I can't say enough wonderful things about the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. Where else can you get a pen that looks like lipstick, a cheeky babydoll t-shirt with an invitation to Deny Everything and sunglasses with a spy camera attached? Aside from the ultra-decked-out gift shop, and barring a tour of the main museum due to time constraints, I took part in quite possibly the coolest tourist-y thing I've ever done: Operation Spy, a one hour simulated mission in which I became a U.S. Intelligence Operative in the fictitious country of Khandar. Became may not be the right word. Faked, maybe? Not for lack of realism, for the interactive experience was developed by current and former agents and lifted from portions of actual intelligence files, but let's just say I didn't miss my calling in life. Thus, I give you another Vortex 10:
Top Ten Reasons Channeling My Inner Bond Girl is Futile
1. Smart aleck cracks and flip flops do not a stealth operative make.
2. The only heat I packed on the mission was a serious underarm challenge to my Degree, Ultra Clear in the close confines of a subterranean elevator. Relax, people. Clean Powder scent prevailed.
3. The learning threshold for mastering camera surveillence would have been considerably smaller had I been tracking, say, Keith Urban, for a fangirl hotel ambush, instead of a guy who looked like my first manager at a KFC when I was fifteen.
4. Aboard the covert, getaway delivery van, my stomach revisited its 10,000 foot turbulent descent in a packed DC-10 over Washington D.C. Special forces do not carry white paper bags.
5. Simulated chopper blades really do a number on long hair.
6. My urge to don the hands-free/drive-through microphone of our "tour operations officer" surfaced, not out of a desire to intensify my experience, but to channel my inner rock star.
7. The Spy Museum's version of Frohike railroaded my concentration toward unrequited Mulder fantasies. At that point, the tech officers could have whistled Zippity-Do-Da out of their you-know-whats for all I focused on that task.
8. The red and green wavy lines on the voice descrambler proved a far prettier pattern than the required merge of the two to decipher the intercepted audio signal.
9. The only lie detector question I felt compelled to ask was, "Is that a fake accent?"
10. Calibrating a do-hickey to the precise number-which could have been psi or Oprah's weight for all I understood it to be-to disengage security cameras makes no difference if you alert the entirety of the compound to your presence by stomping on a loose manhole cover.
So, 007 I am not, at least not anywhere but in the pages of my stories. But for one hour, I saved the world. How many times in life do we get to claim that?
What and where is the coolest tourist-y thing you've ever done?