.

I compare his with my not a government document. Absently rub my thumb over the red lettering.

To my amazement, it fades.



On Jamie’s desk, a wooden golf tee. I grab it, scratch it over the red letters.

“Dude!” I cry.

To my surprise, to my delight, the letters fall away like dust. Like they were never there. Bless and thank the good people at Identification Services.

“Fuckin’ A!” says Jamie, high-fiving me.

I’m in business.


This is part of a series of “flash-memoir” posts that stand alone, more or less, but also link together to tell a longer story. The 1st is here.


featured image:  the

16 thoughts on “The guy who played the skipper

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