The clerk was not totally paying attention to his next customer at the liquor store, so he had already started to scan the six-pack of cheap beer before he noticed that the woman bouncing the infant on her hip was actually a teenage girl. In his defense, not many students with little kids came in to buy beer. At least, not ones who brought the baby with them.
“Ah. May I see some ID, please.” Well, this won’t take long, thought the clerk, but now I have to void the transaction. Crap.
The girl awkwardly pulled a phone from her jeans pocket — ignoring the phone sticking out of the pocket of the vest she was wearing, its camera lens clearly visible—and popped an ID card out of the phone case. She handed it to the clerk, who ostentatiously held it up to compare the photo to the girl’s face. The photo did not match the face, which the clerk expected (sometimes customers acted like people who sold booze were idiots); what took him aback was the photo showed what looked like a baby picture.
The girl pointed at the face of the infant. “That’s her.” The little girl smiled at the clerk momentarily, then went back to trying to reach the pretty display of flavored rum bottles that were several feet away. “Isn’t she pretty?”
“That’s… she’s… yes, she’s very cute, we have one about that age, but it’s…” Flummoxed, the clerk closely examined the ID card for the first time. “This is a voter ID card.”
“Yup! Those are allowed for beer purchases. Says so right there.” She pointed to the posted sign listing acceptable forms of identification for purchase at the store.
The clerk looked at the ID again, then back at the baby, then back at the ID. “This says she was born in August 1998.”
The teenager chuckled. “Yeah, they haven’t caught up yet on the forms. Actually, she was conceived in August 1998. Then she got frozen—I mean, she was just an embryo then, but that’s a person, by state law!—until last year, when our mom had her implanted. Then five months and fourteen days ago, POP! Out she came, and I now have an older baby sister! Cool, huh!” She chuckled, and the baby smiled in appreciation of the humor.
The clerk failed to get the joke. “But… she’s a baby!” Somebody put this girl up to this. There’s got to be a hidden camera somewhere. This is just like the boss, she’s always testing us on how we handle oddball situations.
The girl shrugged. “Can’t argue, but according to state law, she’s a baby who is almost thirty. The United States Supreme Court ruled yesterday that our state law establishing personhood at conception is totally legal and proper and constitutional and whatever. So she’s buying beer to celebrate.”
Ha! Gotcha! The clerk smiled in triumph. “Then I’m sorry” —his tone negated his words— “but she will be the one who has to make the actual purchase.”
“Oh yeah, no prob, Bob! Hold on a sec…” The girl held up the phone to the baby’s face; there was a *beep* as the facial recognition software unlocked the phone. The teenager tapped the phone twice and held it next to the point-of-sale unit; there were two cheery chimes as the POS and the phone completed the electronic transaction. “There we go! Charged onto her card! Did you know you can get approved for one of these things in, like, an hour? Pretty cool, huh?”
There was a long pause. The clerk seemed at a loss for what to do next.
The girl suggested, “So… her beer?” As she reached for it, she assured the clerk, “Don’t sweat the bag, we’re good,” and proceeded briskly out the store doors with the beer in one hand and the infant —who smiled back sweetly at the clerk—in the other arm.
“Hi Mom!” The girl had her earbuds in so that she could belt her sister into the car seat while she talked to her mother on her phone. “I just uploaded the video to the usual suspects, have you seen it yet?… Yup, go ahead, I need to get our girl belted in. And she was such a good girl! Who was a good girl? Yes, YOU were a good girl! Yes you were! Yes you were!”
The baby smiled and chuckled and gurgled.
“You got to the part where I’m in the store? Oh, I know, that poor clerk, the poor guy never knew what hit him… No, you’ll see, he never figured out my phone camera was shooting the entire time… Oh, yeah, she’s out of view of the camera, but our little legal-to-vote-and-buy-beer princess was telegenic as f— was really cute… Nope, just starting the car now, we’re on our way home… No, Mother, I will not be drinking any beer when I get home, I know how old I am, thank you very much! See you soon!”
Plus the stupid beer is warm. Maybe if I put it in the garage fridge they’ll forget about it?
Yes, it is now possible to have a new-born baby who is older than their mother. Depending on who is counting, of course.
I like to write stories that speculate about directions technology and society might take us:
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