Because of my youthful appearance, I'm often carded for alcohol. But occasionally a barkeep will simply ask if I'm 21. I've asked why, and they say undercover OLCC agents can't lie during a sting. Is this a myth? Is there really such a code? Are you really a doctor?

—Baby Face

Define "doctor." Then define "really." Then define "a." Confused yet? It just goes to show how life is too short to get hung up on "definitions" and "labels" and "outstanding warrants for prescription fraud."

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission prefers the term "minor sales check" to "sting," but they do indeed send fresh-faced 17-to-20-year-olds into bars and package stores to monitor sellers' compliance.

Selected from the ranks of kids who were always reminding the teacher she forgot to assign homework, these "minor decoys" are well-positioned to go on to exciting careers as spies, FBI informants or Dwight Schrute.

Your theory shares about 98 percent of its DNA with the urban legend that an undercover cop has to tell you he's a cop if you ask. That one is total bunk, so I was surprised to learn there's a germ of truth in the story you're peddling here.

OLCC policy does indeed state that minor decoys shall not present false ID, nor misrepresent their age. Thus, asking the suspected shill their age would prevent the server from directly serving one of these decoys.

That said, nothing about this plan keeps the decoy from going back to their handlers and informing them that the day bartender at TJ McDongfondler's is accepting pinky swears in lieu of state-issued identification.

The OLCC's list of red flags that invite further scrutiny includes "documented failure to properly check identification."

Calls to the agency were not immediately returned, but it's hardly a stretch to imagine this sort of thing would qualify.

QUESTIONS? Send them to