Identity Theft

This is a guest post by Tim O’Halloran, @canucku2 on Twitter.

From the cradle to the grave, we are all assigned innumerable labels. We come into the world as sons and daughters. We go home from the hospital as siblings and grandchildren.  A few years pass and we are preschoolers, kindergartners and “the neighbor kid.” Adolescence rolls around and we become boyfriends, girlfriends, teammates, class clowns and eventually graduates. It’s usually sometime around this point in our lives that we begin our own search. We kick it into high gear in an attempt to discover ourselves. Some will become engineers, mechanics or civil servants. A smaller lot will become doctors and lawyers and such. This pattern of identity assignment continues throughout our lives. We’ve all been introduced by label, as in this is my “so and so,” Tim. For me, being introduced as “my cop friend” or my “detective  friend” was a mixed bag. Although, I’ve always been proud of my calling, the label often comes with downsides. All too often, that particular introduction was followed by a legal question or worse a “can you help me out with a ticket I got?” or worst of, an opinion on the controversy du jour.  It became cringeworthy. So much so, that I would tell friends, “don’t mention I’m a cop.” I’m just Tim.

My identity search began when I was about five. I knew at five that I wanted to be three things, a husband, a father and a cop. Inspired by my  father and grandfather, being a dad was at the top of my list. Being the youngest of five with a six year gap between me and my sister (I was probably an oops, but there is much denial about the facts surrounding my accidental conception), my mom and I had a ton of one on one time. I  remember telling my her that I couldn’t wait to be a dad. She was very quick to remind me that I needed a wife first. Catholics and their protocols.   My parents set a great example with their love affair. Even as young as five I could feel it. It made sense to me.

Fast forward to 1988 and I truly kicked it into high gear. My wife and I went on our first date on January 23rd. I turned 21 on September 9th and three days later was my first day in the police academy. We were married on November 5th and the following March had our first beautiful baby boy. Don’t bother with the math, I clearly messed up that Catholic protocol thingy.  It was everything I had always hoped it would be but so much more. We had four more kids over the next seven years and finally put the brakes on. Parenthood made me. It gave me more than the label I had always wanted, it revealed me. There has been nothing more powerful or meaningful in my life. It also led me to another passion and yet another label. Before finding soccer, my two oldest son’s gave little league a shot. After a season or two of tee ball for the first boy, his brother was excited to join the cap wearing ranks. We headed into sign ups all smiles. I handed in the paperwork and was promptly told number two was too young and would have to wait until next year. The smiles faded and my heart broke when I looked down at my normally carefree little boy as his frown began to quiver. I pulled him close to me and promised next year. It was excruciating. Then the sadistic volunteer offered a reprieve, telling me he could be rostered if I were to coach. I quickly said of course in a why the fuck didn’t you offer this just prior to smacking my little guy in the face with your “too young” sledgehammer tone. Apparently trickery and deception were the tools du jour for acquiring new coaches. Both my sons turned out to be grasspickers so we switched to soccer. Eighteen years later I’m still coaching.  Along the way I’ve acquired a few more tags. Detective, Union Rep, retiree are some personal favorites. Mortgagee, second mortgagee, that asshole neighbor that wouldn’t allow us to connect our fence to his, know-it-all douche among some of the not so favs. In time there will be some more. And ultimately the one we all share, decedent. The world around us constantly tries to steal our identities. The only defense we have is to realize our own definitions. I know I’ll never be a billionaire or have any type of fame, but I will always be a family lottery winner and that’s the identity I began pursuing at age five.

-Tim O’Halloran

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