… knowing that in Tennessee all beer sales in convenience and grocery stores must be accompanied by the showing of beer_01.jpg identification. All beer sales in stores. If Methuselah shows up, tottering on two canes and trailing a 10-foot white beard, by cracky, he’ll be carded! Thank goodness, now we’ll be rid of that plague of 16-year-olds trying to buy beer disguised as grandfathers.

The law, effective last Sunday, does not apply to sales of beer in bars or restaurants or to sales of wine and spirits. The law expires in a year, unless the Tennessee legislature decides to renew it. Tennessee is the only state that requires universal carding for store beer sales, but why shouldn’t the Volunteer State be a trend-setter?

Now I can understand why owners, managers and clerks in convenience stores, supermarkets and grocery stores want to cover their backs on underage beer sales. Repeated offenses can result in suspended or revoked licenses to sell beer. And beer sales are big business. According to the National Association of Convenience Stores, in 2005 beer sales in convenience stores alone amounted to $17.7.billion. I mean you could underwrite a couple of weeks of the war in Iraq for that kind of swag. And convenience store sales lag behind beer sales in liquor stores and grocery stores. Adults asked where they “most often” purchase beer — again this is from the NACS — said supermarket/grocery stores 40.2 percent, liquor stores 24.9 percent and convenience stores 23.1 percent.

(To offer some perspective: In Tennessee, grocery stores sell only beer, not wine or spirits. Liquor stores sell wine and spirits and only within the past decade were allowed to sell “big beer” with an alcohol content over about 5 percent, that is, Belgian ales, hand-crafted, small-batch beers and so on, whose alcohol content often rises to double digits.)

Really, though, I think those wimps in the Tennessee legislature didn’t go far enough to protect the population. Why not go the limit and require identification for sales of all alcoholic beverages in all locations? Why shouldn’t the waiter demand ID from the connoisseur ordering a bottle of Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon in a fine dining restaurant?

Nothing, you see, will prevent teenagers from acquiring beer the way they have always done: Getting an older person to buy it for them. It’s the time-honored tradition. Carding a white-haired octogenarian in a leisure suit and Tyrolean hat won’t prevent him from making a buck buying beer for thirsty adolescents out for a thrill. In fact, I think I’ll go loiter outside my neighborhood 7/11 and see if I can pick up some lunch money.

Image from csus.edu.