Plan B

I may or may not have flown to Toronto, Canada on July 18.

At which point I may or may not have stayed with a friend named Erik, and borrowed his car to drive to the Mount Pleasant Cemetery, where I may or may not have searched for the tombstone of someone who had died between the ages of four and ten.

I may or may not have found the eight-inch-high headstone of Peter Reynolds, beloved son of Nancy and Jerry Reynolds, born July 2, 1977, died May 18, 1987. I may or may not have written the information down on a notepad.

I may or may not have then gone to Citimail Box Rental on Queens Street and taken out a mailbox in the name of Peter Reynolds.

I may or may not have gone to the website of the Office of the Registrar General and downloaded an application for a replacement birth certificate, visited a genealogy website to find the birth dates and cities of Nancy and Jerry Reynolds, and filled out the form.

I may or may not have called the Vital Statistics Agency to make sure they didn’t store birth and death certificate information on the same system, and then sent them my form along with a money order for thirty-five Canadian dollars.

The birth certificate may or may not have been waiting for me in the mailbox when I next returned to Toronto, at which point I may or may not have sent a copy along with an application form to the Social Insurance Registration office.  

A social insurance number and card may or may not have been waiting for me in the mailbox when I returned a month later, after which I may or may not have gone to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and taken a written test to obtain a learners’ license.

I may or may not have taken Erik’s old University of Toronto identification card, peeled off the lamination, changed the name to Peter Reynolds, replaced the photo with one from my old college ID, and relaminated it.

At this point, I may or may not have gotten passport photos taken, had one of the photos signed by both the photographer and Erik, and sent my original birth certificate and copies of my learners’ license and school ID, with Erik serving as a guarantor of my identity, to the Passport Canada office.

“I hope you know what you’re doing,” Erik may or may not have said. “My mother’s gonna kill me if I get sent to jail.”

After taking all these steps, I may or may not have received a Canadian passport with my picture on it over the name of a dead child.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think that, somewhere in Toronto, there is a mother who loved and lost her child. And, to her, I apologize. What I may or may not have done was wrong, not to mention risky. But there are situations, and there are places, where not being American can mean the difference between life and death.

We are at war, you may or may not have realized. It is a world war. And it’s not one that we are winning. We haven’t won a war in more than fifty years. That is, if you believe that anybodyactually wins wars.