You should know about Sarge.
Once you know about him, you should Spot him.
Sarge is my father. His real name is Greg, but when I was in high school I told him as soon as he retired from being a police officer (Illinois State Police, District Chicago), that I and all my friends would stop calling him “dad” or “Mr. Coate” and switch to “Sarge”. I told him I would create this mythic persona for him – Chuck Norris, but cooler. He laughed it off, but then I did it.
My parents taught my sister and I the value of a blue collar work ethic growing up, and did so by example. Both had multiple jobs (at one point my saint of a mother juggled three different ones at a time and still found a way to fed us and remember every person on the planet’s birthday. How I do not know). Sarge’s side job was working security at the United Center and Sox Park (screw you, it’s not U.S. Cellular. And if you call it The Cell you’re dead to me). He’d work White Sox games, Blackhawks games, Bulls games and concerts.
This worked out well for a young Andrew J. Coate as I got to see lots of games live growing up. A couple summers I felt I was at the ballpark enough to believe the Sox staff were my adopted family. This worked out well for Sarge and my ma because they got a breather from my craziness and literally an entire security staff to keep me out of trouble – for the most part.
Anyway, Spot Sarge became a game later in life where my friends would try to spot him at events and take creepy paparazzi pics of him and send them to me via text or email. That game has now taken a new more public form, as he’s gotten cooler gigs and become easier to Spot. At first he was hesitant about it but now he’s embraced it, and in fact thinks it’s pretty neat. I do, as well. I’m immensely proud of my father and it’s neat to see him on TV (or pictures of him on TV since I’m no longer in Chicago to watch the games myself). I also like that the mythic persona thing has taken off and it’s become a fun activity for lots of people. My ma and Sarge’s ma have even gotten in on the action.
Tonight’s a special night for Sarge. I Spoke to him a few hours before the puck dropped in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals between the Boston Bruins and our Chicago Blackhawks. He admitted that hidden beneath the stern, rugged look he’ll sport behind the Boston bench tonight is the 13 year-old Greg that grew up knocking a hockey puck against the garage door wanting to be Tony O and Stan and Bobby – Chicago Blackhawks legends.
Often times you hear of parents forced to live their childhood dreams vicariously through their children. Tonight, I’m proud to know my father gets a chance to be a part of something he always dreamed, and that I’m the one living vicariously through him.
So, Spot Sarge and Go Blackhawks!